Has anyone ever seen a band at Disney that didn’t have great musicians?

Vistalite Black

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There was a great drummer at Disneyland back in 1987 playing a black Yamaha Recording Custom in the pop band. This guy was just smokin'...he handled pop, latin, jazz, etc...like there was no tomorrow. I think that he later because a DW endorser, but for the life of me...I can't remember his name.
I think the guy you're referring to is Michael "Mickey" Mouse.

 

speady1

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I could go on and on here about the "behind the scenes" stuff at the house of the mouse, but I shouldn't do it publicly. My knowledge is from back in the mid-90's, so it could be (and probably is) much different now...

If you were employed by Disney, you had to read well in most situations, but not all. You had to be well-versed in multiple styles in ALL situations that you'd be playing in. If a guest made a request, you were expected to try to accommodate it. You might have gone from a rock band at 3 pm to reggae at 7 pm to bop at 9 pm. This was just expected if you worked FOR DISNEY. An example: Say you're the drummer in the Epcot rock band that plays every day at 3 pm over in world showcase. The Dixieland Jazz group in Magic Kingdom's drummer calls in sick and you were expected to go play in that group if at all possible at 7 pm. You've never heard them, met any of them, etc. You just went and put on that costume and were expected to pull it off perfectly as part of your hourly wage. This used to happen at least once a week back in the day. Obviously, I could never pull that stuff off as a non-sight reader. But there were plenty of musicians that did every single day and made pretty good money doing so.

That said, there were many groups/bands that were independent contractors that did "their thing" and that's it. They didn't work as often as the full Disney employees in the parks, but the money was pretty good. I knew several guys that just did one or two gigs per week in the parks to supplement their full-time bands' income in the Orlando area. One of those fellas was later in Creed. Another one formed Seven Mary Three. Lots of great players went through the Disney ranks in one way or another back then.

Back in the Pleasure Island days when everybody expected live music every night, if you had a really good band, you could play Thursday, Friday, Saturday (two shows per day) on the West End stage and make about $5k and get a couple of free rooms and park tickets. I'm guessing those days are long gone, but it was a blast back then to do those shows.
 

gwbasley

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I would take it a step further to include other venues like Busch Gardens. We saw a spectacular show at Cypress Gardens (before it became Lego Land), where the singers performed on ice! True entertainers who are multi talented.
 

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When I was a kid we went to Disneyland and Buddy Rich was playing. Buddy. Rich. I walked up to about ten feet from him.
I also saw him there. We frequented Disneyland in the 70's. The musicians where always top notch. They paid well.
 

Treviso1

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I could go on and on here about the "behind the scenes" stuff at the house of the mouse, but I shouldn't do it publicly. My knowledge is from back in the mid-90's, so it could be (and probably is) much different now...

If you were employed by Disney, you had to read well in most situations, but not all. You had to be well-versed in multiple styles in ALL situations that you'd be playing in. If a guest made a request, you were expected to try to accommodate it. You might have gone from a rock band at 3 pm to reggae at 7 pm to bop at 9 pm. This was just expected if you worked FOR DISNEY. An example: Say you're the drummer in the Epcot rock band that plays every day at 3 pm over in world showcase. The Dixieland Jazz group in Magic Kingdom's drummer calls in sick and you were expected to go play in that group if at all possible at 7 pm. You've never heard them, met any of them, etc. You just went and put on that costume and were expected to pull it off perfectly as part of your hourly wage. This used to happen at least once a week back in the day. Obviously, I could never pull that stuff off as a non-sight reader. But there were plenty of musicians that did every single day and made pretty good money doing so.

That said, there were many groups/bands that were independent contractors that did "their thing" and that's it. They didn't work as often as the full Disney employees in the parks, but the money was pretty good. I knew several guys that just did one or two gigs per week in the parks to supplement their full-time bands' income in the Orlando area. One of those fellas was later in Creed. Another one formed Seven Mary Three. Lots of great players went through the Disney ranks in one way or another back then.

Back in the Pleasure Island days when everybody expected live music every night, if you had a really good band, you could play Thursday, Friday, Saturday (two shows per day) on the West End stage and make about $5k and get a couple of free rooms and park tickets. I'm guessing those days are long gone, but it was a blast back then to do those shows.
Thank you for sharing your experiences playing for Disney. Excellent read!
 

mcjaco

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I could go on and on here about the "behind the scenes" stuff at the house of the mouse, but I shouldn't do it publicly. My knowledge is from back in the mid-90's, so it could be (and probably is) much different now...

If you were employed by Disney, you had to read well in most situations, but not all. You had to be well-versed in multiple styles in ALL situations that you'd be playing in. If a guest made a request, you were expected to try to accommodate it. You might have gone from a rock band at 3 pm to reggae at 7 pm to bop at 9 pm. This was just expected if you worked FOR DISNEY. An example: Say you're the drummer in the Epcot rock band that plays every day at 3 pm over in world showcase. The Dixieland Jazz group in Magic Kingdom's drummer calls in sick and you were expected to go play in that group if at all possible at 7 pm. You've never heard them, met any of them, etc. You just went and put on that costume and were expected to pull it off perfectly as part of your hourly wage. This used to happen at least once a week back in the day. Obviously, I could never pull that stuff off as a non-sight reader. But there were plenty of musicians that did every single day and made pretty good money doing so.

That said, there were many groups/bands that were independent contractors that did "their thing" and that's it. They didn't work as often as the full Disney employees in the parks, but the money was pretty good. I knew several guys that just did one or two gigs per week in the parks to supplement their full-time bands' income in the Orlando area. One of those fellas was later in Creed. Another one formed Seven Mary Three. Lots of great players went through the Disney ranks in one way or another back then.

Back in the Pleasure Island days when everybody expected live music every night, if you had a really good band, you could play Thursday, Friday, Saturday (two shows per day) on the West End stage and make about $5k and get a couple of free rooms and park tickets. I'm guessing those days are long gone, but it was a blast back then to do those shows.
The bands at Pleasure Island were always impressive. Not being a huge country fan at the time, I went in to whatever bar there that was for line dancing. The drummer pulled out massive prop sticks (like 4 feet long) and proceeded to play a train beat for two whole songs with them. It was ridiculous. And impressive.
 

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I went to Disneyland at Christmas time in 1986. Michael Jackson had been a regular performer there prior to his comeback in the earlier 80's. By 1986 he was too big for the job.
I didn't see any bands there, but there was at Knottsberry Farm.
 

On the one

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There was a great drummer at Disneyland back in 1987 playing a black Yamaha Recording Custom in the pop band. This guy was just smokin'...he handled pop, latin, jazz, etc...like there was no tomorrow. I think that he later because a DW endorser, but for the life of me...I can't remember his name. I swear, I think it was Joey Heredia...but, I'm not sure. All I know is this cat tore it up like few can do.
I saw a guy in 2005 that played a black Yamaha Recording Custom in Tomorrowland with 2 women that alternated vocals. Don't know if it's the same guy but a real nice guy and played very good
 

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I live about 1.5 hours away. I haven't been there since my kids were little about 25 years ago. I do know a number of former and current musicians at the "Mouse". They are all fine musicians, and some of their stories are hilarious.
In the early days of WDW (circa 1971), a lot of the musicians were retired ex-military band guys along with other pros.
I was told that they had to go through a Disney indoctrination class before working in the park and that there was a rule that you were required to smile while on stage.
A Clarinet player I knew told me of a incident where he was playing in a Dixieland band in one of the Gazebos in the early 70's. As they were playing, he couldn't help noticing the Mickey Mouse character was being abused by a skinny redneck teen standing behind him and shaking the ears on his costume head piece (this was before all the Characters had attendants with them). "Mickey" eventually reached his limit, wheeled around and put the long-haired kid in a head lock and began sucker-punching him with those big, white mouse hand gloves. The band was unable to finish the tune, they were laughing so hard. Yes, Mickey got fired.
This may be the funniest thing I have ever seen on DFO!!
 

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Forgot I had this picture on my iPhone! It's from December 3, at D-Land in Anaheim. It was dark, but that's Jimmy Ford, playing his customized 5x12 snare drum, complete with Christmas lights! The song featured Jimmy with brushes. I'm always impressed with his playing! My girlfriend and I are annual pass-holders and I always make it a point to say hi to Mr. Ford. His gig was just ending, so I was able to speak with Jimmy for a few minutes. He told me how he put this drum together quickly for these holiday Disney gigs!

-Mark
 

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idrum4fun

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More pictures from Disneyland, December 3! We wandered over to California Adventure, where we caught two acts. The first was this group of four drummers, performing a very animated routine...and all excellent drummers!

Disneyland uses Yamaha drums and Paiste cymbals exclusively. Here's a beautiful Yamaha kit in a blue sparkle lacquer finish. The group performing was called "Mostly Kosher". A great band with an excellent drummer! Just had to have a picture of myself with them. Yeah, that's me with my Disney beanie cap!

-Mark
 

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JazzDrumGuy

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I posted earlier this year about the ragtime/dixie band at Disney CA Adventure (so Cal) we saw in August - the drummer only had a snare drum and a 10" splash mounted off it - he sounded great playing backline New Orleans type beats and was killing it, as was the entire band! Similar to this:

 

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We are driving down to Orlando next weekend. Daughter's in-laws are renting a 10 bedroom house. We will be there 4 days. I have never been. Didn't realize there would be so much music. That will be really cool. At our age, I don't know which rides I can handle. Laugh! Don't want to be dizzy for hours. Ace

P.S. Remember Robin Harris doing a bit about taking BeBe's kids to Disneyland? They beat the sheeet out of Mickey Mouse.
 
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fibes3

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Saw Louis Bellson in the early 80's at the Anaheim Disneyland.
We were about 20 ft away.
He and his band sounded fantastic and he was a true gentleman.
 


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