Ray Anthony has been one of Big Band music's most dedicated ambassadors. For sixty years he has helped keep alive the sounds of America's golden age of jazz and pop music. Born in 1922, Anthony began his musical career at age five, playing in his family's group, the Antonini Family Orchestra. During high school he worked with local bands in the Cleveland, Ohio, area and later made his professional debut with Al Donahue in 1940.
After only a short time with Donahue, Anthony was hired by Glenn Miller but left after six months, unable to get along with the famous orchestra leader. He then played briefly with Jimmy Dorsey before forming his own group, which featured unique instrumentation -- one trumpet, one French horn, five saxes, and three rhythm.
In 1942 he entering the Navy, where he led a service group in the Pacific. Upon being discharged in 1946 he formed a new orchestra, signing with Capitol Records. When Ralph Flanagan began the parade of Glenn Miller imitation bands Anthony fell in line and, like other imitators, made good money. During the 1950s he had a string of hits, including ''Peter Gunn,'' ''The Bunny Hop,'' ''Harbor Lights,'' and a jazzed-up version of the Dragnet theme song. He also appeared in several movies during that decade, such as This Could Be the Night and the Fred Astaire vehicle Daddy Long Legs.
During the 1960s, as the market for big bands dropped off, Anthony toured the lounge circuit with a sextet and a female vocal duo called the Bookends. His popularity continued and he was eventually able to add to his group, ending up with ten musicians and six female singers. During the 1980s Anthony began touring with a big band again. He also formed Big Bands 80s, an organization dedicated to providing big band music to schools, radio stations and other venues. Ray Anthony remains, to this day, dedicated to his calling.