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Musician Charlie Perkins dead at 88

Posted: Friday, Jul 26th, 2013

At the turn of the century nearly every Sunday morning at the Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters in Old Town, a group of musical merrymakers known as the Lost River Band gathered to play Dixieland jazz to an always bursting crowd of java-jiving early birds. It was a special time, a sort of Florence renaissance. Trumpet player Charlie Perkins was one of those fine musicians. Sadly, Charlie died July 18, 2013, at age 88 when Gabriel recruited him to join fellow Lost River Band members Don Hayden, Leonard Dixon, Leo Bernhardt and Ken Mace in his eternal angel band.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Charlie began playing trumpet professionally in his late teens. He went on the road with the big bands in the early 1950s, including playing a stint with the Harry James orchestra. Charlie also backed Margaret Whiting and Rowan & Martin on the Las Vegas strip.

Charlie was a graduate of the University of California at Sacramento. After receiving his degree, he became a music educator, teaching fourth through 12th grades. He frequently wrote compositions and performed them for his students. In Florence in addition to swinging with the Lost River Band, Charlie spent many years playing Sunday afternoon dances at the Florence Elks Lodge. In conjunction with Steve Simpkins, Charlie provided music arrangements for the Little Theater on the Bay in North Bend.

In recent years Charlie arranged and wrote a number of compositions for the Oregon Coast Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra’s spring 2013 concert presented “North Fork,” a new piece by Charlie.

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