Posted February 7, 2013

Last Surviving Member of Glenn Miller Orchestra Passes Away

Paul Tanner, the last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, passed away from pneumonia on Tuesday at age 95 in an assisted living facility in Carlsbad, CA. He is also known for his work with the Beach Boys on 'Good Vibrations.'

An amazing trombonist and musician, he taught jazz at UCLA and also recorded with many Hollywood orchestras over a very long career. His music classes at UCLA were quite popular. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1979 that he had taught 65,000 students in 15 years, and maintained a "continuous waiting list".

He was born in Skunk Hollow, Kentucky, in 1917. He studied piano before taking up trombone at the age of 13.

On top of touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra 1938-1942, he played in symphony orchestras under conductors like Andre Previn and Leopold Stokowski.

But he remained best known for his work with the Beach Boys. Tanner designed an instrument to use in 'Good Vibrations' called the electro-theremin to create the whistling sounds heard in the song. He recorded a solo album, 'Music for Heavenly Bodies,' with his electro-theremin, and also provided sound effects to several TV series, including 'Lost In Space' and 'My Favorite Martian.' But he viewed the instrument as a "toy" and sold it to a hospital to use in hearing tests in the late 1960s.