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October 6, 2008

Al Gallodoro, music legend and Oneonta resident, dies at 95

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By Jake Palmateer

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ A local music legend whose career spanned more than eight decades died Saturday.

Al Gallodoro was 95.

The musician, who was a master of the clarinet and saxophone, was suffering from several ailments and had recently fallen ill, said his manager and keyboardist JoAnn Chmielowski on Sunday night.

“His greatest pride was having done every angle of the music business,” Chmielowski said.

Gallodoro was active in the local and regional music scene up until only a few weeks ago. His last performance was Sept. 20 at the Jazz Harvest Festival in Corning.

Gallodoro was scheduled to play at Justin’s in Albany on Oct. 18.

“His saying was, ‘Born with the horns. Die with the horns,’” Chmielowski said. “He did it right to the end.”

Gallodoro, who was driving around Oneonta until only a few months ago, was born in Chicago in 1913, the son of an immigrant Sicilian steel worker. At age 5, he picked up his father’s clarinet.

By the time he was 14, Gallodoro was on a path that took him to New Orleans and then to New York City, where he spent much of his career.

Along the way, he made a name for himself on the stage, in radio and in teaching music.

He joined the Paul Whiteman Band at the age of 23; played for the “Chesterfield Cigarette Hour” with Bing Crosby; performed the clarinet soundtrack for the movie “Rhapsody in Blue”; and was a member of the NBC Symphony under the leadership of Arturo Toscanini and Leopold Stowkowski; among many other accomplishments.

In 1981, after his wife died and after the music industry had greatly changed from the Big Band-era, Gallodoro moved to Franklin Mountain in Oneonta.

But he continued to play.

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