Tony Pastor

Photo of Tony Pastor
  • Birth Name

    Antonio Pestritto
  • Born

    October 26, 1907
    Middletown, Connecticut
  • Died

    October 30, 1969 (age 62)
    Old Lyme, Connecticut

Tenor sax­o­phon­ist and vo­cal­ist Tony Pastor be­gan play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally while still a teenager, work­ing with the Wesleyan Serenaders in the mid-1920s, John Cavallaro in 1927, Irving Aaronson from 1928 to 1930, and Austin Wylie around 1930. In 1931, he opened a night­club in Hartford, Connecticut, and fronted an or­ches­tra of his own. The group strug­gled, and in 1934, it dis­banded. He toured with Smith Ballew in 1935 and played briefly with Joe Venuti and Vincent Lopez be­fore join­ing Artie Shaw in 1936, where he re­mained when Shaw re­grouped the fol­low­ing year.

Featured by Shaw as both a mu­si­cian and singer, Pastor be­came pop­u­lar for his ex­pres­sive singing and imp­ish per­son­al­ity. When Shaw de­cided to quit the band busi­ness in late 1939 and run off to Mexico, Pastor was asked to head the or­ches­tra, which was to be­come a co­op­er­a­tive af­fair. He turned down the of­fer and formed his own band in­stead. Largely made up of ex-Shaw mu­si­cians, his sec­ond group proved a suc­cess. Pastor was both hon­est and friendly and well loved by his mu­si­cians and fans. His sax play­ing and his vo­cals were the high­lights of each per­for­mance.

Pastor went all out when it came to buy­ing charts for his book. His or­ches­tra fea­tured some of the most mod­ern jazz arrange­ments of its time. It out­lived al­most every swing band, fi­nally break­ing up in the late 1950s. The group’s most promi­nent vo­cal­ists, aside from Pastor him­self, were sis­ters Rosemary and Betty Clooney. Other singers in­cluded Johnny McAfee, Dorsey Anderson, Kay Little, Eugenie Baird, Virginia Maxey, Stubby Pastor, Johnny Morris, and Dolores Martel.

After his band’s demise, Pastor or­ga­nized a small group that played the Las Vegas cir­cuit. The new band fea­tured his three sons. Pastor be­came very ill in the late 1960s and quit the mu­sic busi­ness, liv­ing in vir­tual seclu­sion for the rest of his life. Tony Pastor passed away in 1969.


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  • Full Moon
    Tony Pastor (Eugenie Baird), Bluebird (1941)
  • Maria Elena
    Tony Pastor (Dorsey Anderson), 1941 (Bluebird)
  • Good Morning, Mr. Zip-Zip-Zip!
    Tony Pastor (Tony Pastor, Eugenie Baird, Johnny McAfee), Bluebird (1942)
  • That Ain't the Way I Dreamed It
    Tony Pastor (Johnny McAfee), Bluebird (1942)
  • The Marine's Hymn
    Tony Pastor (Johnny McAfee), Bluebird (1942)

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