The “sweetest music this side of Heaven.” That’s how the Chicago Tribune, back in 1928, characterized the music made by Guy Lombardo and his orchestra, the Royal Canadians. A native of London, Ontario, Lombardo was responsible for making “Auld Lang Syne” the definitive New Year’s Eve song and entertained countless listeners in a career that lasted more than 50 years.
The son of Italian immigrants, Lombardo was born June 19, 1902. Guy (violin) and his younger brothers Carmen (saxophone, vocals) and Lebert (trumpet) grew up in a musical family, establishing their first “orchestra” in grammar school. Together with Freddie Kreitzer (pianist), they played their first professional gig in Grand Bend, Ontario, in 1919. Engagements in London and Port Stanley, Ontario followed, and the group, now expanded to include a brass section, guitarist and drummer drove down to Ohio to pursue fame and fortune.