At one point—a very, very long point, several decades to be sure—Doc Severinsen would have needed no introduction, as the longtime bandleader (and frequent co-host) of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was the very definition of a “household name.” These days, though, there might be a bit of a generation gap when it comes to the trumpet player once well known for his loud and flashy fashion sense who led the NBC Orchestra until Carson retired in 1992 and turned the show over to Jay Leno. These days Severinsen is still going strong, and at the ripe old of age of 89 still plays a concert per week and I reckon that there are still tens of millions of Americans who could pick Doc out of a police line-up if asked. For a guy who hasn’t been on TV regularly for over 25 years, he’s still pretty famous.
Less well-known is his 1970 LP Doc Severinsen’s Closet in which the man who was many times called “the greatest trumpet player in the world” by Johnny Carson stretched out on a particularly left-field cover version of… King Crimson’s mighty 1969 prog classic “In The Court of the Crimson King.” And he actually kills it!
We posted this song once a long time ago and one of our readers called it to the attention of King Crimson leader Robert Fripp, asking if he knew about it:
From Mr. Fripp via email: “this is a well-known classic!” Apparently, it was licensed legally and Mr. Fripp enjoys it.
Moving from an almost Morricone-like spaghetti western-sounding beginning through to the (inspired) James Bond-ish bit (and back again), I’d have to agree, it is pretty epic. And how hip to have covered Crimson a year later???
I confess to owning this album on vinyl. It’s absolutely worth seeking out. Never re-released on CD, the original LP can be found for less than $5.