PAS Hall of Fame

Bobby Christian

Bobby Christian

(b. 1911; d. Dec. 31, 1991)

Bobby Christian had an illustrious career that included a wide variety of musical styles and experiences. He began drum lessons when he was six and before age ten he was also playing timpani and marimba. As a teen he played with the Louis Panico band and the Paul Riker band.  

He spent some time in Hollywood playing in a studio band at Warner Bros, as well as for MGM, Universal and Republic Studios. An important break came when he played with Paul Whiteman's orchestra in the late 1930s. Other highlights of his career included playing percussion with the NBC Orchestra in Chicago and with the Chicago Symphony on occasion in the 1960s, as well as with the Toscannini Symphony of the Air and the Percy Faith Orchestra. 
Christian's association with the Dick Schory Percussion Pops Orchestra allowed him ample opportunity to play a large number of percussion instruments at one time - something he was known for. Percussionist Duanne Thamm described Bobby's one-man-band act as follows: "He played 'Sabre Dance' sitting down, two right mallets on the xylophone, left hand playing two timpani, bass drum with the right foot and bells in front of the xylophone. He brought the house down!" 
In addition to his energetic performances, Christian was a talented arranger, composer, conductor and clinician. His enthusiasm for these other facets of his musical life is remembered by many who came in contact with him. 
Christian is also remembered as a loving family man. He had four daughters, two sons, 25 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. John Nasshan, Jr., Christian's eldest grandchild, who delivered the eulogy at his funeral recalled, "All you ever have to do is mention the name Bobby Christian to anyone who has ever known him and their eyes light up. Each musician that knows him well has a favorite story to tell and they are all about an impossible chart that he sight-read perfectly, a lesson they took with him, how much they learned playing in his band or how big his family is.... I have been lucky to feel his love for both music and family." 
William F. Ludwig, Jr. participated in the close of the Funeral Mass and described it as follows: "Twenty drummers performed the retreat from the cathedral on muffled drums. In addition, a trio of drummers performed Harvey Firestone's 'Drummer's Farewell' at the gravesite."

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