'Sentimental Journey' Scribe Dead

L O S  A N G E L E S, Jan. 5, 2001 -- Les Brown, whose Band of Renown scored a No. 1 hit with “Sentimental Journey” during America’s big band era, has died of lung cancer. He was 88.

Brown died Thursday night at his home surrounded by his family, according to his daughter, Denise Marsh.

He was still touring and performing swing music about 60 dates a year as recently as five months ago. The Guiness Book of World Records recognized him as the leader of the longest lasting musical organization in pop music history.

Brown formed his Band of Renown in 1936. He co-wrote “Sentimental Journey,” which was sung by Doris Day. It became a theme song for men and women returning home from World War II.

“The happiest times in my life were the days when I was traveling with Les and his band,” Day said Friday. “I loved Les very much, I am going to miss his phone calls.”

On the Road With Bob Hope

Brown’s career included a close association with Bob Hope. In 1950, he joined Hope for the first of 18 Christmas tours to entertain American troops at military bases around the world. Day also participated.

“The world has lost a great musician,” Hope said in a prepared statement. “I have lost my music man, my sideman, my straight man and a special friend.”

As the first president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Brown helped make the Grammy Awards a televised event. He convinced Hope, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to participate in the first telecast.

In addition to his daughter, Brown is survived by his wife, Evelyn; and son, Les Brown Jr.

No services are scheduled.