I first heard, or learned about big band and swing music from my grandparents. But I didn't listen to it as I was growing up. In 1995, I got a job as a sportswriter for a weekly in Matthews, NC. $30 a week for an article. This was before the weekly or I had a computer, I would type my articles on my old Smith-Corona typewriter, and slip the articles under the door of the weekly on Sunday nights.
During this time, WBT radio ran a number of music shows on Sunday night. From midnight to 2am, they ran "The Swingin' Years," show dedicated to music from 1935 to 1955. I would listen to the show while driving to deliver my article, and occasionally listen to it in their parking lot while I finished the article. Hearing those beautiful songs on AM radio sounded like another world to me. My interest in big band, and other music of that era started again that year.
While WBT got rid of all of their Sunday night music programs a couple of years later, I never forgot about The Swingin' Years. Several years ago, I looked up the show, and discovered that host Chuck Cecil was still overseeing the show, which he had done since 1956. I continued to listen to the show until Cecil retired in 2016, at the age of 92. I listened to his last show while traveling through Ohio, knowing that an era was quietly saying goodbye.
Chuck Cecil passed away yesterday. In life, you're lucky if someone picks up the mantle of something you love, and carries it to the next generation. Chuck carried the music he loved to several generations, and in doing so, allowed some of us to pass that love on to others. Safe travels, Chuck, from a loyal listener near Charlotte, NC, and ask Benny Goodman to play "Let's Dance" for my grandparents. They, and I will be glad you did.
-DanielMay 1, 2019