The Life and Times of Jerry Adler
by Art M. Daane
Five years younger than his brother Lawrence Cecil (Larry Adler), Hilliard Gerald (Jerry Adler) was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1918. Just like Lawrence, Hiliard wasn’t very happy with his given names, and like Lawrence, he adopted a derivative from Gerald, and became Jerry. Jerry was self taught on the harmonica at the age of 13 . At 14, he won first prize in a harmonica contest sponsered by the Baltimore Sun.
He auditioned for the internationally renowned Borrah Minevitch, and was accepted to join the Harmonica Rascals. It was Johnny Puleo himself who prevented Jerry from joining the group. Johnny said, "Jerry, you're much too good to join Minevitch. Please don't wreck your career. Go solo!"
Jerry took Johnny's advice and at the age of 17, he was honoured with his first of two Royal Command Performances at the London Palladium. One year later, he received an invitation to perform at the White House for President Harry S, Truman invited him to appear at the White House. Jerry has been featured artist with the likes of Ed Sullivan, Jack benny, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Campbell, Dinah Shore, Steve Allen and Johnny Carson.
Jerry's many motion picture credits include theme’s from The Alamo, Shane, The James Dean Story, High Noon, Mary Poppins, You Can't Take it With You and My Fair lady.
Mrs. John F. Kennedy awarded him a special citation for his harmonica score of the TV special, "Young man from Boston," about the late John F.Kennedy following the president's assassination.
Jerry’s guest performances at the Schoenberg Hall at the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Wilshire-Ebell Theater, the Colorado School of Mines Center Auditorium, the El Camino College Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Pops Symphony Orchestra were some of the highlights of his career.
His one-man concerts as a guest entertainer aboard Cunard, Royal Viking, Royal Caribbean, Sitmar, Crystal, Regency and Holland-America cruise ships are well remembered performances. At the age of 77 he is still very much in demand in all venues of entertainment. However, his personal preference is currently his involvement with the Sarasota Jazz Club in Sarasota, Florida.
Jerry’s guest performance at the SPAH Convention (Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica) was an added crown to his harmonica artistry. His guest at the performance was no less than his brother, Larry!
Jerry Adler, younger brother of Larry, passed away on Sunday, 13 March, 2010 in a hospice in Sarasota,
Florida. His son and daughter attended to the cremation.
He will be sadly missed
Jerry’s repertoire included:
Malagueña - Perfidia - Stardust - Sugar blues - Stormy Weather - Begin the Beguine - My Funny Valentine - Slaughter on 10th Ave - Fiddler on the Roof - George Cohan Medley - Ravel’s Bolero - Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue - Listz's Hungarian Rhapsody, Al Jolson medley, Judy Garland medley, Tea for two, and many more.
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