Tribute Page:(Bio-Photos and Videos)
Preston Haynes Love (April 26, 1921– February 12, 2004) from Omaha, Nebraska was a renowned Alto saxophonist, Bandleader, Conductor, Composer, Teacher and Mentor. Preston Love grew up in North Omaha and graduated from North High. He became renowned as a professional sideman and saxophone balladeer in the heyday of the Big Band era. He was a member of the bands of Nat Towles, Lloyd Hunter, Snub Mosley, Lucky Millinder and Fats Waller before getting his big break with the Count Basie Orchestra when he was 22. Love played and recorded with the Count Basie band from 1944–1947 and played on Basie’s only #1 hit record, ‘Open The Door Richard.’ At age 19, Love took to the road, playing saxophone with a “jig show” band led by a one-armed tuba player, and barnstorming around the segregated southwest, until he was approached to join the Omaha-based Lloyd Hunter Orchestra. Love wrote affectionately about Hunter in his autobiography A Thousand Honey Creeks Later, recalling rickety band buses and dodgy dance gigs. A fellow band member was the Greek-American drummer Johnny Otis, who became Love’s lifelong associate. Love then joined the Nat Towles orchestra, a more glamorous unit that built a strong local reputation. When Basie came to town Love and Otis caught every show, and Love was enlisted to cover for Warren when he was taken ill. Two years later, after a period with the Lucky Millinder orchestra, came the job as Warren’s permanent replacement, playing lead alto flanked by star saxophonists Lucky Thompson and Buddy Tate.
Love eventually became a bandleader himself, playing with, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, his lifelong friends Johnny Otis and Wynonie Harris with whom he had several hits.
In 1952, he launched the short-lived Spin Records, as a joint effort with songwriter Otis Renee(“When It’s Sleepy Time Down South”). The label released material by the Preston Love Orchestra, among others. Love was also signed and recorded sides for the Federal and King Record labels in the 50’s.
In the early 1960s Love worked with Ray Charles in California and Aretha Franklin, eventually becoming Motown’s first West Coast house Bandleader/Contractor with whom he played & toured with The Four Tops, The Temptations, Tammi Terrell, Gladys Knight, The Jackson 5, Edwin Starr and others. Love also recorded with Nicelle Nichols, Janis Joplin, Frank Zappa (Freak Out), Shuggie Otis, T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Ruth Brown and many others. Love also appears in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me with the Johnny Otis band. (Love toured the U.S. and Europe quite frequently into the 2000’s, additionally lecturing and writing about the history he was part of. Other legends he played with included Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, The 5th Dimension, the Dells and Sonny and Cher.
Preston’s sons Richie and Norman are both accomplished saxophonist who’ve performed with many music greats as well. His daughter Laura Love is also a widely recognized Bassist, vocalist, composer and Author with several releases.
In his later years Love moved back to Omaha, 1997 finished his best selling Autobiography “A Thousand Honey Creeks Later (My Life In Music From Basie To Motown)”, led bands, the last of which featured his daughter vocalist Portia Love, drummer Gary E. Foster, pianist Orville Johnson, and bassist Nate Mickles, and was an advertising agent for the Omaha Star, a local newspaper serving the city’s African American community. He wrote a column for Omaha’s World Herald newspaper for a couple of decades as well as hosting a popular radio program. In February 2004, Love passed after battling prostate cancer. His son Richie is the Curator of the Preston Love Archives.
Videos feature Preston on Lead Alto or Tenor Sax. (except P.Love’s Song & Mansion)
- Preston Love’s Omaha Bar-B-Q, released in 1969
- Omaha Blues’, released in 2000
- Preston Love, released in 2003
- Preston Love’s final album, the self-titled album, PRESTON LOVE, released in 2003 was produced by Preston’s drummer Gary E. Foster. It is unique in that the first half of the album (tracks 1 thru 10) features the legendary saxophonist with his last working band and various special guest artists such as Gary E. Foster, Orville Johnson, Mitch Towne, “Guitar” George Laughery, John Foley, Nate Mickels, Bill Eustice, Dave Polson, and the Michel Pastre Orchestra playing inspired interpretations of originals, blues, swing, jazz & ballads, and the second half (tracks 11 thru 19) features an overview of his career from 1945 to 1969, highlighted by rare live radio broadcast recordings with the Lucky Millinder & Count Basie Orchestras, and selections from the rare funk classic PRESTON LOVE’S OMAHA BAR BQ and the ultra-funky 1969 single CISSY POPCORN & FUNKY CHICKEN.
News Article: “His Voice Will Not Be Stilled” by Leo Adam Biga. click on link