5 November 1914, Los Angeles, California, USA, d. 27 December 2000, Los Angeles, California, USA. Starting out on banjo, McVea played in his fathers band before he reached his teenage years. In the late 20s, he began playing reed instruments, eventually concentrating on tenor saxophone. In the early 30s, after graduating from high school, he turned professional and worked with a number of bands, including that led by Charlie Echols. In 1936, he was with Eddie Barefield and, after a brief spell leading his own unit, joined Lionel Hampton in 1940. With Hampton he mostly played baritone saxophone. After a short stint with Snub Mosley, he became interested in new developments in jazz and worked with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. McVea was also featured at an early Jazz At The Philharmonic concert. Despite his interest in bop, McVea appreciated current popular tastes, and his R&B single, Open The Door, Richard, a massive hit in 1946, brought him international attention. This celebrity allowed him to maintain a small R&B band for the next several years, playing clubs, hotels, casinos and concerts in various parts of the USA. In the late 50s he also played in bands led by Benny Carter among others. In the mid-60s McVea led a trio at Disneyland, a gig he retained into the 80s.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.