Lanin, Lester(1911– ) band leader/contractor; born in Philadelphia, Pa. His brothers Sam Lanin and Howard Lanin were also dance band leaders and band contractors. In 1937 Lester formed his own dance band in Philadelphia, playing strict-tempo danceable music—often known as society-style because of the fashionable people who preferred it. By the late 1940s Lester had emerged as the most prominent of the Lanins, and he was asked to play at so many occasions that he had begun to contract out a series of bands under his name. (He showed up at the most important events.) He played at every U.S. presidential inaugural ball beginning with President Eisenhower's as well as at British royal weddings and other fashionable events. By 1978 he employed some 1,650 musicians in 45 bands as the Lester Lanin Music Corporation; he remained active into the 1990s. His recordings on various labels were also hits.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.