Honoring Charlotte’s Music Man Loonis McGlohon
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - For decades, Loonis McGlohon earned the reputation of being known as Charlotte’s music man.
Born in Eastern, North Carolina, it was a visit to the big apple that left an indelible imprint.
“I was in the air force and I went to New York in 1944 and we went down to 52nd street and most of the names were unfamiliar to me,” he once said in an interview. “I never heard of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Al Haig, and we went into the Three Deuces to hear them play. It changed my life. We went back the next night.”
By the 1950′s as Charlotte was finding its way as a growing city, McGlohon became an innovator of live music shows on WBT radio and on WBTV, as he continued a string of professional music pursuits.
His son, former Gaston County School superintendent Reeves McGlohon was basking in the glow of the family legacy at the uptown’s Middle C. Jazz club.
He said, “Nan and Loonis McGlohon some 75 years ago invested in this community. My dad was a consummate cheerleader for this city. Each and every place he would go he would talk about Charlotte.”
Credited with giving so much to the Queen City, the place he called home is giving something back to Loonis and his family.
With some of Loonis’s good old friends, the recent gathering at Middle C was a fundraiser for Charlotte’s Trail of History.
His reach was global, but Loonis McGlohon never lost his local touch, according to former WBTV President and General Manager Jim Babb.
“Rooted in his church out on Carmel Road. Rooted in his family. Rooted in his colleagues at Jefferson Pilot WBT. Rooted in the community at large. Just an extraordinary individual,” Babb said.
McGlohon is the next local luminary to be honored on Charlotte’s Trail Of History located along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.
Former CPCC President Dr. Tony Zeiss heads up the Trail Of History.
“We raise the money for these larger than life bronze statues. We contract with the sculptors,” Zeiss said.” We install them and we gift them to the county.”
The most recent gift was unveiled this past fall with the dedication of a statue honoring civil rights attorney Julius Chambers with Mc Glohon next on the list.
His reach would influence one of Charlotte’s most revered faces and voices.
Charles Kuralt of CBS News remembered him this way.
“I would wander over to the big station WBT which was just down the street on Tryon Street and watch Loonis play piano for a show for a very early tv show,” Kuralt said.
McGlohon Kuralt collaborated on a show and book celebrating Tar Heel traditions.
Its title was “North Carolina is my home.”
We lost Loonis back in 2002. Having performed in 20 countries, and working on some 50 albums, he once made it clear by sharing his favorite place to play.
“The McGlohon Theater in Spirit Square. It is really my favorite venue. It’s like performing in someone’s living room.”
He worked with a number of performers including Judy Garland, Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra.
So far, $200,000 has been raised, and the effort is looking for another $25,000.
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