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Paul Susumu Togawa


1932 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Paul Susumu Togawa Obituary
September 3, 1932 - April 20, 2018
Paul Susumu Togawa passed away in Menifee, California on April 20, 2018. He was born on September 3, 1932 in East Los Angeles to Akira & Kimi Togawa. He grew up across the street from Roosevelt High School, and graduated from there in 1950.
During World War II, his family was sent to the Poston Internment Camp from 1942-45. While in camp, he became interested in playing drums and became the first Japanese American drummer to hit the jazz scene. He joined Lionel Hampton's band in 1952 and toured with him until he was drafted into the US Army.
He returned to the LA area and continued playing in jazz clubs locally and internationally, recording several albums over the years. His first album featured saxophonist Gabe Balthazar. At the time, Paul and Gabe were two of just a few Asian American jazz musicians. He also played with Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Art Pepper, Anthony Ortega, Cal Tjader, Eddie Cano, Carl Perkins, The Mickey Rooney Act and many others. He appeared on ABC's Stars of Jazz Show multiple times by popular request and played for President Eisenhower's Inaugural Ball in 1953.
He was a gifted storyteller and was fluent in English, Japanese & Spanish. He also sang in 8 languages. He played bit parts in several TV shows and movies, including McHale's Navy, Hell to Eternity, Flower Drum Song and Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.
He is survived by his partner of 30 years, Betty Paps; children, Paula, Teri & Christopher; stepchildren, Kathy & Michael; grandchildren Mason, Marritt, Salina & Phillip; great-granddaughter Presley; sisters Akiko, May & June, brother Glenn; a nephew, several nieces and cousins.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from May 30 to June 2, 2018
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