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Ronnie Pierce

1928 - 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Ronnie Pierce Obituary
Ronnie Pierce

1928 ~ 2018

Ronnie Pierce, musician, passed away October 28 at age 90. Son of Eddie Calvin Peirce and Florence May Peirce (nee Booth), in Lake Forest Park, Ronnie took to music early and studied with saxophone master Johnnie Jessen, who taught him "open throat" technique to produce a rich tone equaled by few other Seattle reed players. At age 15 Pierce joined the Musicians' Association of Seattle, Local 76 of the American Federation of Musicians, and began his professional career, playing reeds in the orchestras of Stanton Patty, Byron Scobey, Vern Mallory, Bumps Blackwell, Frank Roth, and many others. He also worked in the pit band at the Palomar Theater, one of the nation's last vaudeville houses, backing Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstein, the Mills Brothers, and an array of comedians who gave Ronnie a lasting love for vaudeville humor. In the 1950s and sixties Pierce remained a first-call player in dance orchestras and show bands, and 1962 he opened the Vault, a popular downtown night spot, which he operated until 1974. Thereafter he worked musical jobs of countless variety from Seattle to Key West and "everywhere in between," and was a popular teacher and mentor to generations of Seattle musicians. Ronnie Pierce loved to play and he loved to play for people; with his beautiful tone and phrasing, his infectious laugh, and his eternally youthful outlook, he brightened the lives of thousands -- "laughing and scratching all the way."

Ronnie Pierce is survived by sons Brent, Greg, Harry, Mark, and Rock; daughter Susan Hathaway; and four grandchildren. Funeral services Sunday, November 18, 3 pm, at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery, 11111 Aurora Ave. N., and memorial wake and concert-jam Monday, November 19, at the Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Avenue S., 6 pm-midnight.
Published in The Seattle Times on Nov. 18, 2018
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