Lester Raymond Brown was born on March 14, 1912 in a brick house at the corner of East Grand Avenue and 2nd Street in Reinerton (Tower City P.O.), PA. to Ray W. and Hattie Brown. In 1926, his father bought a bakery in Lykens and the family moved to that town.

While attending Duke University, Les became the leader of the Duke Blue Devils Dance Band.  The summer after his senior year, he took the band on an east coast tour that ended with the Blue Devils disbanding when several members returned to finish college in the fall.

Les would become an accomplished saxophonist, composer and band leader in the big band era moving to NYC and eventually to California.  He eventually formed his own band which became known as “Les Brown and his Band of Renown.”

The band’s big break came with the song “Sentimental Journey”, co-composed by Les and sung by a young girl named Doris Day.

When Bob Hope hired the Band of Renown as his band, they became a favorite with servicemen as they followed Bob on his USO trips from Korea to Vietnam.

The band survived when most big bands folded during the nineteen-sixties. They became the house band for the Steve Allen Show, the Dean Martin Show as well as playing for all Bob Hope’s television specials.

Les Brown Sr. left the stage for the last time on January 4, 2001. 


The baby of the Brown family, Clyde, was born on September 1, 1925, to Ray and Hattie Brown in Tower City, PA. He had three siblings: Les, Warren, and Sylvia. Their father was the force behind music for the Brown family.Clyde’s nickname as a child was “Chicken” which he gladly exchanged for “Stumpy” when a neighbor stated that at 4’19”, he was about as tall as a tree stump. His father, a semi-professional musician, insisted that the children learn to play a musical instrument and gave Stumpy a hand-me-down cornet but soon switched him to baritone horn.

At fourteen he won a musical scholarship to the New York Military Academy and in summers attended Ernst Williams Music Camp in the Catskills on a scholarship. That was when Ray switched Stumpy to trombone.

While at the Military Academy he became the conductor of the school glee club and during his junior-senior years he was the leader of the dance band. Upon graduating in 1943 with no prospects of a job, his father told son Les to hire Stumpy, a position he would hold this position for the next sixty years. The first song he recorded with the band was Sentimental Journey with Doris Day on vocals.

From 1943 to 1947 he toured the United States with the Band of Renown. That is when baritone saxophonist Butch Stone and Stumpy perfected their two-man dance, the Dance of Renown which became a feature of band performances until the 1990s.

When Butch briefly left the band in 1947, Les told Stumpy to take over the role of male vocalist for the novelty songs with his first recording being I’m A-telling You Sam. Upon Butch’s return to the band, Stumpy began singing more popular titles such as New York, New York, Just a Gigolo, and Sing.

He met his future wife, Betty Jo, in 1943 when she was only 14 and married in 1957. The couple didn’t have children but because of his loveable nature he became the favorite uncle to all his nieces and nephews. They lovingly referred to him as Uncle Ticky-tick.

In 1946 he jokingly suggested an unnamed song be titled “Jumpy Stumpy”. Composer Bob Higgins took him seriously and named it that even though the piece is not a trombone feature.

As his musical career developed, he made two movie appearances with the Band of Renown and three movies as a solo actor.

Comedian Bob Hope restarted his USO Christmas tours in 1947 which would last for 40 years with the band accompanying Hope. Stumpy only missed the 1967 tour in protest of the Vietnam War. During those tours he played bass trombone and was in several skits with Bob.

“It was so rewarding,” Stumpy said. “I was 4-F during World War II and doing the (Korean and Vietnam) tours I felt I was really doing something in my duty. I think I saw more places of war than some of my friends who were in the service at the time.”

In 1980 he took over as the band’s manager until the band moved from LA to Branson, MO after Les’ death.

As the years passed, he and Betty Jo, whom he called “Pretty”, lived quietly in Palm Desert, CA when not on the road with the band. Then in 2011, after 54 years of a fairytale marriage, Pretty passed on. With his declining health due to Parkinson’s disease, Stumpy sold his home and moved in with his personal aide Joe Carizon.

Over the years, Joe became more than Stumpy’s caregiver. He became a good friend who treated the octogenarian as a father rather than a client. Joe and his family saw that Stumpy was always comfortable and happy. When Stumpy went out in public, Joe was there to attend to whatever Stumpy needed but always in the background, ready to assist only if needed.

In 2014 Stumpy was honored at the Les Brown Big Band Weekend in Tower City by having the festival dedicated to him. During the festival, it was revealed that Tower City had named the 1200 block of East Grand Avenue “Stumpy Brown Block”. This was in honor of the area where Stumpy was born since the exact location of the house is unknown.

That same weekend he and Les (posthumously) were inducted into the Schuylkill County Arts Hall of Fame by the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts (SCCA) in Pottsville, PA. The event took place at the Yuengling Mansion.

In 2005 The Stumpy Brown Low Brass Award was begun to recognize superior low brass players in the Williams Valley Elementary School jazz program in Tower City.

With his health continuing to decline and being mobile getting harder, many of the former Band of Renown members kept in contact with Stumpy via visits or phone calls which were greatly appreciated.

In April 2023 Stumpy’s health deteriorated at a greater pace leaving him unable to sit up or talk. On February 28, he peacefully passed away.

Stumpy was the last of the 1940-50s Band of Renown members. His life was a full one that he enjoyed to the fullest, never imagining as a kid from that he would ever have all the experiences, meet all the people, presidents, and heads of state or travel to hundreds of countries, and have world-wide friends.

His last “appearances” on TV would be on the Disney channel’s cartoon Phineas & Ferb courtesy of his grand-nephew co-creator Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Jeff introduced two characters, Clyde and Betty Jo Flynn, Phineas’ grandparents in honor of  Uncle Clyde and Aunt Betty Jo, aka Stumpy and Pretty.

As a musician, Stumpy was considered to be the best bass trombonist on the swing band circuit.  When asked about this Stumpy (who was 94 at the time) laughed and said “I didn’t know that. Who said that?”  A typical response from such a humble man.

Clyde (Stumpy) Brown, the thirteen-year younger brother of band leader Les Brown Sr. and former Band of Renown trombonist, singer, and manager for over sixty years passed away peacefully in his sleep at 7:30 am on February 28 at the age of 98. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Betty Jo, his parents, and siblings. Surviving him are over a dozen of his cherished nieces, nephews, and their children, all grieving the loss of their favorite uncle.

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