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Roy Leno Coran age 83 passed away with his family at his side and the music of his beloved Big Band playing as he took his final bow. He was born in 1929 in the heart of Westfort to Italian immigrant parents. His Italian heritage was a source of pride to him and he had many friends in the Italian community.
In his younger years he was an avid golfer at the Ft. William Country Club and enjoyed fishing for pickerel. He was a Montreal Canadians fan, loved cars, deep fried shrimp and a good plate of spaghetti. Roy was also past President of the Musicians Union, a member of the Da Vinci Centre and the Knights of Columbus.
Although Roy was a family man, his daughters will proudly admit that music was his true passion, one that he discovered at an early age. His illustrious career spanned 70 years having, been invited to play in Joe Turner’s band at age 13. (Yes he was that good!) When he formed his own band in the 1950s he became well known to music and dance lovers as he regularly played for dances at the Coliseum, Chippewa Park and various bars and nightclubs in the city.
To hear him play, one understood the true meaning of the phrase “live music is best.” Saying he was a talented musician would be an understatement. Due to countless hours of practice he flawlessly played tenor, alto and soprano sax as well as clarinet and flute. He was a master arranger having gone to Chicago at a young age to study the craft. He used his talent for arranging to amass a musical library that his Big Band will be able to play for years.
Roy formed the Jazz band that bears his name to this day in the 1950’s with 10 musicians. For over 36 years they were the opening act for Summer in the Parks, played a live radio show in the 50’s and backed such performers as Bob Hope, Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink.
Over the years he proudly gave young musicians the opportunity to hone their craft playing in that orchestra, and has instructed many students who to this day admit they were in awe of his musical ability.
In 1957 Roy and family moved to California but even the thrill of playing in the major studios could not keep him from returning home to a city and musical community that he loved. It was then that he built his dream, his music store, “Coran’s Music Centre,” which served the musical community for over 40 years.
Although he retired from the retail business, he could never retire from music. Over the years people would approach him and enthusiastically tell him “I used to dance to your music every weekend” and happily he got to hear that accolade one last time a few days before he died when another patient in the hospital discovered who he was. He had been unable to play his beloved saxophone for many years, but he proudly continued to conduct and arrange for the Big Band until illness ultimately prevented it. But his illness could not take away the music inside, as he was always tapping his foot, or had his index finger in the air as he continued to think about the songs he loved so much. Music was his life, and what a musical life it was.