Del Courtney, who was born in Oakland California in 1910, became one of the biggest name bands in the San Francisco. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, he formed his first band at the Claremont Hotel in 1933. His popularity in the bay area was unequaled, earning various record deals and radio show contracts.
He first toured the hotels and ballrooms of Seattle in the mid 1930's, and though it was less than commercially successful, he returned to California with some popularity. He recorded regularly and packed local hotel ballrooms with his simple and sweet melodies. In 1938, his orchestra was heard on local radio remote broadcast from the Rainbow Room of the New Kenmore Hotel in Albany, New York.
By the late 1940's, Del was touring again, with much better luck. The band played the New Yorker and Ambassador Hotels in New York, Edgewater and Stevens in Chicago, the Roosevelt in New Orleans, the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu and their longest engagement, which was the famous Blackhawk Restaurant in Chicago, where the band played for thirty-two weeks. However, the band always returned to San Francisco and their loyal fans.
After the end of the band era, Del Courtney opened a television dealership in Oakland, CA, and also worked on KSFO radio as a disc jockey. Actually, during 1965, KSOL, which was formerly KSAN, was a "Top 40 station" featuring popular rock-and-roll music, and was in fact owned by Lee Malloy and Del Courtney, both, by that time, well known San Francisco entertainers. Courtney's desire to lead a band never left him, he soon led a new band while working on radio.
In the 1970's he led the band for the Oakland Raiders Football Team. Rollanda Lee may have been the vocalist with the band at that time. The Courtney band was led by various musicians when Del took time off to work on TV (The King Family Show), and during his vacations in Hawaii. In Feb. 20, 1986, Courtney's orchestra was playing for a Tea Dance at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, when when Dave Brubeck walked in and sat in with the band for a couple of numbers, "Take Five" and "Take the 'A' Train." Courtney and Brubeck were old pals -- fraternity brothers (Rho Lambda Phi) at the University of the Pacific. Brubeck's brother, Henry, had played drums in an early Courtney orchestra.
Del Courtney moved to Hawaii in 1978 where he died February 11, 2006 in Honolulu from complications of Pneumonia. He was 95.