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Raymond D. Bowman

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Raymond D. Bowman

Raymond D. Bowman
Bowman at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre (Los Angeles) in 1963
Born (1917-09-04)September 4, 1917
Green Valley, Virginia, United States
Died December 30, 2001(2001-12-30)
Occupation Music Critic, Concert Promoter, Pearl Harbor Survivor

Raymond DeArmond Bowman (September 4, 1917 - November 30, 2001) was an important American classical, jazz and ethnic (world) music critic, concert promoter and writer, based in Southern California. He was a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 and was an early member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

He was born in Green Valley, Bath County, Virginia but moved to Long Beach, California with his family at the age of 3, As a child he became a prodigy violinist, encouraged by his mother who had a love of classical music.

His mother was Vesta Virginia Bowman, one of the founders of the Long Beach Symphony Society. His family survived the 1933 earthquake and his mother made soup for the neighborhood in the front yard of their Loma Avenue home, which was damaged. He attended and graduated from Wilson High School in Long Beach. He became very active in sports and set several records in track and field. He remained a lifelong sports fan, especially track, baseball and football. While still in his teens, he dated actress Frances Gifford, before she became a star.

He went on to Columbia University in New York, where he obtained degrees in literature and journalism. Returning home, he became a member of The California Junior Symphony Orchestra and appeared in the motion picture "They Shall Have Music" in 1939. (Note: Although Bowman appeared in some scenes in the movie and was a member of the orchestra, he wasn't able to play when the orchestra actually recorded the music for the soundtrack, so isn't actually heard on the score).

He enlisted in the Army in late 1940 and was sent to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Ironically a few weeks later, he witnessed the attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 while stationed at the Army base. He was about to play a game of tennis when the attack began and quickly found himself firing a machine gun at the planes from a bunker wearing only his tennis outfit. During the war he worked in counter-intelligence in the South Pacific and rarely saw action for the rest of his enlistment because he was stationed on small outposts in the Pacific most of the time. His combined active and reserve enlistment lasted 17 years. He attained the rank of Master Sergeant.

In 1951, he married an English woman named Margaret Alderson, but they soon divorced. He was Adjutant of the Hollywood American Legion Post 43 during the mid-to-late 1950s and was active in veterans affairs. He was one of the original members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and signed the incorporation papers a year after it was formed in 1961.

In 1960, he married the former Estrellita (Lita) Santos, a local celebrity radio announcer at station KMPC, who had 2 children from a previous marriage, Leslieanne and Robert Christian. In 1962, she bore him a natural son, Ray Bowman, Jr.

He was a major concert presenter of classical and jazz music. He met countless musicians, conductors and composers over the years. He was also instrumental in bringing world ethnic music to the Los Angeles area for the first time during the 1950s and 60s. On January 25, 1959, he presented the famous Viennese mime artist Cilli Wang, at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. Later that year he presented Martin Denny and his "exotica" band at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. For nearly 20 years he presented the "Monday Night Concert Series" at the Ice House in Pasadena, when it was a venue for folk music, as well as comedy. One of the most famous performers he presented was comic Lily Tomlin. Her first record album was recorded on one of his Monday nights. He also presented the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Dennis Dreith's Nova Jazz Ensemble, Les McCann, Claire Fischer, Don Ellis, Rene Heredia and his Flamenco Show, the Aman Folk Ensemble, Devi Dja and many more.

In 1963, he opened an art gallery in Beverly Hills with his good friend Eric Mann. "The Bowman-Mann Gallery" was located on La Cienega Blvd. near Wilshire Blvd. Many famous artists give one-man shows there, including Mae Babitz, Edgar Payne (posthumously), Leonora Cetone Starr, and Innocenzo Daraio. That same year, Bowman teamed with dance legend Ruth St. Denis to bring the first full-length Balinese Shadow Puppet play to the United States. The performance was held at her studio just north of the Hollywood Bowl near Los Angeles and lasted more than 8 hours.

He was a classical music critic for the South Bay Daily Breeze during the 1970s and was a fixture at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during the symphony and opera seasons. He knew most of the performers and members of the press for nearly 40 years in the Los Angeles arts scene. He adored long conversations with "intellectuals" and would engage in them in unlimited discussions on fine art, music, and literature until late in the night. In his later years he was listed in the Marquis Who's Who social register, both in "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who in the World".

He loved drives to scenic places and one drive he enjoyed was the cliffs above San Diego Bay in Point Loma. He asked that when it was "his time", he be buried "high on a cliff overlooking Coronado and the bay". He died on November 30, 2001. His wish was granted and his burial site at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery overlooks that magnificent view. At his funeral were his wife Lita, his step-son Christian (who served as pall-bearer), and members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association he had befriended over the years, who are mostly ex-Navy personnel. Ironically, an Army firing squad was unavailable to be at his funeral, so at the last minute a U. S. Marine Corps firing squad graciously stepped in to perform the ceremonial duties. He was very proud of his military career and all service members and this would have pleased him greatly. His step-son is R. Christian Anderson, a film director and screenwriter.

External links

  • Pearl Harbor Survivors Association
  • Raymond D. Bowman's Memorial Page
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