Professor David E. Bourne’s Magnificent Ensemble will assemble in March to play a
musical tribute to a very prolific, talented, gentle, musical soul. Magic piano man
David E. Bourne passed away on January 30, 2015 at his home surrounded by his loving
David was a piano player, band leader, guitarist, singer, author, historian, actor,
teacher and horseman who adored his trusty steed, Boston. He participated in mounted
shooting and Wild West Shows for many years, turning into a true California cowboy. He
was a loving family man who adored his wife, Patty, an artist, sculptor and singer. He
cherished his children, Rachel and Jason, both musicians. His little dogs, Lizzie and
Peaches held a special spot in his heart. He enjoyed lifelong friendships with many too
numerous to mention and played music with them through the decades.
David was born September 20, 1939 to Ted and Jean Bourne in the Santa Maria area.
They moved to Anaheim where Ted became the instrumental music instructor for the
Anaheim School District. David started piano at age 6. His father also taught him
trombone, baritone and string bass. Music filled his high school years.
At USC, David was on a full scholarship, an active member of Kappa Alpha, and
earned his degree in music. During his college years he played piano in the Calico Saloon
at Knotts Berry Farm. He continued working at Knotts after graduation playing string
bass with the Wagonmasters, the country group who entertained in the Wagon Camp
from 1955 to 1968. The Wagonmasters recently received the Pioneer Trails Award from
the Western Music Association. His love of Knotts Berry Farm led him to publish the book,
“Knotts Berry Farm’s Ghost Town” (A pictorial retrospective 1940-1968).
Shortly after college David was drafted into the Marines. He was the Honor Guard for
his platoon and served his time at Los Alamitos where he worked in recruiting but had
plenty of time to play music. His life took a wonderful turn when he met Patty. David
formed a folk singing group called “The Californians”. A month long gig was on the
horizon touring the Southwest. Patty joined the group and at the end of that month both
knew their relationship was more than music. They were married in 1964.
1967 found David playing piano at the Hock Shop Bar on Sunset. It became a favorite
hangout and musical scene hosted by owner and master banjo player Spencer Quinn.
Many of David’s favorite lines were taken from Spencer. While working there David
formed the Maple Leaf Club, dedicated to the preservation of classic ragtime piano.
Simultaneously he also began his 48 year gig “behind the scenes” at the fabled Magic
Castle in Hollywood. He played there until December 2014. David’s gigs were not
one-nighters. Almost all lasted decades.
David had many musical irons in the fire. It was not unusual for him to play with
three or four bands in a year plus the main gig at the Castle. For many years he led the
Resurrection Brass Band, a twenty piece New Orleans marching band. When that
disbanded he formed the Dawn of the Century Ragtime Orchestra. The late 60’s and 70’s
found him entertaining in downtown L.A. at Casey’s Bar. That lasted 17 years! The 6th
and Grand Band evolved from Casey’s. The core players remained with him for the rest
of his life. For about ten years he was a regular on the Musicos Rancheros Visitadores
ride. He derived much pleasure playing music at the camps in Santa Barbara surrounded
by the best horses in the country.
Patty and David considered nature to be “their cathedral”. What better way to enjoy it
than “The Musicians Family Campout” in Sycamore Canyon. This “gig” lasted for 10
years during the 1980’s. Every August Patty would organize the 10 to 15 musical families
at the campground. Music, singing, good communal food were enjoyed for four days. All
were L.A. session players or touring with various recording artists. That drew more
musicians from town who jumped out of cars at night with their acoustic instruments to
strum and sing around the campfire into the wee hours. These lifelong friends recently
celebrated the 50th wedding anniversary of David and Patty at their home in Agoura.
From 1989 until 2005 David led his own western singing group, The Lobo Rangers,
featuring his wife, Patty. This led to cowboy poetry gatherings throughout the western
states where he performed his show “Saloon Piano of the 19th Century. Now fully
transformed into a genuine California cowboy, David was the piano player in the Gem
Saloon on the HBO hit series “Deadwood”. His saloon piano recordings were used
extensively throughout all three seasons of the show. Other acting credits include History
channel’s “Wild West Tech”, “The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth” and “The Revenge of Wyatt
Added to his busy musical schedule was Marolyn’s parties three times a year, St.
Patrick’s Day, 4th of July and Christmas. This was another decade long gig from 2004 to
2014. This was a way to thank his many fans for coming to hear him since his first days
at Shakey’s Pizza in Hollywood.
David is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patty, two children, Rachel and Jason, his
two little dogs, Peaches and Lizzie and many, many lifelong friends. The center of his life
was family. He was so proud of them and loved them unconditionally. He had no regrets.
He lived a very full, fun, fun loving musical life on his terms. Patty said David played
music every day at their home in Agoura where half of the living room was a stage with
piano, drums, guitar, microphones at the ready for friends to stop by and play. Patty
said, “The piano keys are silent now, but the music will never leave me.”
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