Musician/Photographer Bev LeCroy Passes

Bev LeCroy

James Beverly LeCroy was notable in Nashville for his classical and jazz contributions, as well as for his work as a photographer.

Bev LeCroy died on Saturday, Feb. 25, at age 93. LeCroy first picked up the trombone at age 13 in his native Chattanooga. He played in the University of Chattanooga marching band as well as on WDOD radio.

He moved to Nashville in 1943 and became a charter member of the revived Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He also played in the big swing bands of Francis Craig, Beasley Smith and Owen Bradley.

LeCroy performed “Near You” while with Craig. The band’s 1947 recording of this song became Nashville’s first million-selling record. Demand was so great for “Near You” that the city’s first record-pressing plant was built to meet it. The song still holds the record for remaining at No. 1 on the pop charts longer than any other, 17 weeks.

The trombonist was known to many Nashvillians for his long-running stint as a member of WSM radio’s Waking Crew band. In the early days of television, The Waking Crew also performed on WSMV’s “Noon Show.”

In the 1960s, Bev LeCroy began a second career as a staff photographer for the National Life & Accident Insurance Company. His photos of r&b singer Etta James in action on stage at Nashville’s New Era Club were used on the LP jacket of Etta James Rocks the House. These images were featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s celebrated “Night Train to Nashville” exhibit in 2004-05.

Bev Le Croy is survived by his wife Katherine, son James, daughter Donna, granddaughter Sylvia and great-grandson Austin. Funeral services will be held Tuesday (2/28) at 10 a.m. in Woodlawn’s Dignity Hall, 660 Thompson Lane.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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