A brilliant technician with a beautiful tone and a wide range, Ernie Royal
spent most of his career in the anonymous settings of studio bands, uplifting the music but only gaining fame among those in the music industry. The younger brother of altoist Marshall Royal
(who was nine years older), the trumpeter picked up early experience playing in Los Angeles with Les Hite & His Orchestra (1937-1938) and with Cee Pee Johnson
(1939). Both of the Royal
brothers were with Lionel Hampton & His Big Band (1940-1942) and Ernie Royal
hit the famous screaming high notes on the original Hampton
version of "Flying Home."
After a period in the Army (1942-1945), he worked in San Francisco with Vernon Alley
and in Los Angeles with Phil Moore
, and then spent much of 1946 with Count Basie & His Orchestra. Royal
was a member of Woody Herman's Second Herd during 1947-1949 and had short stints with Charlie Barnet
and Duke Ellington
. He played in France with Jacques Hélian & Son Orchestre, worked with Wardell Gray
in 1952, and was with Stan Kenton & His Orchestra twice (1953 and 1955). After becoming a staff musician at ABC in 1957, Ernie Royal
settled into the life of a well-respected studio musician, appearing on a countless number of recordings but rarely soloing. During his career he made few recordings as a leader: just ten titles in Paris in 1950 (six were reissued as part of a Xanadu album) and an LP for Urania in 1954.