By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

‘Music Man’ Frank Messina dies

News-Register file photo##Frank Messina.
News-Register file photo##Frank Messina.

Frank Messina of McMinnville, a trumpet player, music teacher and band leader sometimes called McMinnville’s “Music Man,” died Wednesday, Oct. 20. He was 78.
No services are planned, although Messina will be honored by fellow musicians at a future concert.

Arrangements are under the direction of Macy & Son Funeral Directors. 

Messina grew up in Southern California and, as a child actor, appeared in a movie set in the World War II era, “The Red Danube.” As an adult, he continued to work in Hollywood, teaching actors how to appear as if they really were playing their instruments.

He was a session musician for RCA and Columbia Records. He played with the Beach Boys, Al Hirt and other artists.

He taught music at Culver City High School before moving to Oregon. Here he taught at Yamhill Carlton High School until retiring in 2015; he also taught at Linfield and George Fox universities.

Messina started his own big band in the early 1990s. The Frank Messina Band, with 16 to 18 players, performed regularly at Turkey Rama, the Mayor’s Ball and other events. It played for Gallery Theater’s 1940s Radio Show fundraisers and for plays such as “42nd Street” and “The Music Man.”

Fellow trumpet player Mark Williams, who now directs 99 West Band, the current version of the Frank Messina Band, first met Messina in a community band at Linfield. The two trumpeters felt “an instant connection,” Williams said.

“Frank’s musicianship was impeccable,” he said, recalling how Messina often took a solo on big band tunes. “He was the finest jazz trumpet player I knew personally.” 

Messina had “a story for everything,” Williams said, and he was known fondly for introducing numbers in a “soothing, lounge-lizard voice.”

He knew everyone in music, too, Williams said, from Doc Severinsen of “The Tonight Show” to Leonard Slatkin, who directed the Detroit Symphony, to Norman Leyden, leader of the Oregon Symphony Pops Orchestra.

Messina is survived by his wife, Joyce of McMinnville, a son, Michael, and stepchildren Mark, John and Audrey; and three grandchildren.

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