Fired bandleader of Glenn Miller Orchestra claims management questioned hiring of black musicians
Gary Tole is suing for breach of contract and seeking $600,000 in damages
By Robert Gearty / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The management of the world famous Glenn Miller Orchestra isn’t in the mood when it comes to having black musicians in the big band, a lawsuit charges.
The orchestra’s fired bandleader, Gary Tole, makes the startling claim in papers filed Friday in Manhattan Federal Court.
He claims that after he hired two black musicians to join the orchestra in June 2011 manager Charles DeStefano questioned the hiring.
“This is the Glenn Miller Orchestra, not the Count Basie Orchestra,” DeStefano told Tole, the lawsuit charges.
Tole told DeStefano he was offended by the comment and “intended to continue hiring the best musicians without regard to their race,” the lawsuit says.
“I never said that,” said DeStefano in an interview.
The two black musicians Tole hired were drummer Holbrook Riles and piano player Theron Brown, says the lawsuit.
Tole is suing Glenn Miller Productions for breach of contract and employment discrimination and is seeking $600,000 in damages stemming from his firing in December. He was booted days after he publicly criticized seven members of the band for their performance at a jazz club in Japan with other musicians in which they “played poorly, cursed loudly, and acted in an obnoxious manner.”
The seven told management they would quit if Tole wasn’t fired.
The lawsuit says Tole was fired, in part, because of his public criticism of the seven orchestra members.