Dick Stabile — Dino’s Go-To Guy

One of the things I enjoy about reading biographies of entertainment legends is learning about the less famous people whose lives revolved around the stars, like the guy I ran across in a book about Dean Martin. An accomplished saxophonist who’d gotten his start in the early big band era, Dick Stabile was the musical director for Martin and Lewis at the height of their fame as a comedy team, and for many years also backed up Dino on some of his best records. Along the way he found time to have a pretty good career as a bandleader.ds

Growing up in Newark meant that Stabile was just a stone’s throw from New York, and he wasted no time moving there in the 1920s to make a living as a professional musician. Still just a teenager, he bounced around a while and ended up in the well-regarded Ben Bernie’s orchestra, where he would spend the next decade learning the music business inside and out.

By the late 1930s Stabile had formed his own band and he found a lot of work in New York nightspots, including hotels and ballrooms, a fertile field for bands at that time. He also married singer Gracie Barrie, which proved to be a good move. Not only was she popular with fans of the band, she was also the one who kept the outfit going when Stabile later left for service in World War II.

In the post-war years the big band era was in decline and Stabile began to change with the times, working more in radio and eventually relocating in Los Angeles, where he later began to work with Martin and Lewis. He would spend a number of years as the duo’s musical director, appearing on stage with them and eventually on TV too. Even after the comedy team split, he continued to provide musical accompaniment for Martin on some of his best records. He also recorded with other stars — Della Reese for one — before eventually returning to the leadership of a band of his own. In his later years he relocated to New Orleans, where he was a popular part of the local music scene until his death in 1980, at age 71.

dscdDick Stabile Orchestra – “Come Back To Sorrento”

12 thoughts on “Dick Stabile — Dino’s Go-To Guy

  1. This is very interesting. I dan’t recall these people at all and did watch Dean Martins show when I could. I loved Deans sauceyness. Thabnks


  2. Yeah, he had a popular TV variety show for years, but I didn’t like it as well when it turned into that ‘roast’ format.


  3. Dick also played at the Chez Paree in Chicago for Sophie Tucker, Jimmy Durante, The Will Maston Trio and Sammy Davis Jr.
    His brother Joe, who also played in the Stabile Band, became Jerry Lewis’ manager until his death in Las Vegas. Stabile continued to play for Martin after the team broke up altho his also played at the Jerry Lewis MD telethons


    1. Please, forgive me. Used to go to the Chez Paree in Chicago. Don’t ever recall Dick conducting there. As far as I now, after Martin and Lewis, hen bacame the Musical/Entertainment Director at the “Cononut Grove,” at the Ambassador Hotel, in Hollywood. Am aware of Joe’s death, while managing Lewis. Dick had no love whatever for Lewis, or, his brother. We were very close during the 60’s and 70’s.


    2. If youm are so knowlegable about Dick Stabile, with without checking “Wickepedia” tell me when Dick Stabile passed awy and where..


    1. Hello Devin. Just read your comment about your grandfather. I am a Stabile from NJ Dolly Dawn was his cousin and mine so we are related. I continually work on the family tree. I have photos of the brothers who came from Lioni Italy in 1896 and other years. Contact me if you want more info. An I would like to get in touch with Judy.. Maureen Stabile Beck


  4. How does one enter to respond the the magnificent Dick Stabile. Not only a magnificent musicent, but also, tremendous human being. He was the impetus behind my being able to appear at the “Blue Room” of the Fairmont in New Orleans, Dec. 2003. Dick not only conducted, but also, wrote some of the grreatest arrangengements!!!! Truly miss him so very, very, much. I just LOVED him. What a straight-forward guy……


  5. Great website enjoy every moment. And thank -you for letting place my loving memories of Lewis lemon and Frankie lymon and most of all the one and only the boy from n..y.c. the music hitmaker Mr. George goldner. My best to all ! Signing -off toni ventura x


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