March 6, 1930 – April 12, 2017
Raymond Alvin Chamberlain, a jazz guitarist and bassist inducted last year into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, died last Wednesday in his Orchard Park home. He was 87.
Born in Lackawanna, he was a 1947 graduate of Lackawanna High School, where he studied trombone and guitar and played in the school band. Enlisting in the Army, he joined the 1st Army Band as a trombone player.
Leaving the service, Mr. Chamberlain moved to Hollywood, Calif., where he studied with guitarists Alan Ruess and Howard Roberts and performed in several bands, including Liberace’s orchestra and the Teddy Charles Trio at the Lighthouse, the legendary jazz club in Hermosa Beach. He also played at Ciro’s on Sunset Boulevard, a popular hangout for movie stars, with the Frances Faye Orchestra.
He toured nationally with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and the Pete Agiro Quartet before returning the Buffalo area in 1957.
Because a hand injury he suffered in a diving accident as a boy which caused him to lose feeling in two fingers of his left hand, he stopped playing guitar in 1970 and taught himself the bass. He was invited to join Jill Pellis & the Music Machine in 1975 and played with the band for five years in clubs throughout the area.
He went on to play with Thom Diina’s Orchestra, the Chuck Lawrence Orchestra, Joe Baudo’s Big Band, Joey Giambra’s Band, Carol McLaughlin’s Big Band and the Buffalo Jazz and Swing Orchestra. Frequently playing three to five nights a week, his last performance was March 1 with the Frank Gerard and Ray Chamberlain Quintet in Mason’s Grille in Hamburg.
Mr. Chamberlain also had a career in data processing management, beginning as a supervisor at Boss-Linco Lines in 1957. He went on to work at Graphic Controls Corp. and the University at Buffalo, then was director of computing services at Buffalo State College.
He was a member of the SUNY Computing Officers Association and Administrative Systems Executive Committee.
He also earned a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College.
He married the former Dolores Annette Costello in 1955. She died in 2008.
Survivors include a daughter, Karen; two sons, Dwight and Dean; three brothers, John, James and Paul; a sister, Rosemary Villiarini; a close friend, Annette Kukoleca; and six grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. April 29 in Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, 4220 Seneca St., West Seneca.
Story topics: jazz music