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Fans And Celebrities Raise $70,000 For Woody Herman

October 1, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Fans of jazz bandleader Woody Herman have sent more than $70,000 to help the ailing and impoverished musician, but his lawyer said Wednesday that more money is still needed.

Celebrity friends such as Frank Sinatra and Clint Eastwood are among those who have contributed to the Woody Herman Trust Fund, said Kirk Pasich.

The 74-year-old wheelchair-bound Herman was nearly evicted last month from the home he owned for almost 40 years until he lost it in an Internal Revenue Service auction. The IRS was trying to recoup $1.6 million in back taxes assessed against him.

Pasich was joined by Herman’s daughter, Ingrid Herman Reese, James Warrick, Illinois president of National Association of Jazz Educators, and officials of jazz radio station KKGO to outline the money received so far and discuss new fund-raising efforts.

Besides $5,000 from Sinatra and $4,000 from Eastwood, there have been contributions in the form of checks or cash stuffed into envelopes by fans around the country who heard of Herman’s difficulties, Pasich said.

But despite the contributions, Pasich characterized the money as ″only a drop in the bucket″ compared to Herman’s outstanding tax and medical debts.

Many of those who donated money remembered dancing to ″Woodchoppers Ball″ and listening to Herman’s Young Thundering Herd as servicemen.

″I am 65 years old and have been listening to your music since World War II,″ wrote one contributor. ″I’ll never forget the pleasure I got listening to your band for many hours when I was thousands of miles out in the Pacific with the Marine Corps. Your swinging, bluesy music got me through the war.″

The letter, signed ″A Friend,″ was one of thousands received at KKGO, said station owner and general manager Saul Levine.

″There was an avalanche of mail that came to us,″ after news reports of Herman’s plight, Levine said. ″In fact, the Post Office just sent anything with ‘Woody Herman’ on it over to our address.″

Another top money-raiser for the fund was the Abundant Life Community Church of Newport Beach, Calif., which raised $17,000.

KKGO is holding a fund-raiser and jazz tribute to Herman on Oct. 23, headlined by Tony Bennett at the Wadsworth Theater. Other performers are Rosemary Clooney, Dudley Moore, and Doc Severinsen and the Tonight Show Orchestra.

Pasich also said the legal issues permitting Herman to stay in the house have not been resolved.

The home’s owner, businessman William Little, agreed last month to permit KKGO to pay the $4,600 owed on Herman’s back rent, and to permit Herman to remain in his home until Jan. 1, 1989.

But Pasich said the agreement had not been finalized.

″I hope we don’t have any problem with this, but frankly I thought it would have been signed two weeks ago,″ said Pasich.

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