Obituary of Robert LeRoy Badgley
A fixture of the world jazz stage, melodic bass player Bob (Badge) Badgley passed away at his home, Friday evening, Feb. 24, 2012, surrounded by dear friends Tom and Mary Hall and Chris Hudgins and Pam Egan, and with his beloved wife of thirty-one years, Samantha Badgley, by his side. Born in Detroit, Michigan, June 23, 1928, Badge began his first piano lessons at six, at the insistence of older sister Lilian, a church organist. Picking up the trombone, he attended the Detroit area's music high school, Cass Tech, where he began his love affair with the string bass. Serving in the U.S. Army from 1946 to 1953, Bob was stationed in Berlin, leading the 298th Army Band, which also included the young Chet Baker. After a stint in the22nd Army band in San Francisco, he began to play in the Los Angeles area, with Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Fergusson, Oscar Peterson, and other jazz icons. In 1971, urged by Julie London, Bob moved to Las Vegas, playing at the Riviera, the Las Vegas Hilton, and Caesars Palace. Beginning in the late seventies, he often toured the U.S., Europe, Korea, and Japan. One of his two favorite tours was with Julie Andrews, from Japan to Norway and back again. The other was Bob's work in Joe Williams' rhythm section, playing throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan. When not globe-trotting, Badge continued to work in Nevada, including playing with Vinnie Falcone, backing Frank Sinatra at Caesars in Las Vegas, Tahoe, and Atlantic City. Bob also worked with pianist/composer Dan Skea, which led to a number of cds with their quintet, "Full Circle," and work at Spago's. In the early eighties, at Artemis Ham Hall, Bob played in the orchestra conducted by Aaron Copeland, his favorite classical evening. The mid-eighties saw Bob and guitarist Joe Lano recording, as a duo, Jazz to Bach. Through so much of his musical odyssey, Bob's adored wife Samantha was by his side. He loved to tell of Sam's celebrating his sixty-first birthday, in 1989, with a party in New York where Badge was playing Carnegie Hall, backing Joe Williams, in the Norman Simmons quartet, along with Marlena Shaw and the Count Basie Band. Bob's work at the Four Queens' Monday Night Jazz was also the stuff of legend, as were his many evenings at the Debbie Reynolds Hotel with Joey Singer. In the early nineties, Frank Gagliardi, director of UNLV's Jazz Studies, called on Badge to teach at UNLV. With the next director, pianist Stefan Karlsson, Bob recorded Tranquility, afterwards playing dates with Stefan and drummer Bill Moody, the author of the Evan Horne jazz mysteries. A long stint at the Santa Fe, with Mike Breene and Santo Savino was one of his favorite gigs during that period. As Bob's playing days waned, in 2010 Sam arranged a celebration of his career, with five or six bass players sitting in, the group led by Sinatra's maestro, Vinnie Falcone. Soon, a similar gathering of musicians will play in celebration of Bob's musical life and of his love for Sam. Badge is survived by his loving wife Samantha, his cat Blue, sister June Gray, step daughter Julie Anna Schaefer-Space, her husband, Rick, grandchildren Seth, Gabriel, and Yayi, Allison Yather, and Evan Space, and nieces Fran Grassman, Carol Milkowski and husband Roger, and Aralyn Vinande and husband Marvin, and her daughter Kate Dennis and husband Sean, as well as close friend/brother Bob Ochoa and his extended family. In lieu of flowers, Bob requested that donations be made to the Jazz Scholarships at UNLV or to the Nathan Adelson Hospice. A "celebration of life" for Bob will take place on Sunday, 03/11/2012 from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. At the home of Tony Madre and Eddie Ryan, who so graciously offered to have it for Bob. Bob loved to play and party there. There home address is: 2770 Horseshoe Dr., Las Vegas, NV. 89120. .