I mentioned in my first post that my brothers and I grew up with music as a major part of our lives, and we are so grateful for the support of our wonderful and musical parents, Robert and Lois Hornsby. Our father, Robert Hornsby, grew up in Yorktown, Virginia, and played tenor sax and clarinet in a group called Sherwood Hornsby and his Rhythm Boys. Robert’s brother Sherwood played piano, and another brother, Charles, also played clarinet and sax. They added a drummer and played swing music all over the Virginia Peninsula, including gigs at Toppings Trailer Park in Williamsburg and the Buckroe Beach Pavilion in Hampton. They played the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and other great dance orchestras of the 1930’s and 40’s. I can remember my uncles coming over to our house in Williamsburg and setting up in the living room with my dad. Uncle Sherwood would bring a little recording device that made small green 78 records of the performances. They would play and sing and laugh all through the night!
Our mom, Lois Saunier (Hornsby), grew up in Richmond, Virginia. Her father, Paul Saunier, was a long time keyboard artist and director of music for the Petersburg City Schools. He had his own radio show on WRVA in Richmond, the 50,000 watt voice of Virginia, playing the organ at the Second Baptist Church in Richmond and then later the large theater organ at the Mosque. My grandfather was also the first organist to play for the real Santa Claus at Miller & Rhoads in the tea room, where he would play both a Hammond Organ and a Steinway piano at the same time. Mom took piano lessons for years and she often played and sang songs for us, especially kiddie songs so we could run around the living room and sing along. She was also a strong vocalist, and sang in an Andrews Sisters type three-part harmony girl-group.
With all this musical activity it was not surprising that my brothers and I began to take lessons, play music, and think of it as something very cool to do. Our home was right across from the College of William & Mary, so we were able to go see live performances of great touring artists. When Peter, Paul, & Mary brought the folk music boom to Williamsburg we were able to go and see the Hootenanny live! We were primed and ready for the arrival of the rock and roll era, which came alive for us on the night of February 9, 1964 when we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. We would never be the same again!