Alumni Hot Shots {University Communications}

Image: Photos of SF State alumni


Photo of Peter Albin Peter Albin
This founding member of Big Brother and the Holding Company helped organize campus folk festivals that brought acts like the Chamber Brothers and Dick and Mimi Farina to campus.
Photo © John Byrne Cooke.
Photo of Vernon Alley Vernon Alley
Bass player
This jazz legend studied music at SF State in 1940 but he got his real education on the road playing bass for Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.
Photo of Sam Andrew Sam Andrew
Before he met fellow SF Stater Peter Albin and formed Big Brother and the Holding Company, he was a literature major who aspired to teach university-level linguistics.
Photo © John Byrne Cooke.
Photo of George Duke George Duke
Jazz musician
At age 4 he watched Duke Ellington perform and "went a little crazy," running around and shouting to his mother, "Get me a piano!" He grew up, earned his master's degree in composition and became a critically acclaimed keyboardist, vocalist and Grammy-nominated producer.
Photo of James Edward Goettsche James Edward Goettsche
Vatican organist
In 1961, Professor Alfred F. Alberico arranged for him to play for Fernando Germani, a famous virtuoso organist visiting from Rome. Goettsche was invited to complete his studies in Italy, where he has performed for millions as the pope's official organist.
Photo of Vincent Guaraldi Vincent Guaraldi
Jazz pianist
He died in 1976 after recording the soundtrack for "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown," the 15th and last Peanuts TV special to boast his original jazz riffs -- sounds that still bring smiles of recognition. He honed his talents in the beatnik club scene while studying music at SF State.
Photo of John Handy John Handy
In the 1950s, he blew his horn from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. at an Oakland jazz joint called Bop City then hustled over to SF State for an 8 a.m. biology class.
Photo of Dan Hicks Dan Hicks
Band leader
He was finishing his senior year when he signed up with the Charlatans, pioneers of the San Francisco Sound. He left the group to form his own "folk jazz" band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.
Photo of Ella Jenkins Ella Jenkins
Musician/recording artist
The "First Lady of Children's Music" majored in social work in the late '40s and early '50s and continues to use techniques for group work learned at SF State in the music she produces with children. She won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004.
Photo of Johnny Mathis Johnny Mathis
This 1957 "Chances Are" crooner was a star high jumper at SF State but he rose to even greater heights as one of America's favorite troubadours.

Photo of Kitty Margolis Kitty Margolis
Jazz singer
Renowned sax player and former SF State instructor Hal Stein asked this student to take over his long-standing gig at Peta's, a North Beach instituition.
Photo of Kent Nagano Kent Nagano
On top of his duties as the music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Bavarian State Opera, he guest conducts many of the world's leading orchestras.
Photo of Dan Nakamura Dan Nakamura
Hip hop producer
The Los Angeles Times called this design and industry major "dance music's greatest alchemist of the moment." Under the moniker "Dan the Automator," he followed up his Grammy-nominated "Gorillaz" with "Lovage," an eccentric concept album.
Photo of Jacqui Naylor Jacqui Naylor
She came to SF State to study marketing, but after hearing the album "Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin" in a music appreciation class she became seriously interested in vocal jazz. Today she performs to sold-out audiences.

Photo of Pauline Oliveros Pauline Oliveros
While pursuing her bachelor's degree in music composition in the 1950s, she was one of just two women in Dr. Wendell Otey's Composer's Workshop. She has since influenced American music profoundly. Many credit her with being the founder of present day meditative music.

Photo of Cal Tjader Cal Tjader
Hailed as the greatest anglo performer in Latin music, he studied music and education at SF State before signing on as the drummer for Dave Brubeck's trio. His album "La Onda Va Bien" won a Grammy in 1980.
Photo of Larry Vuckovich Larry Vuckovich
Jazz pianist/band leader/recording artist
At SF State, he divided his time between his coursework and gigs at local clubs, where he quickly made a name for himself as a leading jazz musician. In his early career, he played intermissions on the same bill as Duke Ellington, subbed for Vince Guaraldi and jammed with John Handy.
Photo of Wesla Whitfield Wesla Whitfield
This popular cabaret singer paid her way through SF State as a singing waitress. These days, she serves up torch favorites at music venues across the country.


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