Final Note: David E. Bourne

David BourneLife Member. Piano

By Jason Bourne, son

Magic piano man David E. Bourne passed away on Jan. 30, 2015, at his home surrounded by his loving family.

David was a piano player, bandleader, guitarist, singer, author, historian, actor, teacher and horseman who adored his trusty steed, Boston. He participated in mounted shooting and Wild West shows for many years, turning into a true California cowboy. He was a loving family man who adored his wife, Patty, an artist, sculptor and singer. He cherished his children, Rachel and Jason, both musicians. His little dogs, Lizzie and Peaches, held a special spot in his heart. He enjoyed lifelong friendships with many — too numerous to mention — and played music with them through the decades.

David was born Sept. 20, 1939, to Ted and Jean Bourne in the Santa Maria area. They moved to Anaheim where Ted became the instrumental music instructor for the Anaheim School District. David started piano at age 6. His father also taught him trombone, baritone and string bass. Music filled his high school years.

David attended USC on a full scholarship majoring in music education. He was a member of KA fraternity and graduated in 1961 with a master’s degree in music. During his college years he played piano in the Calico Saloon at Knott’s Berry Farm. He continued working at Knott’s after graduation playing string bass with the Wagonmasters, the country group who entertained in the Wagon Camp from 1955 to 1968. The Wagonmasters recently received the Pioneer Trails Award from the Western Music Association. His love of Knott’s Berry Farm led him to publish the book “Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town: A pictorial retrospective 1940-1968.”

Shortly after college, David was drafted into the Marines. He was the Honor Guard for his platoon and served his time at Los Alamitos where he worked in recruiting but had plenty of time to play music. His life took a wonderful turn when he met Patty. David formed a folk singing group called the Californians. A month-long gig was on the horizon touring the Southwest. Patty joined the group and by the end of that month, both knew their relationship was more than music. They were married in 1964.

1967 found David playing piano at the Hock Shop Bar on Sunset. It became a favorite hangout and musical scene hosted by owner and master banjo player Spencer Quinn. Many of David’s favorite lines were taken from Spencer. While working there David formed the Maple Leaf Club, dedicated to the preservation of classic ragtime piano. Simultaneously he also began his 48-year gig “behind the scenes” at the fabled Magic Castle in Hollywood. He played there until December 2014. David’s gigs were not one-nighters; almost all lasted decades.

David had many musical irons in the fire. It was not unusual for him to play with three or four bands in a year plus the main gig at the Castle. For many years he led the Resurrection Brass Band, a 20-piece New Orleans marching band. When that disbanded he formed the Dawn of the Century Ragtime Orchestra. The late ’60s and ’70s found him entertaining in downtown L.A. at Casey’s Bar. That lasted 17 years! The 6th and Grand Band evolved from Casey’s. The core players remained with him for the rest of his life. For about 10 years he was a regular on the Musicos Rancheros Visitadores ride. He derived much pleasure playing music at the camps in Santa Barbara surrounded by the best horses in the country.

From 1989 until 2005 David led his own western singing group, the Lobo Rangers, featuring his wife, Patty. This led to cowboy poetry gatherings throughout the western states where he performed his show “Saloon Piano of the 19th Century.” Now fully transformed into a genuine California cowboy, David was the piano player in the Gem Saloon on the HBO hit series “Deadwood.” His saloon piano recordings were used extensively throughout all three seasons of the show. Other acting credits include the History Channel’s “Wild West Tech,” “The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth” and “The Revenge of Wyatt Earp.”

David is survived by his wife of 50 years, Patty; two children, Rachael and Jason; his two little dogs, Peaches and Lizzie; and many, many lifelong friends. The center of his life was family. He was so proud of them and loved them unconditionally. He had no regrets. He lived a very full, fun, fun loving musical life on his terms. Patty said David played music every day at their home in Agoura where half of the living room was a stage with piano, drums, guitar, and microphones at the ready for friends to stop by and play. Patty said, “The piano keys are silent now, but the music will never leave me.”  ­

3 thoughts on “Final Note: David E. Bourne

  1. Kristine Stimson

    I a so sorry to hear of Dave’s passing. Dave, Patty and Billy came to my home and played for my sister’s 50th birthday. They were so amazing. We went to see him perform as often as I could. Wonderful musician. Even more incredible human being

  2. David M. wagner

    David and I were friends for over 40 years. I’ll always miss singing with him at Casey’s Bar, the Shenandoah and all those great parties at Margies. Seeing his children grow into adulthood was special. All my love to Patty. An amazing woman married to an amazing man. Thank you to David and Patty for making me part of their lives.
    Sleep well David.
    David Wagner

  3. Olaf Arneson

    Wow. I remember Dve Bourne well. I enjoyed his ragtime and other tunes in the early 70s both at Casey’s Bar and at Shakey’s during the Maple Leaf club gatherings. There were many great performers there, but he and Dick Zimmerman were the BEST. He gladly played my requests. MEMORIES of a better time RIP David Bourne.

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