Eugene "Snooky" Young (February 3, 1919-May 11, 2011) was an American jazz trumpeter. He was known for his mastery of the plunger mute, with which he was able to create a wide range of sounds.
Young was lead trumpeter of the Jimmie Lunceford band from 1939 to 1942. He played with Count Basie (three stints totalling eight years) and Lionel Hampton, among others, and was an original member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.
His longest engagement was with NBC, where, as a studio trumpeter, he joined the Tonight Show Band in 1967 and stayed with them until 1992, when the band was replaced by a new, smaller group.
He was also part of the touring ensemble that traveled with Doc Severinsen, performing live concert dates, corporate events, and headling shows in the main rooms of Las Vegas. The one nighters usually occurred on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, as Doc was committed to the Tonight Show weeknights.
For the Las Vegas gigs, the nucleus of Doc's touring band (Snooky, Conductor Steve Thoma, and drummer Paul Line) would commute to Vegas nightly, leaving Van Nuys airport around 6:00pm via Lear Jet, arriving in Las Vegas by 7:00. A limousine would transport the musicians directly backstage, where they would dress & prepare for an 8:00 pm & midnight show. Then back to the airport for the ride back to Los Angeles, where Doc & Snooky had their NBC gig, and Steve & Paul where doing studio sessions daily.
Snooky performed nightly with Doc, and he was featured prominently for several solos, as well as a trumpet version of "Dueling Banjos". Snooky was the musical centerpiece of the orchestra, and was always helpful, supportive, and encouraging to the younger players on the bandstand. He also was well known throughout the country, and airport skycaps would frequently get his attention by offering compliments about different projects that he had played on. He would always take a moment to chat with his fans & friends.
He continued to perform in Los Angeles, appearing on the classic 1976 Coconut Grove recording Bobby Bland and B.B. King Together Again...Live and again on King's 2008 album One Kind Favor.
His 1978 album with altoist Marshall Royal, Snooky and Marshall's Album, featured pianist Ross Tompkins, rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Louie Bellson.
He is one of horn players that accompanies rock group The Band on their live album Rock of Ages.
Young has recorded only three albums under his own name.
He received a NEA Jazz Masters Award for 2009 on October 17, 2008 at Lincoln Center in New York City.
As of 2010 he was still playing and recording with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
Lil Darlin' (tribute)