In Memoriam: Frank de la Rosa

Frank de la Rosa

Bassist Frank de la Rosa, who played with a who’s who of jazz artists, has passed away. He was 85 years old.

Born Francisco de la Rosa, he was the son of a bassist but first picked up percussion instruments in Latin night clubs. He served in the US Army from 1953 to 1955. He began playing double bass at the age of 23 and took lessons with renowned bass teacher Frederick Zimmermann. He moved to Las Vegas and became the house bassist for the Sands Hotel from 1960 to 1963, where he performed with the Rat Pack, Paul Anka, Chubby Checker, Barbra Streisand, and Nat King Cole.

“It was like going to college and learning how to play in a big band and orchestras,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Camas-Washougal Post-Record. “That’s when the Mafia ran Vegas. They ran the Strip and the whole town. They took care of the musicians, but you had to watch your p’s and q’s.”

His career then took him to Los Angeles, where he performed with Harry “Sweets” Edison and the Don Ellis Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan. He retired from bass playing in 2003.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Frank de la Rosa.

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