Paul Tanner


Oral History Information

Interview Date
Birth Date
Deceased Date
Job Title
Musician, Trombonist

Paul Tanner joined Glenn Miller's newly formed band in 1938 and recorded all of the band's hits including "In the Mood" and "String of Pearls."  He often said "Everything the Glenn Miller Orchestra did from 1938-1942, I did."  When Glenn signed on to lead the military band during the war, the civilian band broke up and Paul moved to Los Angeles to record in the studios. While in southern California, Paul enrolled at UCLA, which offered him a teaching job and advanced degrees upon his graduation four years later; he went on to teach music there for nearly 30 years.  Among his students was a young songwriter named Brian Wilson who was forming a band and took an interest in the electronic music Paul would play in class. Years earlier Paul developed the Electro-Theremin, which like the Theremin produced eerie sounds, only Paul's Box (as he liked to call it) was operated by a wire in the back and not by waving your hands as the original required.  Paul felt this made his instrument more consistent to start and end on the same tone, which is just what Brian Wilson was looking for to begin his now classic recording of "Good Vibrations." Paul's Box was also used in several movies and on the TV series "My Favorite Martian" before Paul donated it to a local hospital for hearing tests.  It is thought that the instrument was destroyed in the 1994 LA earthquake.