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Obituary: Chris Larson

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Chris Larson, 57, of Idyllwild, died from a malignant brain tumor at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs on Tuesday, April 17, 2007.

Chris was born Nov. 4, 1949, and attended Indian Hills High School in Oakland, N.J. Bitten early in life by the music bug, after high school Chris moved to Florida and attended the University of South Florida, where he received a degree in music education.

But it soon became apparent to him that his heart was in music performance, so after spending a number of years playing bass in local bands in Jacksonville, Chris packed up his van and drove cross-country to Los Angeles where he decided to take his chances in the highly competitive Southern California music scene.

Chris also had a natural talent for music arranging, and after spending several years performing on the Azure Seas and Stardancer cruise ships in the 1980s (with some of this tenure as musical director for the showroom orchestras), he returned to Los Angeles with a new “day job” as a result of his cruise-ship contacts.

Chris became a highly sought-after music arranger for cruise ship entertainers, building his business through word-of-mouth to the point where he had clients seek out his services from all over the world.

Chris moved to Idyllwild in 1998, running his arranging business out of the home, and continuing to perform, both as a sideman and as leader of his own “party” band, The West Coast Xpress.

Although Chris played many gigs off the Hill, he also was a frequent performer at Café Aroma, playing bass with the Jeff Barash Quartet, Paul Carman and Sandii Castleberry, among others. He was known on the mountain as a versatile and highly competent musician, and as a genuinely funny guy. Those who knew Chris would often bear witness to his silly (but spot-on!) impressions of Chief Inspector Clouseau, Rodney Dangerfield, Maxwell Smart and Art Fern.

A memorial service and celebration of Chris’s life is planned for 11 a.m. Friday, May 4, at Light of the Canyon Church, 101 S. Chaparral Court, Anaheim Hills.

Chris is survived by his brother, Don Larson of Herndon, Va.

Chris’s longtime roommate, Dave Hitchings, would like to thank all who participated in Chris’s “Play and Pray” tribute concert on April 15 at Café Aroma. Thanks also to Frank Ferro for being such a generous supporter of local, Idyllwild musicians.

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