Posted by themusicsover on September 5, 2013
Walter “Larry” Thornton
June 22, 1932 – September 5, 2013
Larry Thornton was a popular and highly influential high school band director who, for two decades ran the immensely regarded music program at William S. Hart High School in Newhall, California, just north of Los Angeles. Born in Central California’s Kern County, Thornton landed at Newhall’s Placerita Junior High School during the early ’60s. In 1969, he took over the already storied music program at Hart High School. Until his retirement in 1989, Thornton mentored what would become some of the greatest high school marching and stage bands in the state at the time. Under Thornton’s direction, Hart’s Chieftains marching band and Braves stage band won numerous county and statewide competitions. A trumpet player himself, Thornton was a direct influence on one student in particular, Glen Marhevka, who went on to play trumpet for the multi-platinum selling band, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Thornton’s influence was so great that during the late 2000′s, former students formed an appreciation society they called Mr. Thornton’s Opus, in a nod to “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” the 1995 award-winning Richard Dreyfuss film that centered around a remarkable high school band director. During the late 2000′s, Thornton suffered a serious stroke and was diagnosed with cancer in later years. Larry Thornton was 81 when he passed away on September 5, 2013.