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WATKlNS, SAMUEL "SAMMY"

WATKlNS, SAMUEL "SAMMY"

WATKlNS, SAMUEL "SAMMY" (ca. 1904-26 July 1969) was a well-known dance orchestra leader and songwriter in Cleveland whose style, quality, and good taste brought pleasure to Greater Clevelanders for over 40 years.

Born in a small Russian village, the son of Joseph Watkovitz, Sammy was brought to Cleveland by his parents when he was a year old. He learned to play the violin and saxophone and went into the music business after attending Glenville High School. The music of Watkins and his orchestra made dining and dancing a memorable occasion for guests at the Vogue Room at the old HOLLENDEN HOTEL for 13 years and at the Terrace Room of the Statler Hilton for 12 years. Watkins was generally credited with the discovery of singer Dino Crocetti who sang with his orchestra at the Vogue Room as Dean Martin from 1940 to 1943. He also played for the annual Ribs n' Roast show for 20 years and numerous private gatherings throughout the area. Among his many songs, Watkins composed an all-purpose number entitled "Greatest Location in the Nation" which he could adapt for any local occasion from a charity drive to a civic celebration. He also wrote jingles for the post office and the Cleveland Indians baseball team. In later years he operated a music booking agency for orchestras and combos playing under the Watkins name at parties, dances and nightclubs. He was a businessman as well, serving as President of a steel company, Seaway Warehouses.

Watkins and his wife Lee Curry had a daughter, Mrs. Stephanie Feldman and a son Jon. He died in Cleveland.