Before Doc Severinsen, before Paul Shaffer, before The Max Weinberg 7 and certainly before Questlove and The Roots, there was Milton Drulegg (December 2, 1918-April 6, 2015), the bandleader for the archetypal late-night show, “Broadway Open House.”
In the early 1950s show, Delugg set the stage for late-night music directors to come. In addition to providing the musical glue that held disparate acts together–from comedians to singers to movie stars–the musical director could even serve as a good foil for the host’s comedy, as Delugg did for “Broadway Open House” host Jerry Lester. He led the band not behind a keyboard or a trumpet or a guitar, but an accordion.
Delugg moved on to other shows–“Dagmar’s Canteen,” “The Gong Show,” and even a year with Johnny Carson and “The Tonight Show” between the reigns of Skitch Henderson and Doc Severinsen.
In the 1960s, he veered into the space-age-monster-comic genre, recording versions of popular TV monster shows like “The Munsters.” He contributed “Hooray for Santy Claus” to the 1964 cult classic film “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”
Perhaps less known was his co-writing credit on “Orange-Colored Sky” for the decidedly unmonstrous Nat King Cole. He also co-wrote “Hoop-Dee-Doo” with lyricist Frank Loesser, a polka that has been covered by Perry Como, Lawrence Welk and Weird Al Yankovic.