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Duke Dejan: 1909-2002
Duke Dejan
Saxophone, bandleader

Born: February 4, 1909 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Died: July 5, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Duke Dejan, founder of the Olympia Brass Band

Copyright © 2002 


Harold Andrew Dejan, generally know as Duke Dejan, was the leader of the famous Olympia Brass Band in New Orleans. He was a member of the Eureka band after the war, and formed his own broup in 1951.

The band became the Olympia in 1958, and was established as a major attraction at Preservation Hall in the city, as well as a traditional street band for weddings, funerlas and public celebrations. The band toured in Europe on soem 30 occasions, and made one tour to Africa. They performed on film and television.

A saxophonist, he performed in Storyville at the height of its noteriety, and later combned a job with a shipping company with leading the Olympia Band. He introduced new repertoire to the band, but maintained a largely traditional approach. He set up the Young Olympians Brass Band as a source of fresh talent for his group.

He was forced to give up playing saxophone after a stroke in 1991, but continued to lead the band, play tambourine and sing.

He is survived by his daughter, Lovetta Dejan Mahon, of New Orleans; his brother Leo, of Los Angeles; 4 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; 19 great-great-grandchildren; and 3 great-great-great-grandchildren.

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