Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Tue, Jan. 21

Editorial: Zelnick was an American treasure

We in Yavapai County often do not realize what national treasures we have living among us.

This past Thursday we lost another of them in Mel Zelnick, the man who was Benny Goodman's drummer during the 1950s.

Only those of us who were alive in the 1950s can appreciate what an incredible cultural phenomenon Benny Goodman's music was in its time.

Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing," with Zelnick's incredible drum licks, was every bit as big a hit in its day as any Beatles piece in the 1960s or Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in the 1980s.

Zelnick also worked with such music greats as Peggy Lee, Ray Charles and Nat King Cole.

Despite failing health in his later years, he shared his knowledge with promising young local musicians. He also was able to indulge his other passions, including his family, cooking and working with gemstones.

Since the early 1970s, he earned four certificates from the Gemological Institute of America and enjoyed faceting beautiful stones.

America was lucky to have him and so were all of us in Yavapai County for the time he was with us.

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