Considered to be one of the Midwest’s finest trumpet players, Bob Olsen is not only a great musician, but also spent 45 teaching music to literally thousands of musicians at Utica, NE (1 Year), North Bend, NE (8 Year), Fremont, NE Junior High School (35 Years) and Bennington, NE (1 Year).
Born in 1929 to Walt and Dolly Olsen, he grew up in a musical family that included his father who taught music in Fremont, Nebraska (Fremont Senior High School and Midland Lutheran College) for over 40 years. His sister performed with Fred Waring & his Pennsylvanians.
Bob started playing professionally in the 6th grade with Mike Reilly’s Band, and later with The Dick Mango Band. In his early years he played in most of the professional dance bands in the Omaha-Lincoln area, including Johnny Cox. In the mid 1940’s he performed on KORN Radio in Fremont, NE with “The KORN-KINGS”. He recorded a ½ hour radio show during his lunch hour during high school.
Bob has played on the “the road” with several nationally known big bands, including The Jan Garber Orchestra and The Wayne King Band.
He spent 18 years playing lead trumpet with The Dick Wickman Band, traveling to New York City and Chicago. In Chicago, the Wickman Band performed live on WLS and WGN. While on tour, he had the opportunity to perform at such legendary ballrooms as The Roseland in New York City – The Aragon in Chicago and The Melody Mill.
The Dick Wickman Band also performed on a weekly TV show on KOLN-TV in Lincoln, NE for 8 years. During his time with Wickman, he recorded on 6 (Six) Wickman LP Vinyl albums
. He has also performed with The Dennis Wesley Band, The Rudy Kaye Band, The Moostasch Joe Band, Jay Sterling Orchestra, Bobby King, Rich Sperling’s “Big-6”, The Orville Von Seggern Band, Don Hamsa Starlighters and for the last 16 years played lead trumpet with The Street Railway Company which has had a regular gig at Trovato’s in Omaha, NE playing Dixieland music.
He has toured and performed in Czechoslovakia and Spain with the band and they have recorded 3 CD’s.
As a performer, Bob started out by winning a Superior Rating in a National Music Contest on trumpet and winning 2 Nebraska State Music Contests as a cornet soloist. Olsen received a BS and BA Degree at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, NE and as Masters Degree in Music at The University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
His concert bands have won numerous Superior Ratings in Competition. During the time that Bob Olsen taught band to the grade school and junior high school students and they then matriculated to Fremont Senior High School under the tutelage of his father, Walter R. Olsen. Fremont, Nebraska produced some of the finest bands and individual performers in Nebraska music history.
Olsen received “The Donald Lentz Award for The Outstanding Nebraska Bandmaster” in 1987 and he was inducted into The Nebraska Music Educators Hall of Fame the same year. Recently Olsen has served as Director of The “1st Nebraska Volunteers” – a Civil War Reenactment Band performing the songs of The Civil War Era at patriotic events. He still performs 1st Trumpet with The Omaha Shrine Band & the Council Bluffs, IA American Legion Band.
Olsen’s students have gone on play on Broadway, have appeared on Dick Clark’ s American Bandstand, have headlined in Las Vegas and Broadway, have been musical directors at Disneyworld, have backed countless legendary “musical stars”, have sold literally “millions” of records, have played on Movie Soundtracks, and appeared in major motion pictures. Olsen’s influence over literally thousands of young musicians will be felt in many years to come. Welcome to The Nebraska Music Hall of Fame.
See video from appearance in Fremont 5-23-2004 (may take several moments to load)