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Biography

Art Van Damme (born April 9, 1920 in Norway, Michigan – February 15, 2010) was a jazz accordionist.

He began playing the accordion at age nine and started classical study when his family moved to Chicago in 1934. In 1941 he joined Ben Bernie's band as an accordionist. He adapted Benny Goodman's music to the accordion. From 1945 to 1960 he worked for NBC, performing on The Dinah Shore Show, Tonight, The Dave Garroway Show and other radio and TV shows with Garroway. He recorded 130 episodes of the 15-minute The Art Van Damme Show for NBC Radio. He has, of course, no relation to Jean Claude Van Damme.

Personnel in the Art Van Damme Quintet: Art Van Damme (accordion), Chuck Calzaretta (vibraphone), Claude Scheiner (guitar), Lou Skalinder (bass) and Max Mariash (percussion).
Van Damme toured Europe and was also popular with jazz listeners in Japan and regularly won the domestic Downbeat reader's poll for his instrument in the same period.

Art Van Damme was married, had three children and six grandchildren. Although he retired to Florida, he continued to perform nearly to the age of 90. He had been ill with pneumonia for several weeks when he died on February 15, 2010 at the age of 89.

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