Ernest "Doc" Paulin


1907 — 2007 Legendary brass band leader Ernest 'Doc" Paulin died Tuesday, Nov. 20, at a family member's home in Marrero. He was 100 years old. 'As iconic as my dad was, he was an old-school guy," says his son Philip Paulin. 'He was a real down to earth man who knew who he was. He was extremely independent. He always did things his way."

Paulin played trumpet and sang throughout his life, including at his 100th birthday party in June. 'He smiled a lot. We played a few tunes. To be honest, he was a ham," says Philip.

Doc Paulin spent a long career at the center of the New Orleans music community and was highly regarded by many of the musicians who started their professional careers in his band. In his early years, he played with other jazz legends including Kid Ory, Harold Dejan, Danny Barker, Papa Celestin. In the 1920s, he started the Doc Paulin Dixieland Jazz Band, and led it through seven decades as a traditionalist.

'He was adamant," says Philip. 'He was a real stickler for the uniform policy."

Dr. Michael White was one of many New Orleans musicians who started in Paulin's band.

'In a lot of ways, he exemplified the best aspects of the tradition " the music, conduct, attire, professionalism," says White. 'You had to have a tie and shiny black shoes no matter where the gig was. The gigs really started at his house. You'd have to go there first and he'd look you over. But I used to go over to his house just to listen to him. Much of what I carry with me about being a professional musician initially came from Doc."

Paulin was a mentor to many young musicians who started playing in the '50s through the '80s and went on to lead their own bands, including Gregg Stafford, Anthony 'Tuba Fats" Lacen, Donald Harrison Jr., Leroy Jones, members of the Majestic and Pin Stripe brass bands, and even some R&B players like Leroy 'Batman" Rankin. His last performance was at the 2004 Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Paulin also mentored his own children in music, with sons Aaron, Ricky, Dwayne, Philip, Scott and Roderick playing as the Paulin Brothers Brass Band. They are among his 13 children. Doc also is survived by wife Betty.

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