In Memoriam: David Pitts (1924-2004)

Following pianist Homer Carlson’s sudden death in early May, another member of Rockford’s Val Eddy Trio, Dave Pitts (LaMond) died on June 17 in Glen Ellyn.

Pitts, who went by the stage name Dave LaMond, was a jazz guitarist and vocalist who sounded much like Billy Eckstein. Dave and his wife, Betty Lou, lived on Montague Street in south Rockford in the 1950s, when he performed at the Town Lounge at State and Winnebago streets. In 1951, he joined the Val Eddy Trio and played several well-known Chicago clubs such as Mister Kelly’s and The Cloister. The Val Eddy Trio with Homer Carlson and Dave LaMond had a popular nightly live television show in the 1950s on WTVO, the only TV station in Rockford at the time. Titled The Song Shop on Monday through Thursday, the show’s name changed to The Jewel Box Review for Friday evening viewers, sponsored by Hoffman and Sons Jewelers.

Former state Senator Joyce Holmberg’s husband, Gene, was the artist for the painted placards that announced the live songs to the television audience. The trio performed alongside such notables as Danny Thomas, Louis Armstrong, Les Brown, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Jack Benny and Martha Raye. They were represented by MCA of Chicago.

A memorial service was held on June 23 in Glen Ellyn with Chicago violinist Johnny Frigo performing with Joe Vito, Joe Gattone and Tom Daniels. Rockford attendees included Val Eddy, who performs at the Gun Club in Beloit and assorted stateline venues, and his daughter, Valeri DeCastris.

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