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Released February 20, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Tom "Bones" Malone plays trombone and serves as principal arranger for the CBS Orchestra on David Letterman's Late Show these days, but he cut his musical choppers with the Blues Brothers on the Saturday Night Live show two decades ago.

Malone, a Sumrall native, moved to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician in 1970 after attending The University of Southern Mississippi for two years, were he played in Southern Miss's marching band, The Pride of Mississippi. He returned to the Southern Miss campus in 1998 to perform during halftime of a Golden Eagles football game.

After a variety of gigs in the Big Apple playing for such performers as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, he joined the Saturday Night Live Band and stayed there for a decade, serving as musical director from 1981 until he left the show in 1985.

While at SNL, Malone was asked to write an arrangement for a comedy routine that two cast members, Dan Akroyd and the late John Belushi, had conceived. Malone arranged the piece, Belushi and Akroyd developed dance steps and found costumes, and the skit became a big hit when it aired on the late-night TV show.

Indeed, the Blues Brothers became an international success, and the group produced a triple-platinum record, toured the country and subsequently expanded the skit into a Universal motion picture. Malone – who plays 18 instruments professionally – played tenor sax, trombone, baritone sax and trumpet in the band. He arranged the music for 90 percent of the sound score and played the role of himself in the movie. He also appeared in the sequel, "Blues Brothers 2000."

After Malone left SNL in 1985, he spent the next several years immersed in numerous projects – not surprising for a musician who has been working professionally since the age of 14. He played on albums for Cyndi Lauper, Jeremy Wall, Pat Metheny and others; and in 1992, he helped Mark Shaiman arrange music for the motion picture "Sister Act."

In 1993, Malone joined the CBS Orchestra, directed by Paul Shaffer, and plays five nights a week for the Late Show with David Letterman. He has contributed more than 200 arrangements to the show and serves as the band's principal arranger.

One of the most in-demand studio musicians in the recording business today, he has been heard on more than 350 records and in more than 2,000 radio and television commercials. He has recorded with big-name artists such as James Brown, Steve Winwood, J. Geils Band, Pink Floyd, Average White Band, Paul Simon, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Diana Ross, David Sanborn, Van McCoy, the Spinners and SpyroGyra.

"My famous line is ‘Get out of the business'," he said with a laugh during a recent interview, when asked for his advice to struggling young musicians. "But seriously, my advice to musicians – or anybody else – is to follow your dreams and think big. Think big. Whatever your goals are, set them high because you only go around once."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM