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Ernie Fields Jr. passes: Noted musician and producer in Hollywood
John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Ernie Fields Jr. passes: Noted musician and producer in Hollywood

Ernie Fields, Ernie Fields Jr, Tulsa Public Schools, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, John Neal, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

OBITUARY


Critically acclaimed musician and multi-instrumentalist Ernie Fields Jr. passed away at his home in Pasadena, Calif., on March 8. He was 89 years old. 

Fields built a career that introduced him to the most familiar names in the entertainment industry. He had an advantage that was not afforded to many others. 

His father Ernie Fields Sr. was a renowned band conductor. His illustrious career is highlighted in “Going Back To T-Town: The Ernie Fields Territory Big Band” book by Carmen Fields, sister to the younger Fields. 

Fields Sr.’s band was the eponym for Big Band rhythm and popularity in the 1930s and for two-three decades afterwards. A musical phenomenon that garnered him “world famous” status performing across the country.  

Ernie Fields, Ernie Fields Jr, Tulsa Public Schools, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, John Neal, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre
Ernie Fields Jr. performed around the country in addition to stopping through Tulsa to celebrate his success with his hometown. Photo Provided

Ernie Orlando Fields (known professionally as Ernie Fields Jr.) was born in Tulsa July 29,1934, while his musician father was traveling in upstate New York. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1951. Majoring in music education at Howard University, he graduated in 1960 and almost immediately became a part of his dad’s organization. 

Following in his father’s path, Fields embarked on an itinerary that would have him collaborating with legends and present-day and well-known contemporaries in the music industry. 

In his early career, Fields Jr. toured with the Temptations, Sam Cooke, the Impressions, and Lionel Hampton in addition to countless recognizable names in the entertainment industry. He was more than a band member. He was a multi-instrumentalist, playing all saxophones (baritone was his favorite), flute, and even bagpipes. A reliable recording session mainstay, his musical contributions are on gold and platinum record albums and uncredited on countless more. 

In a 2010 episode of “American Idol,” Fields Jr. played the didgeridoo for a contestant. In addition to performing on the program, Fields was the music contractor for the popular program and for “The Voice” and many others. 

His professional performances took him around the world, from London for the live concert (FreedomFest) honoring Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday, to Africa and Japan with the modern funk band of trombonist Fred Wesley, to parts of Europe with French singing sensation Johnny Hallyday. Fields was particularly proud of two performances at the White House during the Obama administration.  He also enjoyed serving as guest conductor from time to time for the Ray Charles Orchestra. 

One of Fields Jr.’s last performances in Tulsa was in 2019. He and his grandson, Ryan Brown, paid tribute to the city’s treasured past on Greenwood. The program entitled “The Golden Age of Greenwood” paid homage “to a period when R&B, soul, and funk music were sprouting right here in Tulsa,” according to Julie Wenger Wilson’s article in Tulsa People magazine announcing the program. 

See Also
Jeremy Kuzmarov, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Viola Ford Fletcher, Lessie Benningfield Randle, Hughes Van Ellis

In her book, Carmen Fields says “my brother, Ernie Fields Jr., who followed in Dad’s career footsteps and became a legend in his own right.” 

Fields Jr. is survived by his sister, Carmen (Lorenz Finison) of Boston, Mass., niece Karly Finison; three daughters, Pam Williams of Tulsa, Michelle Fields-Wilson and Lisa Fields Miller, both of Georgia; three grandchildren, Ryan Brown (Johanna Jobin), Paige (Blakely) Merrick (Victor) of Georgia, and Sheena Green of Tulsa; and six great grandchildren. He is also survived by hundreds of musicians he coached and mentored over the years. 

Services are pending. 

Reference: 

Watson, J. W. (2019, October 8). Ernie Fields Jr. honors his father’s musical legacy. Tulsa People. https://www.tulsapeople.com/city-desk/ernie-fields-jr-honors-his-fathers-musical-legacy/article_602d0b62-ea16-11e9-be79-674641d60218.html 

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