Last Person Walt Disney Hired Was A Guitarist
While I’m sure this statement might be argued against by some guitar enthusiasts; Ernest McLean, at the very least is an amazing man and a legendary jazz guitarist.
Ernie was the last person directly hired by Walt Disney back in 1966 and is considered by many a master of guitar.
“I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” – Walt Disney
He just might be the world’s first Rock & Roll guitarist, having played with Fats Domino on his first hit , “The Fat Man” in 1949. Ernie is in his 80′s, and plays nearly every day at the park. His soft jazz guitar seems to be a permanent part of the ambiance of New Orleans Square.
When you think of the original guitar heroes of rock and roll, you probably don’t think Ernest McLean, but rather “Ernest McLean, who the heck is that?”. Well, take a listen to those early records by Smiley Lewis, Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew and marvel at the man burning up the frets. That, dear music fanatic, is Ernest McLean.
Capable of playing anything with strings, renowned for his ability on banjo, said to play chords not even known to exist, Ernest was one of the original members of Cosimo Matassa’s legendary studio band, the one that played on a startling number of rock ‘n’ roll’s first hits. A long time member of the Dave Bartholomew band, Ernest eventually migrated to L.A. where he took part in the cutting of Dr. John`s Gris Gris album. He played all the mandolin parts on the record and it was the FIRST TIME HE’D EVER PICKED UP THE INSTRUMENT!!
You can still catch Ernest playing regularly at Disneyland.
In an interview with Ernest McLean, he said he started playing the guitar when he was 11 years old in 1936. That means he’s roughly 85 years old. Who knows how much longer Ernie will be along, so go check him out…
If anyone has a better video of him, please let me know and I’ll update this post