For your next playlist: Oggie and the Blue Lions

If you enjoy big band music, you should listen to the Columbia Blue Lions.

1940s band and leader; dancers in conga line

The Blue Lions featured in the 1943 Columbian on page 202.

C. Ogden Beresford, or Oggie, was a member of the Columbia College Class of 1943. A trumpet player, Beresford joined the University Band, played in the Symphony Orchestra, and was a member of the dance band, the Columbia Blue Lions, which included a tenor sax player from Julliard, Sid Caesar. He participated in three Varsity Show productions, twice as a member of the Pony Ballet (1940, 1941) and once as a second lead (1942). (There was no Varsity Show in 1943.) After graduation, Beresford joined the Midshipmen’s School at Columbia and even served as an instructor for a year. He married Mary Louise Meyer, Columbia Business School Class of 1943. A World War II Navy veteran, he served on the USS Baltimore in the Pacific.

Beresford donated to the University Archives a copy of his memoir, The Blue Sea Lion, and a CD with the music of the Blue Lions. The CD contains audio recorded in 1940-1941 and features both the band’s theme song and the popular hits of the day. According to Beresford, the Blue Lions were “top quality. We could swing until the foundations swayed in rhythm, or our ballads would keep the kids in a swoon long after the music stopped.” Beresford had one tape that “scratchy but oh, how the magic pours out. It was magic time.” (p. 26)

Selections are now available on the Columbia Blue Lions site and Beresford is right: It is magic.