Interview: Sonny Anderson (His career as Disney’s longtime talent booker)

Disneyland/Disney world talent booker Sonny Anderson on Main Street
Disneyland/Disney world talent booker Sonny Anderson on Main Street

Sonny Anderson was a legendary award-winning talent booker in the music industry, and was much loved as the director of talent booking for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. He began his career with Disneyland playing drums in the Disneyland band in 1956.

AUDIO INDEX
1:07 Director of talent booking for Disneyland, Stan Freese, describes Sonny Anderson and recalls working with him

4:15 Sonny Anderson’s start with Disney; Played in band in Long Beach and was teaching percussion; He was asked to play on the Disneyland Band record album, and was offered a job; Starting performing at the Disneyland Hotel at night

7:32 Sonny was writing musical arrangements for the band; Disneyland director of entertainment Tommy Walker made Sonny a full-time arranger at Disneyland; His secretary, singer Kay Bell; Sonny’s started a rock band and performed with that band; The band was called the Spacemen and also the Mustangs; Dress code at Disneyland; Walt Disney said he wanted to build a new stage in Tomorrowland12:56 Stan Freese talks about the Tomorrowland Terrace stage, that Walt Disney told Sonny he would have built; Sonny had a talent at discovering up and coming bands; More about the Tomorrowland Terrace, the stage that rose up from the ground; Stan’s sons Josh Freese and Jason Freese performed at Tomorrowland Terrace

16:09 Stan talks about the Night of Joy at Disneyland; Sonny talks about coming up with the idea for Night of Joy; Dick Nunis was skeptical about it

18:03 Stan remembers The World Symphony Orchestra which was put together for and performed at the grand opening of Walt Disney World; Sonny talks about Bob Jani; Bob had unique ideas and came up with the idea for the World Symphony Orchestra

22:06 Bob Jani promoted Sonny to talent booker; Sonny sat in with a band and Bob told him he could not do that; Sonny grew a moustache, which was not allowed at Disneyland

25:20 Stan discuss Sonny Anderson’s musical arrangements; Bob Jani was a genius in live entertainment; Stan remembers his first Disneyland Band concert and a warning he received from Bob Jani about some out of place jewelry he was wearing

30:17 Sonny discusses the authentic talent for the World Showcase at Epcot; Had to go twice a year to each country; Was working at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World and the moved back to Florida full-time; Sonny wanted authentic talent; Hired authentic singers and dancers from Hawaii for the Walt Disney World show at the Polynesian; Sonny also hired authentic talent for Disneyland; Hired famous jazz musicians to perform on the Mark Twain Riverboat; Stan Freese continues talking about some of the musicians Sonny hired such as Teddy Buchner and Jewel Hall; Jack McVea and Ernie McLean became two of Disneyland’s Royal Street Bachelors jazz group

Disneyland Band Concert record album that Sonny was first hired for
Disneyland Band Concert record album that Sonny was first hired for
Sonny Anderson with Johnny Schmidt and Kay Bell
Sonny Anderson with Johnny Schmidt and Kay Bell
This ad for Disneyland Date Nites mentions Sonny's group Kay Bell and the Spacemen
This ad for Disneyland Date Nites mentions Sonny’s group Kay Bell and the Spacemen

One thought on “Interview: Sonny Anderson (His career as Disney’s longtime talent booker)”

  1. Hi Sonny, remember us “JANICE” on the Tomorrowland Terrance stage?…. boy did we have a great time.. Standing room only.. Mickey and Minnie had to come in to disburse the crowds.. I will always love and be grateful to you for discovering us and hiring us. We worked there for many many years …About 11 years as a matter of fact… Miss you….. Wish I knew how to reconnect with you. My email is pastorjanicebarnett@gmail.com… My facebook is Janice Barnett-Adams TheQueenofBeachMusic.

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