Adriel Bettelheim sent me this recent Denver Post obituary for former Colorado Symphony bassist David Potter. David was a well-loved bassist and teacher with former students in all corners of the country. Boston Symphony bassist Benjamin Levy is quoted in the following obituary from the Denver Post.
David Potter’s dad had to drive him to his first job: playing guitar in a square-dance band in Boston when he was a seventh-grader.
Potter, who died of cancer May 22, predictably became a musician, but he didn’t play much Western music.
Potter, who was 75, was a 30-year bassist with what is now the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Along the way he played with The Goofers, sometimes entering the stage hanging from a wire by ankle straps – one of the many stunts the band offered.
But Potter left a lasting impression with his teaching. Former students said he was “incredible.”
“He knew how to get the most out of students because of his dedication and intensity,” said Ben Levy, now a bassist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. “He had so much emotional intensity and commitment.”
“I think he enjoyed teaching almost more than playing,” said Greg Barned of Golden, a bassist in the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra. “You could see the fire in his eyes. He knew how to get you to play the sound you needed to be playing.”
Levy, who took lessons for eight years, once gave up a family trip to Hawaii to keep his lessons going.
As a teenager, Ron Bland, a freelance bassist in Denver, made the trip to Denver from Pueblo for years to take lessons from Potter.
“He never let you get away with anything and always knew if you hadn’t practiced,” said Bland, who is vice president of the Denver Musicians Association.
He and other teenagers were driven to Denver by their parents for day-long Saturday sessions with Potter – each taking a lesson and all listening to one another’s lessons.
Potter also taught at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the University of Colorado at Denver and Metropolitan State College, played in the Jackson Hole Fine Arts Festival Orchestra in Wyoming and for private parties.
David Potter was born in Malden, Mass., on Jan. 7, 1932, and earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Boston University.
He played with road bands including those backing up Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis and Paul Anka.
He got a look at Denver when the band he was with played at Elitch Gardens’ famed Trocadero Ballroom.
He married Margaret Hummel on June 22, 1963.
While he was in the Army he studied music at Trappsches Konservatorium in Munich, Germany, and later played with the North Carolina Symphony, the Kansas City (Mo.) Philharmonic and the Indianapolis Symphony.
When he came to Denver in 1966 to play with what was then the Denver Symphony, a skycap at Stapleton Airport offered to carry the family’s luggage.
“We told him we didn’t have the money for the tip,” Margaret Potter recalled.
The skycap said he wanted to carry the bags anyway. It turned out the man was Charlie Burrell, now retired from the Colorado Symphony. Burrell wanted to be the first one to welcome the new bassist when he flew into Denver.
Staff writer Virginia Culver can be reached at 303-954-1223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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