Bob did it all. He not only ranks among the greatest bass players of all time, but also is famous as a composer and arranger. Hagís compositions include such jazz standards as "Whatís New?", "South Rampart Street Parade," "My Inspiration," and the zany "Big Noise from Winnetka." His arrangements helped make the Bob Crosby orchestra a standout of the Big Band Era.
Hag was also an excellent artist. Four of his oil paintings hang in my home.
In the spring of 1968, Ann and I went to New Orleans for a jazz fest. We were having lunch at the Court of Two Sisters when Ann commented that the man and woman at the adjacent table were the handsomest couple she had ever seen. I recognized the man as Bob Haggart and rushed over and introduced myself. He was with his lovely wife, Windy. Her real name was Helen, but she picked up the nickname because she talked a lot. Everyone called her Windy, which she enjoyed. It didnít bother her a bit.
Bob told me that a great band would be playing at Elitch Gardens in Denver that summer. The musicians, called the Ten Greats of Jazz, were Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Cutty Cutshall, Lou McGarity, Peanuts Hucko, Bud Freeman, Ralph Sutton, Clancy Hayes, Haggart, and Morey Feld. I went to Denver and was blown away by unquestionably the best jazz I had ever heard.
Bob and Windy were among our closest friends. Sadly, she died in 1993, and Bob passed away in 1998.
Hag abused alcohol in his younger days. He became and continues to be, even in death, a big help in my daily struggle not to drink. Bob was one of the finest men I have ever known, and my best buddy in the jazz world.