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Leonard Feather Collection


Leonard Geoffrey Feather (1914- 1994) was raised as part of an upper middle class Jewish family in Hampstead, England. His father ran a chain of clothing stores and later in life became involved in real estate. However, Leonard had no interest in the family businesses, and instead developed an early appreciation for music. He did not attend college, principally because of the economic climate following the Depression. Instead his parents arranged for him to take an extended trip to France and Germany. There he learned everything he could about jazz and began his long career as a journalist.1

Leonard, Jane and Lorraine Feather

Leonard, Jane and Lorraine Feather

Feather soon realized that the jazz community in Europe was minuscule compared to what the United States had to offer. Yearning to be at the creative heart of jazz, he made his first trip to the U.S. in 1935, followed by several additional visits during which he immersed himself in the musical scene. He became instant acquaintances with Fats Waller, Benny Carter, and Mezz Mezzrow.2 These connections helped him establish a rooted position for observing the development of jazz. He permanently moved to New York City shortly after the inception of World War 2.

While visiting a friend in California in 1945, he was introduced to Jane Leslie Larrabee. He was instantly smitten by her and proposed the next day. They were married a few weeks later and remained together for life.3 Leonard and Jane had one child, Billie Jane Lee Lorraine Feather, named in part after her godmother, Billie Holiday. The Feathers moved to Los Angeles in 1960, and Lorraine Feather went on to become a respected singer, composer, and lyricist in her own right.


  • 1. Feather, Leonard G. The Jazz Years: Earwitness to an Era. New York: Da Capo Press, 1987. (pp 5-13)
  • 2. Ibid, (pp 18, 27-31, 32)
  • 3. Ibid

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