I met Rafael Méndez  - R. Dale Olson


(The Méndez - Olds Trumpet)

I joined F.E. Olds and Son, Inc. in early January, 1961 as Director of Research.  I had completed a Masters degree in trumpet performance at University of North Texas and private study with Renold Schilke prior to my position with Olds.

Upon joining Olds (at the age of 25) I became very close to a number of well known "Hollywood", or Los Angeles, studio players whom I had long admired from a distance.  Rafael (or "Ralph" as we called him) was among that group.  Also were Uan Rasey, Bud Brisbois, Manny Klein, etc.

The Mendez model trumpet had long been in production prior to my arrival at Olds.  In the early 1960s Zig Kanstul and I worked together on the design of a lightweight trumpet called the "Custom".  This horn was produced with a variety of different leadpipes and bells.

Ralph and I played duets at his home in Encino, California and, on one occasion, we switched trumpets.  It was imperative that Ralph actually play the Mendez model due to the rampant rumors that he really played a Besson (which was not accurate). 

For an upcoming concert tour, Ralph asked if he could play my horn.  Although I was happy to lend him the trumpet, the management at CMI (Chicago Musical Instrument Co., the parent company of Olds), felt otherwise.  So, Ralph left for the tour using his own Mendez trumpet.

A day or so into the tour, I received a call from him that he had damaged his Mendez and was sending it to the factory for repair.  While there, he again asked if he could use my trumpet.  I quickly sent it to him and he used it the remainder of the tour, much to the consternation of CMI.

Upon his return, he gave me my trumpet and, as a thank-you gift, a French Besson the Besson factory had given to him years before.  I still have that Besson in my collection.

I also have a "reel-to-reel" tape recording with Ralph, a trumpet player named Al Vezina, and me playing the Albert Mancini trios.  The recording was made in Ralph's living room, is of poor quality, and the playing reflects just what it was....three guys playing trios in an informal setting.

Although I have a copy of Prelude to Brass Playing given to me by Mendez, I never asked Ralph to sign it.  The only photograph I have of the two of us together is one of the backs of our heads, apparently looking into a store front of a music store.

Ralph and I shared many late night cocktails together.  He was the most dilligent "practicer" I have ever met, often playing virtually all day without even stopping to eat.  He was a gentleman, an absolutely marvelous trumpet player, and a credit to our world.

Thanks for your interest in Ralph.

R. Dale Olson