Lonnie has been entertaining since he was in elementary school, learning tap licks, and intricate rhythms from his father, Kansas City hoofer and all around entertainer Smilin’ Jimmy McFadden. His Dad, danced with the likes of “The Count Basie Orchestra,” “Blanche Calloway’s Harlem Review,” “Jay McShann,” and many more of the top name entertainers and orchestra’s of the 30’s and 40’s.
McFadden began teaching his sons tap dancing at the ages of 3 and 4. In addition, he made sure both Lonnie and Ronald took piano lessons at the Conservatory of music to learn music as he taught them lots of comedy bits, tap routines and songs to sing. At ages 6 and 7 Lonnie and Ronald gave their first recital, an hour long show that consisted of the two McFadden Brothers singing, tap dancing, doing comedy bits and playing piano and organ.
As a teenager, Lonnie traveled with one of the regional R&B and Top 40 bands playing trumpet and singing before starting his own band, “Lonnie and The Band” that included Ronald on the alto sax. It was during this time that Lonnie became a song writer and arranger. After Lonnie and The Band had run its course, The McFadden Brothers were born.
By the 1980s the McFadden Brothers paralleled their father’s career by performing with “The Count Basie Orchestra”. They played major jazz festivals in Europe and Japan, appearing on the same bill with such jazz greats as Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Lonnie and his brother have made many local and national television appearances including “Incredible Sunday’s” the result of a recommendation from Ben Vareen. The McFadden Brothers have also performed with some of the biggest names in show business, like Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Orlando and were the featured act with Wayne Newton for over 2 and a half years.
Lonnie and his family still reside in the Kansas City area where he can be found performing at the major music venues in the area, as well as teaching the art of “Tap Dancing”.
Photo by Paul Versluis