Max Leib, a musician, conductor and longtime music contractor for touring musicals that played Nederlander theatres in Detroit, died May 25 in a Royal Oak, MI, hospital, according to The Detroit News.
Mr. Leib, who had health problems over the years, was 89 and in his 75 year career had played violin with big bands, symphonies, in dark vaudeville pits, and for radio and hotel orchestras. Since the 1950s, he booked musicians for the pits of Detroit's Nederlander-run Shubert Theatre (now gone), Fisher Theatre, Masonic Temple Theatre and the now defunct Birmingham Theatre, a stock house.
He worked up until two months ago, when he booked local musicians for the tour of The Sound of Music at the Masonic, according to general manger Alan Lichtenstein, who said Mr. Leib had a thousand stories from a long career. He told Playbill On-Line he thought Mr. Leib might have been older than the reported age of 89.
Mr. Leib was born in Minneapolis to parents who had fled imperial Russia, The Detroit News reported.
"He was very sweet, avuncular, kind and gentle but a real professional musician," Shirl Harris, of the Fisher Theatre, told Playbill On-Line. "He didn't stand for any nonsense and was very protective of his musicians." Mr. Leib played with bands in hotels and clubs in Detroit and played many of the grand movie houses and theatres that still stand Motown. He first became the contractor for the Nederlanders in the 1950s, working for D.T. Nederlander (father of James, Joe, Harry, Fred, Robert and Frances) at the Shubert Theatre in Detroit. He was known by many generations of Broadway conductors and his musicians played many pre Broadway shows in Detroit.
Mr. Leib is survived by his wife, Annette, daughter Bobbie Winograd, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service is expected, perhaps at the Fisher Theatre.
-- By Kenneth Jones