Flugelhorn player, trombonist and trumpeter, born Charles B. Findley in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, who grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and first picked up the trumpet at age four. By the time he was twelve years old, he was playing both trumpet and trombone.
He attended the Cleveland Institute of Music on a scholarship and soon thereafter went on tour with the Jimmy Dorsey Big Band. A stint with the Buddy Rich Band led to a worldwide tour, including Asia, Europe, and the U.S.
In 1969, he settled down in L.A. and soon found himself in demand as a session musician, sometimes working alongside his brother the session trumpeter Bob Findley. A couple of his early, instantly recognizable trumpet solos were on B.J. Thomas’s “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and The Carpenters’ “Close to You”. Early recordings include The Partridge Family’s Bulletin Board and Lydia Pense’s Cold Blood.
Things really took off for him in 1975, with appearances on George Harrison’s Extra Texture (Read All About It), Tom Scott’s New York Connection, and Feeling Free by The Singers Unlimited. In 1976, he re-united with The Singers Unlimited on A Special Blend, and helped add to the blend on Ned Doheny’s Hard Candy, Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees, and The Royal Scam by Steely Dan. The following year, he joined Steely Dan on Aja, and played flugelhorn and trumpet on Sonny Criss’s Warm & Sonny and Loving is Why by Sons of Champlin. In 1978, he made the cut on Carole King: Her Greatest Hits.
The turn of the decade saw him hooking up with Ned Doheny on Prone, Elton John on 21 at 33, and Barry Manilow on his self-titled album, Barry. In 1981, he re-joined The Singers Unlimited on Easy to Love and played trumpet on Quincy Jones’ The Dude: The Dude featured Chuck on a pair of James Ingram hits, “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways”. He helped form the Hoops McCann Band in 1982 and one of their specialties was, appropriately, doing covers of Steely Dan songs. In 1983, Chuck teamed up with Bobby Shew on Trumpets No End. He also took part in a joint effort, The Knee Plays, with David Byrne, and created Precious Moments with Jermaine Jackson. In 1989, he became a member of The Tonight Show band.
He was one of the only musicians, if not the only one, to be kept on when Johnny Carson handed off the reins to Jay Leno in 1994. In the interim, he found time to join the brass section on Madonna’s 1990 album, Like a Prayer, and Miles Davis and Michel Legrand on the soundtrack of the 1991 film, Dingo. In 1992, he appeared on The Manhattan Transfer’sAnthology: Down in Birdland, Joni Mitchell’s CD release of Court and Spark, and found time to participate in the spring jazz lecture series at the University of North Texas. While playing on the new version of The Tonight Show, he re-united with Doc Severinsen on 1995’s Doc and the Dawgs and 1999’s Swingin’ the Blues. In between he appeared on a pair of Al Jarreau CDs, High Crime and Jarreau.
The turn of the millennium found him on another Joni Mitchell CD, Hejira, and Michael Davis’s Brass Nation. In 2004, he collaborated with Michael again on the self-explanatory Trumpets Eleven, performed at the Democratic National Convention, held in Boston, Massachusetts, and went on a European tour with James Last. He has also been active with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, which boasts his name on an award for best lead-trumpet performance, as a performer and clinician. Latter-day CD releases include Sergio Mendes’s Magic Lady, Emil Richards’ and the Joe Porcoro Allstar Big Band’s Odd Men In, and Robin Thicke’s Something Else.
Other artists and groups he has worked with include George Benson, Joe Cocker, PaulinhoDaCosta, Neil Diamond , The Emotions, Julio Iglesias, Rickie Lee Jones, Megadeth, Randy Newman, Robert Palmer, Diana Ross , Rod Stewart, Toto, Sarah Vaughan, and Dionne Warwick. In April 2008, he performed at the Chandler Jazz Festival with the Jack Radavich Trio. He has also played in the pit band at the Oscars and has been involved at various times with the Alf Clausen Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
Here he is performing a solo on “Nature Boy” with the James Last Orchestra….