Considered one of the outstanding saxophonists of the big band era, Dick Stabile had his own signature line of musical instruments and was once featured in ''Ripley's Believe It or Not'' for being the ''only'' sax player to hit the highest note possible on that instrument.
Stabile began his career in the mid-1920s working in Broadway theater bands. In 1928 he landed a spot in Ben Bernie's orchestra, where he earned a reputation as one of the most respected saxophonists in the business. Deciding to cash in on his popularity he struck out on his own in early 1935, recording on the Panachord label with a studio group called Dick Stabile and His Saxophones. In early 1936 he recorded for Decca with another studio group that featured Bunny Berigan. He then formed his own orchestra in late 1936. Vocalists included Burt Shaw, future Modernaire Paula Kelly, and Gracie Barrie, a.k.a. Mrs. Stabile. The band recorded for Bluebird, Decca, ARC and Vocalion/Okeh.
Though Stabile's musical technique was admired by his peers it often frustrated his listeners, and his orchestra never achieved the level of popularity of a Tommy Dorsey or a Benny Goodman. The group nonetheless did find an attractive sound, once Stabile gave up trying to overblow his sax and instead focused on shading and coloring. The band finally came into its own at the 1939-1940 World's Fair, which led to work in prominent New York hotels.
Stabile fell victim to the draft in 1942 and entered the Coast Guard, where he led a dance band. Barrie continued to lead the orchestra in his absence. After his discharge he settled in Los Angeles, where in 1949 he was hired by Ciro's and began a working relationship with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis that would continue until his death. He backed the duo on recordings, radio, television, and in the movies. After the comedy team broke up, he continued to serve as musical director for both, leading orchestras on Martin's television programs and on Lewis' telethons.
Stabile also worked with Jimmy Dorsey and Vincent Lopez during the post-war years. In the late 1960s he led orchestras at the Ambassador and Glendora ballrooms in Los Angeles. From the mid-1970s until his death from a heart attack in 1980 his orchestra resided at the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans.