John Leite Oral History Interview #2

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John Leite Oral History Interview #2


Oral History Interview with John J. Leite, February 20, 2016

Biographical Note:
Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1933; parents from Graciosa, Azores, immigrated to the U.S. ca. 1926; both parents worked in textile mills in Manchester and Lowell; father a loom fixer, mother a spinner; they settled permanently in Lowell ca. 1936; members of St. Anthony Catholic Church, they had three daughters and one son, John J. who was educated in Lowell’s public schools; his father was a trombonist who played in and managed Lowell’s Portuguese Colonial Band; Mr. Leite joined the band as boy, playing the trumpet and later the trombone; after serving in the U.S. Army in post-war Europe, he returned home and matriculated at Lowell State Teachers’ College; after graduating from the college he taught in the area’s public schools, performed as a professional trombonist in well-known local bands, and formed his own band; beginning in the 1970s Mr. Leite became secretary/treasurer of the Lowell local of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), AFL-CIO, and after its merger with other locals in 1995, he was elected president of AFM Local 300.

Scope and Contents:
Interview conducted by local historian Mehmed Ali covers John Leite’s family background, growing up in Lowell’s Portuguese neighborhood “Back Central” in the 1930s and 1940s, activities at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Portuguese music and musicians in Lowell, and Lowell’s changing musical culture. There is a great deal of material on the personalities and musical playing styles of a number of prominent Portuguese musicians in Lowell from the 1950s into the 1990s. [For more on John J. Leite and his role in the American Federation of Musicians, Local 300, see “Oral History with John Leite, 1999,” interview by Gray Fitzsimons, Historian, Lowell National Historical Park]



UMass Lowell, Center for Lowell History




Leite, John


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Ali, Mehmed, “John Leite Oral History Interview #2,” Portuguese American Digital Archives, accessed December 6, 2021,

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