The Assuntos' Real Dukes of Dixieland

America's First Royal Family of Dixieland Jazz
1947-1974


The Dukes of Dixieland official website.

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Bye and Bye...

Here we'll tell the story of how we've overcome

Introduction:

This page is for the purpose of answering the many requests for this Family to explain what (according to the Assunto Family) happened to the Dukes of Dixieland after the death of Frank J. Assunto on Monday, February 25, 1974 the day before Mardi Gras. This information is believed to be true and well documented in the history of the Assunto Family.

"HEARING IS BELIEVING"...

To understand this page you should formalize yourself with a couple of things. First you should read the 'History' section so that you can enjoy and appreciate what Frank (17) and Freddie (19) Assunto, known as the Dukes of Dixieland were able to accomplish during their musical career's. These accomplishments set the foundation for what is their legacy. After that read the news article dated 7/22/00 in the 'News' section. This will help you have a better understanding of why this page serves a purpose...


Actually, the history of the Assunto Family reads like a play. A journey of more than 50 years and still going...




ACT I:

The true musical legacy performed and lived by Frank, Freddie, Betty Owens (the Duchess) and PaPa "Jac" Assunto (see the "History" page)

ACT II:

Here we list the "actors" who participated in the events following Franks death in 1974. (names and details to be listed later)

ACT III:

Here we set the stage for the "actors" to play their parts ...."the Family".... The Family's situation in February 1974 really started in April 1966 with the death of Freddie Assunto at the age of 36. Not only did the death of Freddie leave Betty "the Duchess" a widow, it also left her to raise 3 children from the ages of 18 months to 10 years old. Freddie's death also left Frank (33) the task of maintaining the Band and business that he and Freddie started as teenagers in 1949. Add to that Frank was dealing with his wife Joan and her recovering from the first of many brain tumor surgeries. All the while raising 4 children of his own ages 6-10 years. Then some 8 weeks after Fred's death PaPa 'Jac' quit the Dukes due to his sadness over Freddie's death.


Thus for close to 8 years Frank found a way to maintain the band while helping Betty and her children along with Joan and her recovering from some 3 or more brain tumor surgeries in a span of 5 years. These brain surgeries left Joan an invalid and confined to a wheelchair and unable to feed herself. The early morning phone call on Monday, February 25, 1974 was a devastating blow. Frank J. Assunto, founder and leader of The Dukes of Dixieland was dead at the age of 42.


So the stage was set, the widow Joan Assunto an invalid with 4 children and who shortly after Frank's unexpected death underwent her 5th brain tumor surgery. This left her confined to a hospital bed and could only be fed thru a tube in her nose. Until Joan's death in December 1978 she was cared for at home by her 4 young children along with the person most credited with providing Joan more than just medical care, she gave Joan a quiet sense of assurance that her 4 children were going to be OK. This special person was Lena Green. Lena came to our family in 1968, she was to help clean and maintain the Assunto home plus assist Joan due to her condition. As Joan's condition got worse Lena soon became a skilled caregiver/nurse not to mention a second mother to us children.


Now that the stage has been set, enter...(to be continued)


ACT IV:

Legal action was taken on behalf of the Estate of Frank Assunto for various reasons including to stop the unauthorized use of the Assunto Brothers' musical legacy and accomplishments and that of their Dukes of Dixieland. Additionally, the lawsuit sought to prevent the unauthorized release of pre-1974 recordings, collecting royalties and/or having those royalties redirected. After more than 11 years in the court system and having been represented by the best legal team a settlement was reached which addressed favorably the major concerns of the Assunto Family. More information about the case can be found in the public record located in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, Division "E" Case #2000-9440. So now the facts are very straight forward, after Frank Assunto's death in 1974 no one using the Assunto legacy or the name Dukes of Dixieland has ever had any connection to the Assunto Brothers or their original Dukes of Dixieland.

The background sound clip for this page is Mama Jo describing how the band that Frank and Freddie Assunto started back in 1949 came to be known as The Dukes of Dixieland.