Musician, Band Leader
Liberty Memorial High School
Clyde Bysom, born in 1917, grew up in Lawrence, learned to play the clarinet in fifth grade and joined the Lawrence Boys Band in the late 1920s."I played my first concert in the South Park gazebo in 1929. I was maybe 12," says Bysom, who plays clarinet for the city band but sax in his other groups.
Throughout junior high and high school, Bysom organized bands that played for parties at KU. He joined the university band program in 1936 and, two years later, met Wichitan John Weatherwax, whom he invited to play in his band.
Clyde Bysom was already working for Boeing building B-29 bombers in Wichita when he enlisted in the Air Force in 1944. Bysom was stationed on the island of Tinian in the Northern Marianas at the end of the war. From there, we would wake at 4 a.m. for the 13-hour round trip to make bombing runs over Japan. He spent most of that time alone in a cramped compartment at the back of the plane, wrapped in a flak blanket with his gun. Each 5.5-ton bomb -the plane carried only one per mission could level 18 city blocks, Bysom said. his missions aimed for industrial targets such as supply depots and railroad yards. His crew's B-29, "Some Punkins," named after its round orange bombs, may have flown the final combat mission of the war, targeting the Nagoya Arsenal. Just after they dropped their bomb, they heard over the radio that the war was over. After the war, he worked as machinist at the Sunflower ammunition plant and later for the Reuter Pipe Organ Co.
Over the years, he has played both instruments in jazz bands, swing bands and big bands -- and still does. These days, though, he said he favors the clarinet.
"Clyde just simply likes to play music," said the city band director, Robert Foster. "He plays Dixieland if they need Dixieland, he plays jazz if they want jazz, and if it's a concert band, he'll play that. He's a real professional musician."
Bysom also plays in the Olathe City Band, the Junk Yard Jazz, the New Horizon Band, a clarinet quintet and a saxophone quintet. Most recently he plays with the Clyde Bysom River City Six. Once in a while, he plays with the Kansas City groups.
He received the Outstanding Contributor Award in 2006 from the Kansas Bandmaster Association
In 2006 he received the Phoenix Award for Performing Arts.