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93-year-old pianist continues to perform in Adams County

Herb Sell, 93, is a well-known name in Adams County. He's been playing piano since he was 7 years old and now, in his 90's, he's still soothing audiences.

ADAMS COUNTY, Pa. — He's brushed shoulders with the best of the best. 

Herb Sell, 93, is a well-known name in Adams County. The local musician has been playing piano since he was seven years old. Now in his 90's, he's still soothing audiences. 

But, Sell wasn't a big fan of the instrument at first.

"Didn't care too much for it," he said. 

However, that changed when he first heard his idol, jazz pianist Count Basie, on the radio. Herb was hooked. 

That love of music continued when he enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, performing shows with the music department of special services. Soon, he'd meet a legend. 

In 1951, Sell's boss introduced him to jazz great Duke Ellington. 

"I could tell right away, he was a very nice person," said Sell. "I don't think there will be another Duke Ellington." 

After the Air Force, Herb earned degrees in music, becoming a music teacher and choral director at Westminster High School in Maryland. 

Remarkably, he invited Ellington to direct his high school chorus. The jazz legend showed up to direct several performances. 

"When you were with him, you thought you were right away with the top," Herb told FOX43 News. 

After 70 years of teaching and even longer behind the piano, it's now Sell who's at the top. 

"He's the Duke Ellington of Adam's County, we call him," said Harry Tassou, the owner of Olivia's Restaurant, where Sell frequently plays. 

His performance still has the same smooth groove they did decades ago. A Littletown resident, Sell has been performing at Olivia's Restaurant outside Gettysburg for the last ten years, wowing guests with his charm and skill.  

"'[We asked] Herb, can you play every night?' Fortunately for us, he said, 'You know what, I'll do it.' It's close to home and he enjoys doing it," said Tassou. 

Sell still loves the chance to play in front of a crowd. 

"I really don't need to play and I'm getting a little stiff, but I always enjoyed playing the nice songs," he told FOX43.

Don't be fooled, his fingers still glide over the keys, drumming out the same tones that caught his ear more than 80 years ago. 

To catch Sell in action, he plays at Olivia's Restaurant every Friday night from 5:30 to 9 p.m. 

Download the FOX43 app here.

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