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INTERVIEWS BY SHIRLEY BONKOSKI AND BETTY ANN FEDER OF DEARBORN, MICHIGANThe Big Band Era. Swing. World War II. The optimism of post-war America. This was the culture and times in which Vaughn Monroe lived and worked at the height of his career, and which his contributions had a hand in shaping.For those of us too young to remember, Vaughn Monroe was one of the popular male vocalists to come out of the big band phenomenon. He had a rich baritone voice that he used masterfully. He played trumpet and trombone with the same virtuosity. His 6-foot frame and likable personality put him out in front of the orchestra and behind the baton.Many a young couple fell in love to Monroe's crooning of some sentimental melody. The list of his hit songs is as long as the memories that his music invokes for those of us who were there.
A biography on Vaughn Monroe has not been written to date. However, numerous short pieces have been written for his souvenir booklets, which circulated in the 1940s and 1950s. More recent books written about the big bands usually include at least a paragraph, if not a page or two on Vaughn Monroe, and CD liner notes typically contain biographical information of varying length.This page includes some of the biographical sketches that frequently appear on other websites. We have amalgamated them here along with one of the 'stories' of Vaughn's life from his 1945 souvenir booklet.
Perhaps the best biographical profile on the web (in our opinion) is written by Chicago librarian, Christopher Popa, and can be found on his Big Band Library website.
The King Sisters were an American big band-era vocal group consisting of six sisters: Alyce, Donna, Luise, Marilyn, Maxine, and Yvonne King.Contents1 History2 Deaths3 Hit singles4 References5 External linksHistoryBorn and raised in Pleasant Grove, Utah, the King Sisters were part of the Driggs Family of Entertainers. Their father was William King Driggs.[1]
Their first professional job was with a Salt Lake City radio station, from which they graduated to a station in Oakland, California. In the early 1930s sisters Luise, Maxine, and Alyce formed a vocal trio along the lines of their idols, the Boswell Sisters, and traveled to San Francisco to audition for radio station KGO (to replace the Boswell Sisters themselves, who were leaving the station)." After this, Maxine retired to home life in Oakland and sisters Donna and Yvonne were added to the roster.[2]
In 1935, the King Sisters accepted a job with bandleader Horace Heidt. Gradually, relations between the King Sisters and Heidt deteriorated to the point where they left the band.[why?] In the following years, they separately and together sang with the bands of Artie Shaw's Old Gold program and Charlie Barnet and Al Pearce series. They turned down a request to be the vocal group for the Glenn Miller Orchestra. They recorded for Bluebird Records, a sub-label of RCA Victor and the same label as Miller, and also had their first hit with a vocal version of Miller's hit, "In the Mood".[citation needed]
In 1937, Luise married guitarist Alvino Rey. At the peak of the sisters' success, they appeared in a number of 1940's Hollywood films. During World War II, they appeared regularly on Kay Kyser's radio series. In 1965, they began hosting their own ABC TV series, The King Family Show, which featured family members including Alyce's husband, actor Robert Clarke, and her sons, Ric and Lex de Azevedo, and Cam Clarke, as well as other talent. The show ran from 1965–1966, with a 1969 revival.[3]
A second generation of the King Family, the Four King Cousins, continues to carry on the musical tradition. More prominently, Luise's grandsons Win and William Butler are also musicians as part of the rock band Arcade Fire.
DeathsAlyce King Clarke died on August 23, 1996, from respiratory problems, aged 81. Luise King Rey died on August 4, 1997, aged 83, from cancer, in the year of her 60th wedding anniversary to Alvino Rey. Donna King Conkling died on June 16, 2007, aged 88, in Plano, Texas. Maxine King Thomas died on May 13, 2009, aged 97 in Corona, California.[4]Yvonne "Vonnie" King Burch died on December 13, 2009, aged 89, after suffering a fall at her home in Santa Barbara, California. Marilyn King died on August 7, 2013, aged 82, from cancer, also in California; she was the last surviving sister.[5]
Hit singlesYear Single Chart positionsUS[6] US Country[7]1937 "Hot Lips" 5 —"Oh Marie-Oh, Marie" 12 —"It's the Natural Thing to Do" 5 —"Little Heaven of the Seven Seas" 3 —1941 "Tiger Rag" 23 —"Nighty Night" 13 —"The Hut-Sut Song (A Swedish Serenade)" 7 —"Bless 'Em All" 25 —1942 "I Said No!" 2 —"Rose O'Day" 18 —"Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry" 21 —"Idaho" 3 —"My Devotion" 11 —"When It's Moonlight on the Blue Pacific" 22 —"Strip Polka" 6 —1943 "Gobs of Love" 20 —"The Army Air Corps" 19 —1944 "I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)" 12 —"It's Love-Love-Love" 4 —"Mairzy Doats" 21 —"Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet" 13 —"The Trolley Song" 13 —1945 "Candy" 15 —"Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week)" 15 —1946 "Divorce Me C.O.D."(featuring Buddy Cole's orchestra) — 5Originally christened "America's First Family of Song" in the 1960's, The King Family, comprised of "big band era" greats The King Sisters, guitar virtuoso Alvino Rey and the 32 sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles and children that made up their extended musical family, catapulted to fame following just two dazzling appearances on ABC-TV's The Hollywood Palace to become one of the most popular and beloved television, recording and concert acts of the 1960's and 70's.
Acclaim from audiences and critics alike for their 'Palace' appearances led to their first headlining television special, The Family is King, in 1964. That special's ratings-topping popularity landed the musical group its own weekly ABC-TV showcase, The King Family Show, during 1965 and 1966. An audience favorite, the series featured the entire musical family in various groupings --The King Sisters - who'd already established themselves as one of the nation's top vocal groups, and the next generation's contingent The King Cousins, featuring Tina Cole who went on to star as "Katie Douglas" on CBS' My Three Sons, along with the irrepressible King Kiddies whose musical talent and effortless comedic timing were a staple of these tune-filled hours.
For the next decade the The King Family dominated the media landscape producing and starring in seventeen of their own holiday specials including Christmas with the King Family, Easter with the King Family, The King Family in Atlanta and Mother's Day with the King Family, a second ABC-TV variety series in 1969, a cavalcade of "special guest" appearances on the nation's top variety series and special event programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Grammy Awards and The Emmy Awards, a series of popular albums for Warner Bros. Records, including their best-selling Christmas with The King Family, headlining appearances at the nation's top concert venues including several sold-out appearances at The Hollywood Bowl, nightclub engagements in Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe, fabled appearances at Disneyland and a "King Family Day" at the Worlds Fair.
It all started with the patriarch of the King Family, William King Driggs Sr. in Pleasant Grove, Utah. He was a music teacher, and when his family began to grow, and his teacher's salary didn't, he formed a family orchestra with his wife Pearl and eight children (Karleton, Maxine, Luise, Alyce, Donna, Yvonne, Bill and Marilyn) and moved his troupe to California.
On weekends, and in the summer, "The Driggs Family of Entertainers" as they were then known played in theatres, clubs, schools and churches all over the West.
The oldest daughters adopted their fathers middle name and formed their own vocal group, The King Sisters, while still in junior high school. Beginning as a trio consisting of sisters Maxine, Luise and Alyce; the group started out on radio on station KLX in Oakland, California and later on KSL Radio in Salt Lake City. They were soon signed for two-weeks at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco that lasted for five years. The group then became a quartet when Maxine married and retired and sisters Donna and Yvonne joined the group. Later Donna retired and was replaced by baby sister Marilyn. At one time or another every one of the six Driggs daughters sang as a member of The King Sisters.
First recording and performing with the Horace Heidt Orchestra across the country including Chicago's Drake Hotel and New York's Biltmore Hotel, The King Sisters later toured with legendary trumpeter Artie Shaw before joining guitarist and fellow Heidt -alum Alvino Rey (married to King Sister Luise) and his orchestra. Together they became one of the leading attractions of the day on records, radio and the concert stage.
Now billed as The Four King Sisters, the quartet, featuring Luise, Alyce, Donna and Yvonne, recorded hit after hit for RCA Records including "Mairzy Doates," 'Nighty Night", "Miss Otis Regrets", "San Fernando Valley", "Jersey Bounce" and the "Hut-Sut Song." As the sisters developed their signature vocal style, becoming the first female vocal group to perform jazz-based four part harmonies, thirteen of their recordings made the top 30 between 1941 and 1945.
Hollywood beckoned and the sisters began to appear in films including Cuban Pete with Desi Arnaz, Meet the People with Lucille Ball and MGM's Thrill of Romance with Van Johnson and Esther Williams -- but a whole new era of success and creative achievement lie ahead as a new decade dawned for the talented vocal group.
In 1953 NBC offered the Sisters and Alvino Rey their own television series in Hollywood. The Alvino Rey - King Sisters Show became a popular Los Angeles favorite and brought the Sisters to the attention of Capital Records. By this time Donna had retired and Marilyn had become a permanent member of The King Sisters.
Signed to Capitol Records in 1957, The King Sisters debuted a brand new sophisticated sound, lowering the keys of their songs, featuring more unisons and developing a far more jazz oriented feel to their performances of always first rate material.
Great public and critical success followed each new King Sisters record including a Grammy nomination for their groundbreaking Imagination album. Their recording success led to a busy schedule of concert dates in the nation's top clubs and showrooms as well as appearances on television showcases including The Steve Allen Show, The George Gobel Show and The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.
Along with the resurgence and growth of their popularity, the sisters' families were growing as well. Having their children join them on stage for a song at a performance was a frequent show-stopping facet of several King Sisters engagements. The seeds that would lead to the "birth" of the singing and performing King Family were beginning to flourish as the 1960's dawned.
King Sister Yvonne was asked to put together a benefit show for her church and she had the idea to ask her entire family to join her on stage. The King children, who had virtually grown up around show business, were developing unique and engaging talents of their own. The first official King Family performance was a smashing success and soon each sister's church asked for a similar benefit show.
One such engagement, a performance for Brigham Young University, was taped by the school's student video department. An edited version of that performance was eventually "pitched" by Yvonne to ABC television as a possible series and The King Family was born.
Following two appearances on The Hollywood Palace, The King Family headlined their own first special. Public response to that initial TV outing was ecstatic with the network receiving over 53,000 letters of fan support for the newly crowned TV sensations. The special's success spawned two separate King Family variety series and seventeen King Family specials throughout the 1960's and 70's.
Each King Family Show featured contributions from the Sisters themselves, Alvino Rey and his own invention the "talking steel guitar" which he had popularized in a series of hit recordings including "Mama's Blues" and actor Robert Clarke who had starred in and produced a series of now classic sci-fi epics. Married to Alyce King, Clarke served as the shows announcer and delivered dramatic readings based on each programs theme. The King Cousins provided the younger sound singing the top hits of the day. A spinoff group, consisting of sisters Tina and Cathy Cole and cousins Candy Conkling and Carolyn Thomas billed as The Four King Cousins, also found popular success and recorded a highly regarded Capitol Records release Introducing...The Four King Cousins. Rounding out the stellar lineup were the King Kiddies, former Stan Kenton trombonist Kent Larsen and the remaining members of their extended family who completed the talented mix that kept them at the top of the showbiz ranks for two decades.
The King Family continued to appear together in concert and on television throughout the 1970's and The King Sisters continued into the 1980's. They were one the featured entertainers at Ronald Reagan's second Presidential Inauguration Gala in 1985. Most recently The Family performed together in 1996 for Utah state's sesquicentennial celebration. In 2004, their unique place among the pantheon of entertainers associated with the holidays, including Andy Williams and Judy Garland, was celebrated as part of the BRAVO Television Network's documentary The Christmas Special Christmas Special.
Several family members remain actively involved in show business with Marilyn King carrying on the King Sisters tradition as a popular concert performer. Her daughter Jen Staves is a performer, songwriter and recording artist in Los Angeles. Tina Cole is an acclaimed actress and director and recently spent 5 years as the resident director of the Sacramento Children's Theatre. Original King Kiddie Cam Clarke is a celebrated voice actor providing voices for numerous animated series (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Cow & Chicken, The Lion King), films (Underdog, The Lion King: Return to Pride Rock, The Little Mermaid II) and video games (Metal Gear Solid, EverQuest II, Painkiller). Cam's older brother, King Cousin Ric de Azevedo, performs across the country with Jim and Gary Pike in the trio group Reunion (formerly The Letterman) and his other brother, two-time Golden Globe nominee Lex de Azevedo, is producer/composer of the Public Television series Signing Time created by his daughters Emilie and Rachel; Lex's other daughter Julie de Azevedo is an accomplished songwriter and recording artist. King Cousin Liza Rey Butler is a songwriter, arranger and harpist in Maine and plays concert harp on albums by Arcade Fire, the critically acclaimed rock band headed by her sons, Win and Will. Jamie Green, daughter of King Cousin Cathy (Cole) Green, is an award-winning independent recording artist and songwriter.
The family is currently in production on a new television special (their first in three decades) for Public Television, the first ever CD releases of their albums and a planned return to the concert stage.
Originally christened "America's First Family of Song" in the 1960's, The King Family, comprised of "big band era" greats The King Sisters, guitar virtuoso Alvino Rey and the 32 sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles and children that made up their extended musical family, catapulted to fame following just two dazzling appearances on ABC-TV's The Hollywood Palace to become one of the most popular and beloved television, recording and concert acts of the 1960's and 70's.
Ward Lamar Swingle (September 21, 1927 – January 19, 2015) was an American vocalist and jazz musician who founded The Swingle Singers in France in 1962.Contents1 Life and career2 See also3 References4 External linksLife and careerBorn in Mobile, Alabama, Swingle studied music, particularly jazz, from a very young age. He learned clarinet, oboe and the piano as a child. He played in Mobile-area big bands before finishing high school. Swingle continued his music studies at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, from which he graduated summa cum laude in 1950.[1] He also met a French-born violin student, Françoise Demorest, and the couple married in 1952.[2]
Swingle then moved to France in 1951 on a Fulbright scholarship, where he studied piano with Walter Gieseking and also worked as a rehearsal pianist for Les Ballets de Paris.[2] In 1959, he was a founding member of Les Double Six of Paris, which specialised in scat singing of jazz standards.[1] Swingle subsequently applied the scat singing idea to the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.[3] This concept was the foundation for The Swingle Singers, which became fully established by 1962. The Swingle Singers released their albums Jazz Sebastian Bach and Bach's Greatest Hits in 1963. Their early recordings won five Grammy Awards.[2]
Swingle disbanded the original Swingle Singers in 1973. He moved to London and formed an English group, which variously had the names Swingle II and the New Swingle Singers. With the new group, he expanded the earlier group's repertoire to include classical and avant-garde works along with the scat and jazz vocal arrangements.[1]
In 1984, Swingle returned to live in America. Though he remained musical advisor for his London-based group, he devoted most of his time to workshops, guest conducting and the dissemination of his printed arrangements through his publishing company, Swingle Music. His pioneering ideas in new choral techniques produced invitations to conduct the Stockholm and Netherlands Chamber Choirs, the Dale Warland Singers, the Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir, the BBC Northern Singers and the MENC National Honors Choir at Kennedy Center. In the 2000s he gave a long series of workshops and seminars at universities in both Europe and North America.
In March 1994, Swingle and his wife moved back to France, where he continued his work in arranging, composing and guest conducting. In 1997 he wrote an autobiography and treatise entitled Swingle Singing, in which he defined 'Swingle Singing' techniques with illustrations from his arrangements and compositions.
On February 20, 2004, Swingle was named "Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Minister of Culture and Information.
Swingle died in Eastbourne, England, on 19 January 2015. His widow, their three children, and three grandchildren survived him.[1] Françoise Swingle died in 2017.

Ward Swingle was the product of an unusually liberal musical education. In his hometown, Mobile, Alabama, he grew up with the sound of jazz and played in one of the great Big Bands, the Ted Fiorito Orchestra, before finishing High School. Here is a recording of Ward signing Danny Boy in 1945:

He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory and studied piano with the celebrated Walter Gieseking in postwar France. In Paris in the sixties he was a founding member of the fabled Double Six of Paris, then took the scat singing idea and applied it to the works of Bach, hence The Swingle Singers, whose early recordings won five Grammies.

J. S. Bach - Fugue for organ in G Minor

When the Paris group disbanded in l973, Ward Swingle moved to London and formed an English group, expanding the repertoire to include classical and avant-garde works along with the scat and jazz vocal arrangements. For information on the Swingles' touring schedule go to

Click here to read more on the history of the Swingle Singers, courtesy of Jazz History Online.

The first English group poses for a photo used for the UK release "Madrigals". Back, L-R: David Beavan, Linda Hirst, John Lubbock, John Potter, Ward Swingle. Front, Carol Hall, Olive Simpson (seated), Mary Beverly.

The first English group poses for a photo used for the UK release "Madrigals". Back, L-R: David Beavan, Linda Hirst, John Lubbock, John Potter, Ward Swingle. Front, Carol Hall, Olive Simpson (seated), Mary Beverly.

In l984 Ward Swingle and his wife Françoise returned to live in America. Though he remained as Musical Advisor for his London-based group, he devoted most of his time to workshops, guest conducting and the dissemination of his printed arrangements through his publishing company, Swingle Music. A comprehensive list of his published arrangements can be found here. To purchase arrangements please go to UNC Jazz Press.

His pioneering ideas in new choral techniques produced invitations to conduct The Stockholm and Netherlands Chamber Choirs, The Dale Warland Singers, The Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir, the BBC Northern Singers and the MENC National Honors Choir at Kennedy Center. During the 90's and early 2000's he gave a long series of workshops and seminars at outstanding universities in both Europe and North America.

In March of l994 Ward and Françoise moved back to France, where he continued his work in arranging, composing and guest conducting. He also wrote a book called "Swingle Singing" in which he tells the story of the French and English groups, his own story, and defines 'Swingle Singing' techniques with illustrations from his arrangements and compositions.

On February 20th, 2004, he was named "Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Minister of Culture and Information.

On January 19, 2015, Ward Swingle passed away peacefully in his sleep. He is survived by his loving wife, and their three daughters Kathryn, Elizabeth and Rebecca.

Vaughn Monroe. Despite an early talent for the trumpet, Vaughn Monroe's desire to become an opera singer eventually landed him almost ten number one hits during the '40s as well as a host of nicknames for his rich baritone, including "The Voice with Hairs on Its Chest" and "Old Leather Tonsils." Born in Akron, OH, Monroe moved to Wisconsin while still a child and focused on his trumpet talent for most of his boyhood. Another early ambition, to be an opera singer, resulted in his signing on as a vocalist with territory bands led by Austin Wylie, Larry Funk (for whom he made his recording debut) and Jack Marshard. While based in Boston with Marshard, Monroe formed his first orchestra and began recording for Victor's low-priced Bluebird label. One of his first singles, "There I Go," spent three weeks at the top of the Hit Parade in 1940. Though his orchestra was rather tame (even for the time), it was voted top college band that year. His longtime theme song "Racing with the Moon" debuted in 1941, and the following year-and-a-half brought no less than three number one hits: "My Devotion," "When the Lights Go on Again (All Over the World)," and "Let's Get Lost."

Monroe's first few years of recording had been quite successful, but all his biggest hits were yet to come. During 1945, "There! I've Said It Again" and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" both spent more than a month at the top of the charts. And his two biggest hits, "Ballerina" and "Riders in the Sky," came in 1947 and 1949, respectively. The latter, an old Western chestnut, presaged Monroe's attempt at moving into Hollywood's singing-cowboy genre with a couple of early-'50s B-movies including "Singing Guns" and "The Toughest Man in Arizona." He also disbanded his orchestra, and continued to work television and radio (he hosted Camel Caravan for many years). Except for a few mid-'50s novelties (including "They Were Doin' the Mambo" and "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots"), Monroe never again hit the charts. He worked as a spokesman for RCA Victor, and continued to perform into the early '70s.
Source: John Bush, All Music Guide
Vaughn Monroe (October 7, 1911 - May 21, 1973) was a singer, trumpeter and big band leader, most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Monroe was born in Akron, Ohio. He formed a band in Boston in 1940 and became its principal vocalist.
His signature tune was "Racing with the Moon." He also had hits with "Ghost Riders in the Sky," "There I've Said It Again," "Ballerina," "Let It Show, Let It Snow" and "Mule Train." One lost opportunity - he turned down the chance to record "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
He was tall and handsome which helped him as a band leader and singer, as well as in Hollywood, although he did not pursue a movie and television career with vigor. He was sometimes called 'the baritone with muscles.' He was admired by some and derided by others for both his singing and his persona. He had a pleasant baritone voice that wasn't always quite good enough for the songs he sang, according to his critics. He was considered sincere, steady, and down-to-earth by some; pompous and square by others. In spite of these mixed opinions, he had a very successful musical career, with a large number of fans.
Monroe died in Stuart, Florida.
Source: reference.comArtist - Vaughn Monroe Imagine a pop vocalist who looked and sounded like a movie star. Imagine a tour full of musicians and a bevy of teenage Texas beauties singing back up. Imagine hit records rocketing to the top of the charts...
Today this would be a recipe for lawsuits, paternity suits, and drug busts. Back it up 60 years, and you have the rather uneventful, wholesome touring group known as Vaughn Monroe and his orchestra. The young ladies were backing vocalists known as The Moon Maids, who doubled as babysitters for the band members' offspring. They sang about "racing with the moon," but were about as square as a group of musicians could be. And they happened to be just about the hottest big band of the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Monroe was a decent horn player who just happened to be blessed with one of the most memorable singing voices in the history of recorded music. Not one of the best, for he didn't possess the range of a Crosby or a Como, and certainly not the timing or styling of a Sinatra. Yet when that baritone hit the stage, it was magic.
His first hit came relatively early in his career, a song called There I Go recorded with his first orchestra. Thought of as a "college act," Monroe was signed to a minor subsidiary of RCA called Bluebird. Despite the odds, There I Go hit the top of the charts, where it stayed for three weeks.
Like most big bands of the 1940s, a number of well-known artists got their start with Vaughn Monroe. Ray Conniff, guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli, and songstress Georgia Gibbs all performed with the orchestra. Although most of the big bands broke up after the 1947 musician's union strike, Monroe kept on chugging, and went on to record his biggest hit in 1949: Ghost Riders In the Sky. Eventually the same fate befell Monroe's orchestra. With the band still at the height of its popularity, concert attendance began to drop.
Monroe himself attributed the decline to increased expenses, and above all, television. When expenses drove ticket costs to the breaking point in 1952, the violins were dismissed. More attrition followed, and Monroe called the orchestra business quits in 1953. Of the top orchestras from the 1940s, only Guy Lombardo and Count Basie would continue with a sizable show into the 1960s and 1970s.
With the loss of his touring band, the hit records stopped. But Monroe's personal popularity was as strong as ever; he continued to be successful touring as a solo act, using whatever band or orchestra was on the bill. He was also popular as a pitchman, promoting everything from Camel cigarettes and RCA radios to the US Forest Service's Smokey the Bear campaign. Monroe was a spokesman for RCA televisions well into the 1960s. He continued to headline decent sized showrooms and theatres until his passing in 1973.
From 1940 to 1954, Monroe had close to 70 chart records, including many #1 hits. Three of those songs, Let It Snow, Ghost Riders and Ballerina, rank among the all-time top #1 songs, each dominating the Billboard charts for 10 weeks or more.
Considering Monroe's suave good looks, height, and voice that could shake the ground, it is surprising that he didn't achieve even greater fame. Monroe dabbled in cowboy movies in the early 1950s, but he was a city dweller at heart and not quite comfortable with the role. He was put in the role of an outdoorsman for the Smokey the Bear campaign, but was a bit too debonair. Monroe felt at home in front of an orchestra, and although he enjoyed playing the horn, was smart enough to know that his voice made the show go.
Another part of the legend is that Monroe turned down a few songs that might've made him an even bigger star. Although a lot is probably rumor or conjecture, a number of sources have claimed that he was offered first crack at Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer, but turned it down. The song went on to be a massive hit for Gene Autry. If it's true, it probably pleased fair-and-square Vaughn Monroe, whose hit with Ghost Riders usurped an earlier recording by Autry. Monroe also recorded an early version of Mule Train, which was used in one of his westerns, but was slow to promote it as a single. Frankie Laine would go on to have a huge hit with the song.
Even without these, Vaughn Monroe's roster of #1 hits is quite impressive:
There I GoRacing With The MoonWhen the Lights Go On Again (All Over the World)Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!BallerinaThere, I've Said It AgainRed Roses For a Blue LadySomeday (You'll Want Me to Want You)Ghost Riders In The SkySource: popularsong.orgThe Story of Vaughn Monroe1945 Souvenir Booklet. Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York all could claim Vaughn Monroe as their product. And all could support their claims, because the "life and times" of America's top bandleader ahs given him roots in many localities.Vaughn's first home was in Akron, Ohio, where he was born October 7, 1911. At the time, the senior Monroe was working in a rubber processing factory, but soon moved to Cudahy, Wisconsin, and later to Jeanette, Pennsylvania. It was in Jeanette that Vaughn was graduated from high school in 1929. While there he also met Marian Baughman, who is now Mrs. Monroe. At the senior prom, Mrs. Monroe relates, Vaughn, who had been voted the "boy most likely to succeed," was supposed to lead the grand march. Ten minutes late, Vaughn rushed breathlessly into the room and informed Marian that he had just won a trumpet contest in a nearby town. Which, Marian felt, was "succeeding" almost too soon.Vaughn had begun his trumpeting career at eleven. One day, he calmly walked in to his parents, holding a new trumpet in hand. In response to their questioning looks, the future "moonracer" explained, "The kid down the block gave it to me. He can't play it on account of his teeth."The trumpet turned out to be exceedingly useful. All through high school and for two years following his graduation, Vaughn was able to earn and save by working in neighborhood bands. Finally, in 1931, having saved enough for college, he enrolled at Carnegie Tech's School of Music at Pittsburgh, where he also took engineering courses, and later at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston for further vocal training. While attending these schools Vaughn continually wavered between his desire to become an engineer, and the desire to become a concert singer. In 1933, he made his decision--to quit school and devote all his time to dance bands. In college, as in high school, he had earned while he learned by playing trumpet with small bands in his spare time.Two factors helped Vaughn make up his mind: 1) although he liked engineering, he didn't think he could be satisfied at it for his life's work; and 2) despite the fact that his voice teachers told him he had a big future ahead as a baritone, he had a big frame that had to be fed in the immediate present.Vaughn's first job after leaving college was with Austin Wiley's band. It lasted two years, ending when the band broke up in Ohio. At the time orchestra leader Larry Funk was playing a date in the vicinity. He had heard Vaughn on the trumpet, like him and gave him a job.That's when Monroe took his "boot training" on the road, for the band did a group of one-nighters that took them from Ohio to Boston, Colorado, Texas, Kentucky, and back to Boston. "Enough was enough," says Vaughn. "When we got back to Boston it looked like Paradise to me. I thought it would be a good idea to settle down there for a few years."Vaughn got in touch with a friend, Jack Marshard, for advice. Marshard, at that time, fronted a society band, in addition to owning several similar units which operated in the Cope Cod area. Not only did Jack give Vaughn advice, he gave him a job in one of the units. For the next year and a half Monroe played trumpet, did some vocalizing, and was perfectly content. Finally, in 1937, the band moved into the "Terrace Gables" in Falmouth, Mass.Here Marshard asserted himself. All along Jack had felt Vaughn belonged out front, not hidden in with the brass section where his talent was more or less buried. Jack offered Vaughn the choice of either leaving, or taking the baton. And so--Monroe became a bandleader.The twelve piece orchestra played the "Terrace Gables" for the season then moved to a Boston hotel, thence to the Dempsey-Vanderbilt in Miami, Florida. By this time, Marshard was again discontent: He wanted the maestro to go into business for himself. The boys in the band also urged Vaughn to do the same. Talent scout Willard Alexander entered the picture and he too prevailed upon Monroe to take the leap.In 1940 Vaughn finally gave in. He disbanded the Marshard unit at the end of the Miami engagement, asking those who wanted to join the new band to meet him two weeks later up north. Jack Marshard became manager, and Alexander was to handle booking. Monroe then got into his car and without stopping to rest, drove straight to New York. Marian Baughman was waiting for him there, as was a train to take them to Jeanette, where they were married a few days later. Almost immediately after the ceremony, the newlyweds returned to Boston where Marshard had collected the nucleus of the new Monroe band. Weeks of hectic rehearsal followed.The new band made its debut in Siler's Ten Acres in New England. On the night of April 10, 1940, they made their first radio broadcast--over NBC. RCA-Victor heard a later broadcast, and signed Vaughn immediately to a record contract.During the next year, the Monroe band traveled extensively, playing hotels, theaters, ballrooms and night spots throughout the New England and Mid-West areas. The husky, masculine tones of Vaughn's voice soon won him a reputation as a "man's singer," without costing him the loyalty of his feminine followers. His recording of IF YOU SEE MAGGIE became one of the nation's top sellers. Since then any number of Monroe records have moved into this same category. To name a few: SHRINE OF ST. CECELIA; THERE! I'VE SAID IT AGAIN; LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW; and I WISH I DIDN'T LOVE YOU SO. Vaughn himself, feels that BALLERINA is one of his top performances on records.The year 1941 really marks Monroe's entry into big-time. In June of that year he opened at New York's Paramount Theater, and a few months later took his band into the Century Room of the Commodore. He has played there every year since, sometimes more than one engagement. To date, Vaughn has played twelve engagements in all at the Commodore. He says it almost seems like a "second home" to him.In 1944, Monroe needed another trombone. After a long and futile search, Vaughn finally gave up, bought a trombone and taught himself to play. Now, when the occasion arises, he still stands in with the trombone section, apparently having deserted the trumpet.Monroe is a man of many hobbies. He likes photography, motorcycling, miniature trains, carpentry, swimming, golf, and especially flying. His earnings are large enough to permit him to be an active flying enthusiast and he owns two planes--Cantina II and Cantina III (named from first three and last four letters of his daughters' names). On dates played within three hundred miles of New York, Vaughn is able to fly home for a visit on his day off.He often uses the planes for getting from one engagement to another. "It gives me extra time for business," says Vaughn, "and it breaks up the monotony of road life when we're doing one-nighters." Sometimes, it breaks up the monotony too well. Recently, Vaughn had to make a forced landing in a Pennsylvania cabbage patch, after being blown about fifty miles off his course. It's the only time he's been late on a job.That's a pretty good record for a man who directs RCA-Victor's top-selling recording band, plays a hundred one-nighters a year, usually fifteen weeks of theater dates, a dozen other week engagements at night clubs and the like, and is on the air every Saturday night for Camel cigarettes.The Monroes, with daughters Candace (born Dec. 13, 1941) and Christina (born Oct. 16, 1944), live in a smart New York apartment on Park Avenue. Vaughn calls it "home" but with the exception of his long engagement at Hotel Commodore every year, he sees very little of it.
Frederick Charles Slack (August 7, 1910 – August 10, 1965) was an American swing and boogie-woogie pianist and bandleader.
Life and careerSlack was born in Westby, Wisconsin.[1] He learned to play drums as a boy. Later he took up the xylophone, and at the age of 13 he changed to the piano. He studied with a local teacher throughout high school. At the age of 17 he moved with his parents to Chicago, where he continued his musical training. He met Rosy McHargue, a well-known clarinetist, who took him to hear many leading musicians, including Bix Beiderbecke and Earl Hines. His first job was with Johnny Tobin at the Beach View Gardens. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he worked with Henry Halstead, Earl Burtnett and Lennie Hayton, before joining Ben Pollack in 1934.
He played with the Jimmy Dorsey Band in the 1930s and was a charter member of the Will Bradley Orchestra when it formed in 1939. Known to bandmates as "Daddy Slack," he played the piano solo on Bradley's recording of "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar", one of the early white boogie-woogie hits and a classic of the Big Band era.
He formed his own band in 1942 and signed with the newly founded Capitol Records. He recorded three songs at his third recording session for Capitol, on May 21, 1942. His recording of "Cow Cow Boogie," sung by the 17-year-old Ella Mae Morse, was the second record Capitol issued on July 1, and by July 25 it had reached number 1 on the Hit Parade. It was Capitol's first gold single.[2]
T-Bone Walker was a member of Slack's band from 1942 to 1944 and Slack later accompanied Walker on his first solo recording for Capitol, "Mean Old World".[3] This band also had a hit with "Strange Cargo."
Slack continued to record with Capitol until at least 1950, recording some 80 tracks for the label.[4]
Slack also recorded as an accompanist for Big Joe Turner, Johnny Mercer, Margaret Whiting and Lisa Morrow.
In the original version of the song "Down the Road a Piece", recorded in 1940 by the Will Bradley Orchestra, Slack is mentioned in the lyrics:
If you wanna' hear some boogie then I know the placeIt's just an old piano and a knocked-out bass.The drummer-man's a guy they call 8-beat MackYou remember Doc and old "Beat Me Daddy" Slack.Man it's better than chicken fried in bacon greaseCome along with me boy, it's just down the road a piece."Eight Beat Mack" refers to drummer Ray McKinley, and "Doc" refers to the band's bass player, Doc Goldberg.
His 1955 album Boogie Woogie on the 88 featured a horn section including jazz musicians Shorty Sherock and Herbie Harper among others, and with arrangements by Benny Carter.
He also co-wrote the 1945 classic "The House of Blue Lights" first recorded with singer Ella Mae Morse, and later by Chuck Miller, The Andrews Sisters, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.
On August 10, 1965, Slack was found dead in his bedroom from undetermined causes.
Freddie Slack in the pianist Freddie Slack led a series of smart bands between 1942 and 1949. Many featured crafty arrangements with tight section parts and delivered a powerful snap. The bands also had marvelous sidemen. Players at different points in time included guitarist T. Bone Walker, trumpeters Mannie Klein and Ray Linn, reed players Barney Bigard and Les Baxter, bassist Howard Rumsey and Harry Babison, arranger Paul Weston, guitarists Remo Palmieri and George Van Eps, bassist Clyde Lombardi, and drummers Irv Kluger, Nick Fatool and Ray McKinley. The band's singers were Johnny Mercer and Ella Mae Morse.
3651915Morse was a white vocalist who specialized in sounding a lot like Ella Fitzgerald. Mercer was folksy but his "black voice" songs were mostly novelties, undercutting the band's instrumental prowess. If we eliminate most of the vocals, we're left with Slack, an engaging boogie-woogie piano player, and a band that was arranged to sound like Count Basie. In this regard, Slack's sound was years ahead of his time. There was a hip and loping quality to his boogie rhythms and thunderclap horn sections.
91U3-wH+nLLBorn in Wisconsin in 1910, Slack began as a drummer and led a band in high school. Next came xylophone and then piano at 13. When his parents moved to Chicago in 1927, Slack studied piano at the American Conservatory and was exposed to Earl "Fatha" Hines and Bix Beiderbecke. In the 1930s, Slack joined bands with some of the best players in the business, including Harry James, Irving Fazool and Shorty Sherock. Slack eventually wound up in Los Angeles, and in 1937 he was recruited by Jimmy Dorsey. Two years later, he became the chief arranger for the Will Bradley-Ray McKinley band.
51Dm3J7bWpLIn 1941, Slack formed his own band. A year later, Johnny Mercer, songwriter Buddy de Sylva and record-store owner Glen Wallichs launched Capitol Records. Slack was one of the label's first stars, and Cow Cow Boogie, with Ella Mae Morse, became Capitol's first gold record. In the late 1940s, Slack's career sagged as R&B ascended and African-American bands led by Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton and others delivered a more authentic and raucous boogie Slack's crack sides were Doll Dance (1942), Mister Five By Five (1942), Riffette (1942) and Old Rob Roy (1942). Slack also recorded a song called Hey, Mr. Postman in 1946, with a story line that the Marvelettes' song Please Mr. Postman (1961) explored.
Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 8.17.15 PMIt would be unfair to say that all of Slack's material holds up well today. Mercer's cornball novelty tunes in an African-American voice will still make me cringe. But Slack's instrumentals still deliver a good kick.
Freddie Slack died in 1965 at age 55; Johnny Mercer died in 1976 at age 66; and Ella Mae Morse died in 1999 at age 75.
Vaughn Wilton Monroe (October 7, 1911 – May 21, 1973) was an American baritone singer, trumpeter, big band leader, actor, and businessman, most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; for recording and radio.Contents1 Biography2 Personal life3 Death4 Monroe Orchestra personnel5 Singles6 References7 External linksBiographyMonroe was born in Akron, Ohio, United States, on October 7, 1911.[1] He graduated from Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania in 1929,[2] where he was Senior Class President and voted "Most Likely to Succeed." After graduation, he attended Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he was an active member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Monroe attended New England Conservatory for one semester in 1935, studying voice with Clarence B. Shirley.
Monroe formed his first orchestra in Boston in 1940 and became its principal vocalist. He began recording for RCA Victor's subsidiary Bluebird label. That same year, Monroe built The Meadows, a restaurant and nightclub on Massachusetts Route 9 in Framingham, Massachusetts, west of Boston. After he ceased performing he ran the club until his death in 1973.[3]
The summer of 1942 brought a 13-week engagement on radio, as Monroe and his orchestra had a summer replacement program for Blondie on CBS.[4]
Monroe hosted the Camel Caravan radio program from The Meadows, starting in 1946 and, during this time, was featured in a Camel cigarettes commercial.[5] In 1952, Monroe and his orchestra had a weekly program on Saturday nights on NBC radio. Those programs originate on location from wherever the band happened to be touring. Each program featured a focus on a college in the United States.[6]
The Meadows burned to the ground in December 1980 after sitting shuttered and vacant for a number of years.
Monroe was tall and handsome, which helped him as a band leader and singer, as well as in Hollywood. He was sometimes called "the Baritone with Muscles," "the Voice with Hair on its Chest," "Ol' Leather Tonsils,"[7] or "Leather Lungs".[citation needed]
Monroe recorded extensively for RCA Victor until 1956, and his signature tune was "Racing With the Moon" (1941). It sold over one million copies by 1952, becoming Monroe's first million-seller, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[8] Among his other hits were "In the Still of the Night" (1939), "There I Go" (1941), "There I've Said It Again" (1945), "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" (1946), "Ballerina" (1947), "Melody Time" (1948), "Riders in the Sky" (1949), "Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)" (1949), "Sound Off" (1951), and "In the Middle of the House" (1956). He also turned down the chance to record "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".[2]
Monroe's orchestra had a number of excellent musicians including future jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli. While their musical focus was largely romantic ballads, in person the band had a fiercely swinging side only occasionally captured on record. In ballrooms, Monroe often reserved the final set of the evening for unrestrained, swinging music.
Movies also beckoned, although he did not pursue it with vigor. Monroe appeared in Meet the People (1944), Carnegie Hall (1947), Singing Guns (1950), and The Toughest Man in Arizona (1952). He co-authored The Adventures of Mr. Putt Putt (1949), a children's book about airplanes and flying.Monroe as a guest star in a 1962 Bonanza episode.He hosted The Vaughn Monroe Show on CBS Television (1950–51, 1954–55) and appeared on Bonanza, The Mike Douglas Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Texaco Star Theatre, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and American Bandstand.[2] He was a major stockholder in RCA and appeared in print ads and television commercials for the company's TV and audio products.
After leaving the performing end of show business, he remained with RCA for many years as a TV spokesperson, executive, and talent scout. In the latter capacity, he helped give Neil Sedaka, among others, his first major exposure.[citation needed] He was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for recording at 1600 Vine Street and one for radio at 1755 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.[9][10]
Personal lifeMonroe married Marian Baughman, April 2, 1940, in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, where they had met as high school students. They did not date in high school but became romantically inclined toward each other when their paths crossed again in New York City, twelve years after graduation. They came back to Jeannette for their wedding. They had two children: Candace (born 1941) and Christina (born 1944). They remained married until Vaughn's death in 1973.[9][10] Monroe was a licensed pilot and often flew himself to tour dates in his own Lockheed 12A airplane.
DeathMonroe died on May 21, 1973 at Martin County Memorial Hospital in Florida, shortly after having stomach surgery for a bleeding ulcer.[1][2][11] He was buried in Fernhill Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Stuart, Florida.
Monroe Orchestra personnelMoonmaids, a female vocal quartet (1946 to 1952)Frank L. Ryerson, arranger & trumpeter (1944)Ziggy TalentGeorge Robinson, Trombone (1944–1945)Andrew (Andy) Bagni, Lead Saxophone (1939–1958)Bucky Pizzarelli, GuitarJoe Connie, Lead TromboneJohnny Watson, Arranger, Baritone SaxophoneWedo Marasco, Alto SaxophoneRed Nichols, Jazz TrumpetMike Shelby, PianoMaree Lee, Vocalist (Moonmaids)Tinker Cunningham, Vocalist (Moonmaids)Babe Feldman, Tenor SaxophoneJack Fay, String BassGerry Bruno, String BassMary Jo Grogan, (Moonmaids)Art Dedrick, Trombone, ArrangerRay Coniff, TromboneEddie Julian, DrumsBenny West, TrumpetJune Hiett, MoonmaidsArnold Ross, PianoDon Costa, ArrangerMarilyn Duke, vocalistBetty Norton, MoonmaidsArlene Truax, MoonmaidsKatie Myatt, MoonmaidsJerry Bruno, bassistDino DiGiano, Trumpet (1941)SinglesYear Title Chart positionsUS1940 "There I Go" 51941 "So You're the One" 18"High on a Windy Hill" 15"There'll Be Some Changes Made" 20"G'bye Now" 14"Yours (Quiereme Mucho)" 181942 "The Shrine of Saint Cecilia" 20"Tangerine" 16"Three Little Sisters" 18"My Devotion" 5"When the Lights Go On Again" 21943 "Let's Get Lost" 81944 "The Trolley Song" 4"Take It, Jackson" 20"The Very Thought of You" 141945 "Rum and Coca-Cola" 8"There! I've Said It Again" 1"Just a Blue Serge Suit" 17"Something Sentimental" 12"Fishin' for the Moon" 11"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" 11946 "Are These Really Mine?" 12"Seems Like Old Times" 7"Who Told You That Lie?" 15"It's My Lazy Day" 16"The Things We Did Last Summer" 131947 "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" 2"Kokomo, Indiana" 10"You Do" 5"Ballerina" 1"How Soon? (Will I Be Seeing You)" 31948 "Cool Water" 9"The Maharajah of Magador" 19"Ev'rday I Love You (Just a Little Bit More)" 22"In My Dreams" 201949 "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" 3"Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend"A 1"Someday" 1"That Lucky Old Sun" 6"Vieni Su (Say You Love Me Too)" 29"Mule Train" 101950 "Bamboo" 4"Thanks, Mister Florist" 201951 "On Top of Old Smoky" 8"Sound Off (The Duckworth Chant)" 3"Old Soldiers Never Die" 7"Meanderin'" 281952 "Charmaine" 27"Mountain Laurel" 22"Lady Love" 18"Idaho State Fair'" 201954 "They Were Doin' the Mambo" 71955 "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" 381956 "Don't Go to Strangers" 38"In the Middle of the House" 111959 "The Battle of New Orleans" 871965 "Queen of the Senior Prom" 132

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