Big Band & Swing News

A sad “Auf Wiedersehen” to WWII Sweetheart Vera Lynn

She was perhaps the most recognizable female vocalist of the Second World War. Her million-selling record “We’ll Meet Again” became an anthem of hope for soldiers and civilians alike across both theaters of war. And her performances on radio gave reassurance to Londoners during the darkest days of the Blitz. Dame Vera Lynn has died … Continue reading A sad “Auf Wiedersehen” to WWII Sweetheart Vera Lynn

Artie Shaw: The Temperamental Grumpyman of Swing

If bandleader Tommy Dorsey was known as “The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing”, then fellow bandleader Artie Shaw well could have deserved the moniker “The “Temperamental Grumpyman of Swing”. Widely regarded as one of jazz’s finest clarinetists alongside performers like Benny Goodman, Shaw led one of the most popular big bands of the late ‘30s and … Continue reading Artie Shaw: The Temperamental Grumpyman of Swing

Chuck Cecil, Host of “The Swingin’ Years”, has Died at 97

Whenever the topic of the Big Band Era is discussed by music critics, there generally holds an agreement that it lasted from 1935 to 1945. However, more astute fans of the era know that it never really ended. In ballrooms across America, many name bands continued to draw crowds even as their leaders became octogenarians. … Continue reading Chuck Cecil, Host of “The Swingin’ Years”, has Died at 97

“Mrs. Swing” Rocks the House – The Story of Mildred Bailey

It was a typical New York evening… that January of 1944. The Metropolitan Opera House at 1411 Broadway in Manhattan had played host to many talented artists and vocalists. Enrico Caruso, Lawrence Tibbett and Conductor Arturo Toscanini had all graced its stage. But on that cold 18th of January in 1944, the Metropolitan Opera House … Continue reading “Mrs. Swing” Rocks the House – The Story of Mildred Bailey

Dancin’ With Anson – The Anson Weeks Story

He led a popular West Coast big band off and on for over 40 years. Many future artists got their start with his band, and his orchestra backed-up Bing Crosby on the 1932 Crosby hit “Please.” Bandleader and pianist Anson Weeks was born in 1896 in Oakland, California, across the bay from San Francisco. He … Continue reading Dancin’ With Anson – The Anson Weeks Story

Nat King Cole – The ‘Piano Man’

When his career was cut short at the age of 45, he had more than one hundred hits to his name and played to sold-out audiences across the nation. But his humble beginnings suggested his success on stage would be a hard-fought battle off stage. Born the son of a poor Baptist preacher in Montgomery, … Continue reading Nat King Cole – The ‘Piano Man’

Swingin’ High – The Bibulous Bunny Berigan

He was a musical child prodigy admired by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Harry James. His talent on the trumpet helped propel bandleaders like Benny Goodman to fame. But his love of liquor ultimately paved the way to a tragic ending for this electrifying musician of the 1930’s. Bunny Berigan was a handsome musician … Continue reading Swingin’ High – The Bibulous Bunny Berigan

It Had To Be You – Vocalist Dick Haymes

When big band aficionados gather to discuss their favorite crooners of the Big Band period, inevitably three names come up. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Argentinian-born Dick Haymes. Haymes was perhaps one of the most popular vocalists of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Born to Irish and British parents in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1918, his … Continue reading It Had To Be You – Vocalist Dick Haymes

Arranger & Musical King Maker: The Jerry Gray Story

When musicians debate the question of which were the biggest hits to emerge from the big band era, inevitably two titles come to the forefront: Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine” and Glenn Miller’s “A String of Pearls”.  Ironically, neither of these two songs, both of which became million sellers, might never have become hits were … Continue reading Arranger & Musical King Maker: The Jerry Gray Story

Big Band Baritone Vic Damone Passes

To his fans, he was as much at ease with a gold club in his hands as a microphone.  Vocalist and golf enthusiast Vic Damone sang with the greats (Sinatra, Como and Martin) and played golf with the greats (Hogan, Snead and Demaret). His smooth baritone earned praise from Frank Sinatra. Vic Damone died in … Continue reading Big Band Baritone Vic Damone Passes