Archive | May 2012

Bing Crosby, the Original Crooner

Bing Crosby mesmerized all of us with his soothing voice. The famous crooner was born Harry Lillis Crosby on May 3, 1902 in Tacoma, Washington. He was the fourth of seven children of bookkeeper, Harry Lincoln Crosby.

Little Harry was a fan of “The Bingville Bugle” a Sunday feature of the local newspaper. A neighborhood friend nicknamed Harry “Bingo from Bingville.” The name stuck and was eventually shortened to Bing.

Bing joined with Al Rinker and Harry Barris to form “The Rhythm Boys” in 1925. Their first recording was “I’ve Got a Girl.” By the time the 1930s rolled around the band had gone their separate ways. Bing made his first solo radio debut on September 2, 1931.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s most popular singers had to “belt” out their songs so that those sitting in the back seats could hear them. Bing discovered the microphone and did not have to strain his voice. A new sound was developed that became known as a “Crooner”. By the end of the 1930s Crosby was one of the top performers in the country with his deep bass-baritone voice.

In 1930 Bing married Dixie Lee. The couple would have four sons together. He is considered the most successful recording artist of the 1930s and 1940s. He had twenty-four singles in 1939.

Bing loved sports and was an avid golfer. He bought his first racehorse in 1935. He was also a registered republican.

He became very interested in the technical innovations of tape recording that were being innovated at the time. He became the first performer to pre-record a radio show. He formed Bing Crosby Enterprises which continued to work on pushing the boundaries technology, including some of the first videotaping.

During World War II he made numerous live appearances to the American troops.

“White Christmas” became his biggest hit song. He first introduced it to the public on Christmas Day 1941. The song was featured the following year in the movie “Holiday Inn.” The song was so popular he had to re-record the hit in 1947. This is the version commonly heard today.

He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his 1944 film “Going My Way.” In 1946 he became part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. He would retain ownership for the rest of his life.

During the 1950s and 1960s he appeared on a number of variety shows. Bing’s wife, Dixie, died in 1952. Five years later he married Kathryn Grant and they had three children. The family appeared frequently on the annual Christmas edition of “The Hollywood Palace”.

Bing had 383 chart singles and forty-one Number One hits throughout his career. He also starred in numerous movies and musicals. In 1962, Bing would receive the first Grammy Global Achievement Award. He was inducted to both the radio and popular music halls of fame. He is also one of only a handful of people to have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He collected twenty-three gold and platinum records. He is considered the third most popular actor due to his movie ticket sales {behind Clark Gable and John Wayne}.

Bing’s last appearance on television was filmed in London in September 1977. He recorded two duets with David Bowie. Their recordings of “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Peace on Earth” are still popular today. After he finished with his obligations in England, Bing flew to Spain. On October 14, 1977 he was on the golf course playing a round of golf. At shortly after six o’clock in the evening he collapsed of a massive heart attack and died on the green. Widely written is the fact that his last words were “That was a great game of golf, fellas.” The special recorded with David Bowie was broadcast just weeks after his death.

Bing would remain one of the best selling artist of the Twentieth Century. Thanks to his advances in tape recording we can still enjoy his soulful croons today.

This entry was posted on May 6, 2012. 2 Comments

The Carpenter’s Left a Lasting Impression

During the 1970s the Carpenter’s were very popular. Even today their hits can still be heard in commercials and movies.

The Carpenter’s were a brother and sister group. Richard was born on October 15, 1946 and Karen was born on March 2, 1950. They were born in Connecticut and later moved to California.

In his childhood Richard developed an interest in music. By the age of twelve, Richard knew he wanted a career in the music industry. He studied the subject at California State University.

Karen began playing the drums, joining the band in high school. In the beginning Karen played the drums during all of their concerts. She is said to consider herself “a drummer who sang.” Her drumming was widely praised by her peers and Modern Drummer.

Richard formed the Richard Carpenter Trio from 1965-1968. Their first recording was made in 1965. They appeared on the talent show Your All-American College Show. Many of their recording demos were made in a friend’s garage. Unfortunately most of their tapes were rejected.

The duo signed their first contract with A&M Records in April 1969. Karen sang the majority of their songs. She started out singing behind the drums, but eventually was convinced that she should be out front.

Karen felt she had little creative control over her career and began dieting obsessively. She developed anorexia nervosa, a disease she would battle for the rest of her life. Richard also battled his own addiction with Quaaludes.

Their last tour ended on September 4, 1978. Karen worked on a solo album the following year. This work was very different from the Carpenters. {Richard released Lovelines after her death.}

Karen married Thomas James Burris on August 31, 1980 but the couple would eventually separate.

In 1981 the duo made a handful of live performances to promote their latest album.

In April 1982, Karen would record her last song. Her final appearance was at a local school on December 17 that same year.

On February 4, 1983, the thirty-two year old Karen Carpenter died. Her death cast light on anorexia nervosa and bulimia. She is now buried {with her parents} at a cemetery in Westlake Village, California.

On October 12, 1983 the Carpenters received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Richard married Mary Rudolph in 1984 and they have five children. He continues to work as a pianist and composer. He has also released a solo album.

During their fourteen year career the duo recorded eleven albums, releasing 31 singles. They also had five television specials and toured not only through the United States, but the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and parts of Europe.

Many of their popular songs include “Close To You”, “Ticket To Ride”,”Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Top of the World”, and their signature song “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

While Karen is greatly missed, she lives on through her music.