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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.

Yesterday was once Scrambled Eggs

Did you know The Beatles originally called their hit song ‘Scrambled Eggs’?

The song, Yesterday, was originally composed by Paul McCartney. He was living with the parents of his then girlfriend, Jane Asher. He’s stated that he lived in a small attic room in the family’s house. He’d saved enough money to buy a piano that was beside his bed. The melody came to him in a dream and immediately upon waking he went to the piano and began to play the tune, so he would not forget.

From Scrambled Eggs to Yesterday

From Scrambled Eggs to Yesterday

McCartney thought he must have heard the tune elsewhere and played it for a number of people. When no one claimed the tune, he realized the melody must be his own creation. McCartney and John Lennon began working on the lyrics about a month after McCartney wrote the melody. They were slow in coming at first. The duo began to refer to the song as ‘Scrambled Eggs’. Paul McCartney said of the song: “It had no words. I used to call it ‘Scrambled Eggs.’ The lyrics used to go, ‘Scrambled eggs, oh, my baby, how I love your legs…’”

McCartney and his girlfriend, Jane Asher, holidayed in Albufeira, Algarve at the end of May 1965. He borrowed an acoustic guitar and completed the lyrics while on vacation. Apparently the group members of the Beatles had a lot of fun playing around with possible lyrics during their writing sessions. Lennon later recalled “We called it ‘Scrambled Eggs’ and it became a joke between us.”

The group went into the studio and recorded the song on June 14, 1965. The first official recording had Paul McCartney accompanied by a string quartet. McCartney often performs the song with an acoustic guitar to a recording of the strings.

The song was released on the Beatles album “Help!” on August 6, 1965. This version was so different than their other works that the band decided not to release the single in the United Kingdom. The song immediately hit the charts when released in the United States. Three months later the song was released and hit the charts in the UK.

Yesterday won the group many adult fans and they became more than just a group for young people.

The song caused a rift between McCartney and Yoko Ono when he asked to change the credits to McCartney/Lennon and she refused to reverse the credits.

Yesterday became a huge hit, with over sixteen hundred cover versions. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, there are over three thousand recorded versions, making it one of the most recorded songs of all time. In 1997 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

BBC Radio 2 voted Yesterday the best song in 20th Century. MTV and Rolling Stone voted the song the #1 Pop Song of all time.

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus Loves Me is the best loved children’s song of all time.

Jesus Loves Me

The words were written by Anna Bartlett Warner, who was born in 1827. Warner could trace her lineage back to the Puritan Pilgrims on both sides. Her father was Henry Warner, a well known New York City lawyer originally from New England, and her mother was Anna Bartlett, from a wealthy, fashionable family in New York’s Hudson Square. When Warner was a young child, her mother died, and her father’s sister Fanny came to live with the Warners. Although Henry Warner had been a successful lawyer, he lost most of his fortune in the Panic of 1837 and in subsequent lawsuits and poor investments. The family had to leave their mansion at St. Mark’s Place in New York and move to an old, ramshackled Revolutionary War-era farmhouse on Constitution Island, near West Point, NY. In 1849, seeing little change in their family’s financial situation, Susan and Anna started writing to earn money.

Both sisters became devout Christians in the late 1830s. After their conversion, they became confirmed members of the Mercer Street Presbyterian church, although in later life, Anna became drawn into Methodist circles.

Anna Warner

Anna’s sister, Susan, wrote under the pen name Elizabeth Wetherell. She wrote over thirty novels, but her first, “The Wide, Wide World” written in 1850 was the most popular. It was translated into several other languages, including French, German, and Dutch. After “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, it was perhaps the most widely circulated story of the day. Anna wrote under the pseudonym Amy Lothrop. She wrote thirty-one novels including “Robinson Crusoe’s Farmyard”, “Dollars and Cents”, “In West Point Colors” and a biography of her sister. The sisters published 106 novels and children’s books, eighteen of which they wrote together. Together the duo wrote “Wych Hazel”, “Mr. Rutherford’s Children”, and “The Hills of the Shatemuc.” Anna published two collections of verse in “Hymns of the Church Militant” in 1858 and “Wayfaring Hymns” in 1869.

Neither sister married, but held regular Bible Studies for West Point cadets. Their uncle, Rev. Thomas Warner, was the Academy Chaplain. Anna wrote a fresh hymn for her Sunday School class each month. It is believed that Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the last cadets to attend their classes. He graduated the year of Anna’s death.

The words to “Jesus Loves Me” first appeared in Susan’s 1860 bestselling novel “Say and Seal”. In the novel, Sunday School teacher Mr. Linden comforts his student, Johnny Fax. The words are spoken to soothe the dying child.

Jesus Loves Me” was published as a hymn in the hymnbook “Original Hymns”.

The tune and chorus were added in 1862 by Dr. William Batchelder Bradbury. Dr. Bradbury dedicated himself to teaching, writing and publishing his music; published 59 collections of sacred and secular music. He wrote hymns such as “He Leadeth Me”, “Just As I Am” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. “Jesus Loves Me” appeared in his hymnal “The Golden Sower”.

When they were on military duty, the cadets would sing “Jesus loves me.”

Anna outlived her sister by more than thirty years. The popularity of the song was so great, that both sisters were buried with military honors because of their contribution they made to the spiritual well being of the soldiers. They are the only civilians buried in the West Point Cemetery.

Their home, Good Crag, was willed to West Point Academy and made into a National Shrine. Their home is now a museum in their honor.

Jesus Loves Me” is the first hymn taught to new converts and children worldwide. Additional verses have been added throughout the years.

For more on Jesus Loves Me

Alexander’s Ragtime Band

This hit was written by Irving Berlin in 1911. The belief is the song refers to the then “new ideas” of standard music that was popping up, from ragtime to the blues and jazz.

Vaudeville singer Emma Carus introduced the song and helped make it popular.

By the time the Titanic sailed in April 1912, the song was very popular and passengers recalled hearing it played many times on that fateful voyage. The song is known to be in the White Star Line Songbook and heard to be played in the early moments of the ship’s sinking.

Numerous performers have recorded this song, which kept it on the charts for five straight decades.

In 1938 the musical Alexander’s Ragtime Band was made, which was loosely based on this song.

Nearer, My God, To Thee, Last Song Played As the Titanic Sinks

Nearer, My God, To Thee is commonly believed to be the last song the Titanic played as the ship sank.

The popular hymn was written by Sarah Flower Adams and is loosely based on Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:11-19. This hymn is considered by hymnology students to be the finest hymn ever written by a woman composer.

Titanic In Dock

Sarah was born in Harlow, England on February 22, 185. Her father, Benjamin Flower, was a newspaper editor and man of prominence. Sarah was active on the stage in her younger days. She won rave reviews portraying Lady MacBeth in London. She worked closely with her sister, Eliza Flower, who was an accomplished musician. Sarah married railway engineer, William Bridges Adams, in 1834. The couple lived in Loughton, Essex, England, where a blue plaque is now dedicated to the public.

Sarah and Eliza worked created many hymns with William Johnson Fox for his hymnal “Collection Hymns and Anthems”. It is said Sarah wrote quickly and editors found little to change, many of her songs were praising God. Her longest work is “Vivia Perpetua, A Dramatic Poem” written in 1841. While working together Rev. Fox said he wished he could find a song to conclude his sermon on Jacob and Esau. Eliza recommended her sister write the hymn. Sarah spent the next week in prayer and studying the scriptures. The song was published in a 1841 hymnal under the title “Hymns and Anthems.” Sarah and Eliza were raised in the Unitarian Church, but it’s possible Sarah may have converted to the Baptist Faith shortly before her death.

Sarah Adams

Sarah faithfully cared for her sister when she contracted tuberculosis. Eliza died in 1846, but Sarah had developed the consumption by this time. She died on Aug 14, 1848 at the age of forty-three and is buried at the church in Harlow.

The words Sarah wrote are associated with three different tunes. In the United Kingdom, it is usually sung to a tune known as “Horbury.” This tune was written in 1841 by John Bacchus Dykes.

The tune “Propior Deo” was written by Sir Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame. This tune is popular in British Methodist traditions.

Lowell Mason, who is known as writing over 1600 tunes such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, “Joy to the World!” and “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”, wedded the lyrics to Sarah’s song with his tune, “Bethany.” Although the lyrics were introduced in 1844, it was after this marriage that the song became popular. This version is the most popular and well known of the three.

Nearer, My God, To Thee” has proven its popularity through the ages.

Titanic, a tragedy

The Confederate army band played this song as the survivors of the disastrous Pickett’s Charge (in the Battle of Gettysburg) returned from their failed infantry assault.

The Rough Riders sang the hymn at the burial of their slain comrades after the Battle of Las Guasima.

Legend says the words of this hymn were the dying words of President William McKinley after his assassination in 1901. The hymn was also played at President William McKinley, President James Garfield and President Gerald Ford’s funerals.

Wallace Hartley, the Titanic’s band leader, was known to like this song and request that the hymn be played at his funeral. Survivor accounts differ among which version or melody was played. Friends of Hartley recounted after the sinking, that he had said if he was ever on a sinking ship he would play Nearer, My God, To Thee.

For more on the Titanic

Autumn, heard the night of Titanic’s Sinking

There are conflicting reports among survivors regarding the last song the Band played as the Titanic was sinking. We know it was either “Autumn” or “Nearer My God to Thee.”

We will discuss the later song next time. Let’s take a look at “Autumn”. I’m familiar with this legend, but knew nothing about the song.


The belief that the song was “Autumn” comes from Harold Bride, the Titanic’s junior wireless operator. This is a brief part of his testimony: “From aft came the tunes of the band. It was a rag-time tune, I don’t know what. Then there was “Autumn”…The big wave carried the boat off. I had hold of an oarlock, and I went off with it…The ship was gradually turning on her nose—just like a duck does that goes down for a dive. I had only one thing on my mind—to get away from the suction. The band was still playing. I guess all the band went down. They were playing “Autumn” then…The way the band kept playing was a noble thing. I heard it while still we were working wireless, when there was a ragtime tune for us, and the last I saw of the band, when I was floating out in the sea with my lifebelt on, it was still on deck playing “Autumn.” How they ever did I cannot imagine.”

So what is this song “Autumn” that he referred to? We’re not sure! By that I mean it could have been two very different songs. Francois Barthelemon wrote a hymn tune titled “Autumn”. The commonly held belief is McBride was referring to “Songe d’Automne”.

Titanic Graves

The hymn, “Autumn” by Barthelemon is the version The Times assumed McBride was referring to at the time. However, this song was not very popular in British society at the time of the Titanic sinking. This tune was written in 1785. Barthelemon was a French born musician who was an associate of Franz Haydn. He wrote hymns, operas, and symphonies among other types of musical composition.

Song d’Automne” was a waltz written by Archibald Joyce in 1908, and this popular song is known to be in the White Star Line musical book. He was an English composer of popular music and known as the “English Waltz King”. This waltz was a hit in 1912 society and often referred to as “Autumn.” Many of the passengers that survived recounted hearing this song played a number of times throughout the voyage. Sometimes you’ll also find the piece referred to as “Dream of Autumn.”

The contemporary belief is that Harold McBride was referring to “Song d’Automne” but we’ll never know for sure. Based on the testimony of survivor, Algernon Barkworth, who also heard this song, the belief is upon the completion of this waltz, the band dispersed and moved to the safety of the stern, where they again resumed their playing.

Songs Heard on the Titanic

The White Star Line Songbook Had More than 150 Songs for the musicians to learn. The songs were mainly upbeat and consisted of ragtime and waltzes. Hymns would have been appropriate for Sunday services. The musicians were expected to know all of these songs by memory and play any of them upon request from a passenger.

Let Me Call You Sweetheart” is a very popular song. I have sung it numerous times while dancing with the residents. It was written by Leo Friedman and Beth Slater Whitson. The song was published in 1910.

An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314” (German for On the Beautiful Blue Danube) is better known as “The Blue Danube”. The waltz was written by Austrian composer, Johann Strauss II. Strauss composed the song in 1866. Strauss later made some changes. The words were added by Joseph Weyl, of the Vienna Men’s Choral Association’s poet at the time.

Alexander’s Ragtime Band” was written by Irving Berlin the year before in 1911. The song quickly became a hit.

Oh, You Beautiful Doll” was written by Seymore Brown and Nat D. Ayer in 1911. The 1911 composition is one of the first songs with a twelve bar opening.

Shine On, Harvest Moon” was written in the early-1900s by the vaudeville team Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth. The due debuted the song in the 1908 Ziegfeld Follies. This is just one of many Moon songs by the Tin Pan Alley composers.

Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair
Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair” was written by Stephen Foster and published in 1854. He wrote the parlor song with his wife in mind.

Londonderry Air” is a melody that originated in Ireland. The tune became popular around the world, and lyrics such as Danny Boy are set to the melody. The melody appeared in the 1855 book The Ancient Music of Ireland. The tune was contributed by Jane Ross, who heard the tune being played in the sreets and wrote it down. Other songs with this tune include Irish Love Song {words by Katherine Tynan Kinkson} in 1894, the hymn “I cannot tell” by William Young Fullerton, and “In Derry Vale.” Composer Dottie Rambo married the tune with her lyrics for “He Looked Beyond My Fault.”

To A Wild Rose” Was written by American composer Edward Alexander MacDowell. This short piece was very popular.

I Want A Girl (Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)” was written by Harry Von Tilzer. He was considered one of the best Tin Pan Alley songwriters in the early 20th Century. Some of his other hits were “A Bird in a Gilded Cage”,”Wait ‘Til The Sun Shines Nellie”, “And The Green Grass Grew All Around”, and “The Ragtime Goblin Man”.

Come Josephine, In My Flying Machine” written in 1910 by Alfred Bryan and Fred Fischer.

The Man on the Flying Trapeze”, was a popular song from the early English music hall days. George Leybourne and Alfred Lee published the song in 1868.

Many of these songs can be found on Titanic compilation music CDs. How many of these songs do you know?

Heroes: The Titanic Band

“They kept it up to the very end. Only the engulfing ocean had power to drown them into silence. The band was playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ I could hear it distinctly. The end was very close.” -CHARLOTTE COLLYER, TITANIC SURVIVOR

We have all heard the stories of how the Titanic orchestra played until the ship went under. Still…little is known about these brave men.

A little bit about the band to start with. The band played for the First and Second Class passengers. The White Star Line provided a song book for the musicians. They were expected to memorize all of the songs and play for the passengers upon request. Third class passengers brought their own instruments and provided their own entertainment.

Who were these men?

Wallace Henry Hartley, Titanic’s bandleader, was born in Colne, Lancashire, England in 1878. He was introduced to music at an early age by his choirmaster father. He introduced the congregation of his church to the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” He worked for a bank for a short time before joining Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1903 he joined the Bridlington Municipal Orchestra and stayed there for six years. In 1909 he joined the Cunard Line and served on their liners RMS Lucania, RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania. During his stint with Cunard, the agency C.W. & F.N. Black, took over to supply musicians for the Cunard and White Star Lines. This bumped Harley and the other musicians up from crew to second class passengers. When he was assigned to lead the band on the new RMS Titanic, Hartley was hesitant to leave his new fiancée, Maria Robinson. He decided the opportunity and contacts was too great an opportunity to pass on. Hartley’s body was found two weeks after the sinking. He is buried in Colne, England and a huge memorial stands there in his honor. Wallace Hartley

Theodore Ronald Brailey was born in 1887 in Essex, England. He was the pianist on the ship. He served for the Royal Lancashire Fusiliers regiment from 1902-1907 in Barbados. In 1911 and early 1912 he played on the RMS Saxonia, and RMS Carpathia. He was 24 at his death and his body was never recovered.

French cellist, Roger Marie Bricoux, was born in 1891 in rue de Donzy, Cosne-sur-Loire, France. His father was a musician and the family moved to Monaco when he was a young boy. He learned music in the Italian Catholic Church and Paris Conservatory and won a prize at the Conservatory of Bologna for musical ability. He served with Theodore Brailey on the RMS Carpathia. He was the only French musician on the Titanic. His twenty year old body was never found. France did not declare him legally deceased until the year 2000.

John Law Hume, violinist, was born in Dumfries, Scotland in 1890. He was better known by his nickname, Jock. He had a good reputation as a musician and had previous been on at least five other ships. He died at the age of 21 and his body was recovered. He was buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. A memorial was erected for him in his hometown of Dumfries. He had no idea that his fiancée was pregnant with his child {a daughter} when he died. After the sinking his father was sent a bill from C.W. & F.N. Black for the uniform. He never paid the fine.

The Titanic Band

Georges Alexandre Krins was born in Paris, France in 1889 and was the Titanic’s violinist. In Belgium, he won first prizes and was held in high distinction as a violinist. After a number of other positions, he played at London’s Ritz Hotel for two years before joining the Titanic. He was the leader of the trio that played in the A la Carte restaurant. He was 23 years old when he died and his body was not recovered.

John Frederick Preston Clarke played the bass violin and viola. He was from Liverpool. He was 35 when he perished and his body was picked up and buried at Halifax Nova Scotia.

Percy Cornelius Taylor played the piano and cello on board ship. He was from London and his body was not found.
Titanic Musicians Memorial

John Wesley Woodward was born in England in 1879 and played the cello. He had been playing music on White Star Line ships since 1909 and was on Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, when she collided in 1911 with the HMS Hawke. He was 32 years of age when he died.

Only the bodies of Wallace Hartley, John Law Hume and John Frederick Preston Clarke were recovered and identified. They were buried in the different cemeteries for Titanic victims. Wallace Hartley’s funeral was on the level of a State Funeral. Monuments have been erected and dedicated to several of these brave heroes.

More on songs played on the Titanic
More about Music on the Titanic