Band News 2004
The last of the popular big bandleaders, Artie Shaw, 94, died on December 30th at his home in Thousand Oaks, California. He was a brilliant clarinetist who's popularity was only rivaled by Miller, Goodman, James and the Dorsey Brothers. Complicated and moody, Shaw stopped playing in the 50's and never performed again. "He's very opinionated...and that's his right to be opinionated ... and he was a hell of a musician." 60's surf music pioneer and recording executive, Terry Melcher, 62, died from cancer on November 19. His mother is singer Doris Day. Broadway composer Cy Coleman, 75, who penned "Witchcraft," "Big Spender" and "The Best is Yet to Come" died of heart failure on Thursday, November 18. That's what's written on Sinatra's grave "The Best is Yet to Come." Musical star Howard Keel died on November 7. He was 85. Big band pianist/composer Joe Bushkin, 87, who played with Eddie Condon, Bunny Berigan, Tommy Dorsey (with Sinatra) and Benny Goodman, died from pneumonia on November 3rd. Boxer, "Baby Face" Jimmy McLarnin, 96, who fought in the 20's and 30's against Benny Leonard, Barney Ross and Tony Canzoneri among others died on October 28. Bandleader Lester Lanin, 97, passed away on October 27.
Ronnie Milsap is among the many established artists today tackling popular standards. His CD "Just For A Thrill" is out in time for the holidays. The first track is a 1-4-5 blues progression... but once that³s done... the CD really takes off. Lush orchestration... along with Milsap³s distinctive vocals, makes this CD enjoyable. He even tackles Johnnie Ray³s ÀCry”!
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield died on October 5th. He was 82. Actress (and sometimes Rat Packer) Janet Leigh, 77, died on October 3rd. WWII Radio host of "Reveille With Beverly, Jean Hay , 87, passed on September 18th. Broadway lyricist Fred Ebb suffered a fatal heart attack on September 11th.
Legendary composer Bernie Bierman celebrated his 96th birthday on Thursday, August 26th by performing onstage at Danny's Skylight Room in NYC before a room full of admirers. Here's a few photos from the event.
There will be a memorial for songwriter Billy Roy on Monday, September 13th at 2:00pm at the Players Club in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan, N.Y. Billy Roy was one of the great child actors in many Warner Brothers motion pictures including "The Corn Is Green" starring Bette Davis. He went on to become a Broadway composer (the musical "Maggie") and is probably best known in more recent years as the long time pianist/ conductor for the legendary Julie Wilson. Participants at the memorial will be Bernadette Peters, Julie Wilson, Margaret Whiting, Wayne Hosford, Gordon & Jane Connell, Don Dellair, Joyce Breach, Stephen Sondheim, Jackie Cain, Bobby Short, Neal Kenyon and others. All are welcome and no tickets of admission are required.
The historic cabins at the Cal-Neva, where Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe stayed, are in jeopardy of being flattened. Due to public outcry, the Cal-Neva is considering relocating them to another spot on the property and turning them into a museum attraction.
Guitarist Tony Mottola, who played with Sinatra died on August 9th. He was 86. Latin bandleader Don Tosti, 81, died on August 1st. Vaudeville comedian and former Stooge, Mousie Garner is dead at 95. Tenor saxophone player/ bandleader Illinois Jacquet suffered a heart attack on July 22. He was 81. Brando died of lung failure on Thursday, July 1st. He was 80.
James Arnold, 72, singer in the Four Lads died on June 15th from lung cancer. Special thanks to Don Dellair, who wrote this wonderful recollection ..."I was totally shocked to read in your column about the death of Jimmy Arnold of the Four Lads... we all started our careers together in Montreal in 1951...and Jimmy, Connie, Bernie, and Frankie and I were constant pals...at one time, Jimmy even went out on a date with my late sister, Arlene...the Lads and I were all about the same age, as well...Jimmy, as I'm sure you know, was the high tenor of the group...his voice always stood out because he was carrying the melody line in that beautiful high voice.. we had not been in touch for years and years...and I am so sorry to hear of his death....when we first met in Montreal in August of 1951.. the Four Lads were the opening act at the Normandie Roof of the Mount Royal Hotel.. the headliners, during that engagement, were Lucille and Eddie Roberts...they were a husband and wife team who did a fantastic mentalist act... at that time, the boys had already been the back-up singers for Johnnie Ray's recording of "Cry"...and so they were just beginning to go out on their own, when the guys and I met... and, as I mentioned, it was also my first job as the production singer at the Chez Paree...and, as a matter of fact, the first headliner that I got to introduce every night at the club was Alan King.... isn't it coincidental that Alan, as well as Jimmy Arnold, died within weeks of each other?"
Singer Ray Charles died on Thursday, June 10 from complications of liver disease. Among his hits were "Georgia On My Mind," "Hit the Road Jack" and "You Don't Know Me." He was 73.
The motion picture De-Lovely is out about songwriter Cole Porter starring Kevin Kline. Big band standards will be performed by Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Natalie Cole, Robbie Williams and new wave pioneer- turned -crooner Elvis Costello.
Actor Tony Randall is dead at 84. New York's borscht-belt comedian Alan King has died of cancer. He was 76.
Some new CDs out there: Harrison Marshall and his jazz trio perform standards in a mellow manner. Harrison sings a bit like John Pizzarelli. Another Californian, David Patrone performs Sinatra tunes with an orchestra in full swing. The arrangements are jazzier than the Sinatra versions. Also, a new release from the guy who pretty much single- handily (along with the creators of "When Harry Met Sally") brought big band music back in the 80's, with his usual unhurried, dulcet delivery, Harry Connick Jr. ... Speaking of composer - big bandleader Isham Jones ... besides penning Connick's hit "It had to Be You," he also wrote "I'll See You In My Dreams" which turns up at the end of the "Concert For George" CD/DVD. The ex-Beatle was a great fan of music from the 20's and 30's ... and singer Joe Brown, with ukulele in hand, gives that song as wonderful a treatment as Isham (and George) could ever have imagined. Curmudgeonly Isham Jones, who started his first big band in 1919 ... and died in 1956, would likely have been thrilled to know that yet another of his compositions is captivating new audiences ... AGAIN!
Harry Babbit, who sang with Kay Kyser's outfit died on April 9th. Harry sang on "On A Slow Boat to China" and "Who Wouldn't Love You." He was 90.
60's surf music pioneer Jan Berry of Jan & Dean, suffered a seizure and died on March 26th. He had been in poor health recently from lingering effects of brain damage from his auto accident nearly 40 years ago, when the top of his corvette was shaved off after crashing into a parked gardener's truck. He was 62.
Big Band leader Alvino Rey died on Tuesday, February 24th. Rey's electric guitar was featured with Horace Heidt's outfit before launching his own career along with wife, Luise, one of the King Sisters. He was 95.
One of the last of the great big band singers, Don Cornell, who sang with Red Nichols and Sammy Kaye, along with having a successful solo career in the 50's, died on Monday, February 23rd. He sang the hits "It Isn't Fair" and "I'm Yours" among many others. He was a dapper white-haired fellow with a powerful operatic sort of singing style, performing live shows until (at least) 2001. In a 1957 Copa review, Mr. Dana writes... "Don Cornell closes the evening with a big, rich voice and a sock delivery ... Cornell is amiable and establishes a close palship with the audience." Don Cornell resided in Florida. (near Perry Como's house) and was 84.
Songwriter Bart Howard, who wrote "Fly Me To The Moon" died on Saturday, February 19th. He was 88.
The Incomparable Hildegarde who resides in New York turned 98 on February 1, 2004. There was a big birthday bash on February 2nd honoring Hildegarde which took place at Danny's Skylight Room in New York. Don Dellair, who co-hosted the presentation with David Kenney wrote ..."the birthday bash exceeded our expectations ... it was absolutely magnificent ...very large turnout ... Margaret Whiting, Fran Warren, Mark Coffin, John Wallowitch, KT Sullivan, James Followell, Donald Smith, Michelle Pirret and 95 year old songwriter Bernie Bierman were all stand-outs .. the audio tape that Hildy made for David Kenney went over spectacularly... her opening line in her greeting to the audience was her usual opening line ..'yes..she's still here'.. and then proceeded to welcome everybody and then got the biggest laugh when she told the crowd...'I would have been there with all of you... but I got a better offer of a paying job'.. that line drew absolute howls.. she ended her little welcoming speech with the last 8 bars of "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup." Seen in the audience were Craig Rubano (new young cabaret and recording star).. the rising fashion designer Ricky Smithline... singer Cynthia Crane.. writer/director Jack Wrangler (married to Margaret Whiting).. impersonator Richard Skipper (his Carol Channing is hilarious!).. the esteemed entertainment attorney /manager Mark Sendroff... the best known manufacturers representative Dick Firestone (he originally put the pet-rock on our culture scene many years ago)... radio personality Lynn DiMenna ... radio icon Joe Franklin ... movie and stage producer Michael Alden .. and others." ... Well-wishers can contact Hildy by writing ...
The Incomparable Hildegarde!
New York, NY 10163-4116
Yes that's the whole address! Don't worry, it will get there. Here's a well researched biography on Hildegarde.
Pioneering talk show host Jack Paar died on January 27th. Paar hosted the Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962. He was 85.
Musical arranger, Billy May, who worked with Sinatra among others, died on January 22nd. He was 87.
Phillip Crosby, the last of Bing Cosby's four sons from his first marriage, was discovered dead on January 13th at the age of 69. He suffered a heart attack. Oldest brother Gary died from cancer in 1995 and youngest brother Lindsay had committed suicide years earlier, as did Phillip's twin brother, Dennis