Friday, October 14, 2016

OCTOBER 14, 1977

39 years ago, the music died for one of the most widely heard voices in history...

This article was originally published by the Daily News on October 15, 1977. This story was written by Amador Marin...

Madrid - Bing Crosby, the crooner of beautiful songs who dominated show business for three generations of lovers around the world, died here yesterday of a heart attack after completing a round of golf. "Der Bingle" was 73, and his death produced shock and grief among millions of devoted fans.

The end for the man with the gold baritone voice and relaxed, pipe-smoking humor came at the end of a 4 ½ - hour round of his beloved golf during which the great singer and actor was described as "happy and singing" - fresh from an acclaimed tour of Britain. He had come to Spain for a few days of rest and relaxation.

Crosby had been playing with three prominent Spanish golfers on the La Moraleja club course on the outskirts of Madrid, and the foursome had just left the 18th hole late in the afternoon. The four happy players were walking back to the clubhouse when Crosby was seized by a heart attack and slumped to the ground.

"We thought he had just slipped," said one of the Bing's playing comrades, Valentin Barrios, a champion Spanish golfer. "We took him to the clubhouse and he was given oxygen and cardiac tonic injections, but nothing could be done, Bing had shown no signs of fatigue. He was happy and singing as we went around the course."

Crosby, Barrios said, did not utter a sound as he fell to the turf.

"There were no last words," Barrios said.

It was about 6:30 p.m. on a warm sunny afternoon here when Crosby died. He was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in Madrid in an ambulance, but doctors there could do nothing. He was pronounced dead on arrival. "We carried him to the clubhouse, but it was already too late," said another member of the foursome, Manuel Pinero, the current Spanish golf champion.

"We were walking back to the clubhouse chatting and happy that we had won," Pinero said last night, as he recalled how he and Crosby had defeated Barrios and another Spanish golfer, Cesar de Zulueta, president of La Moraleja club.

Crosby's last game of golf was good. "Bing played better than Thursday, when he shot 92," Barrios told reporters...

Monday, October 10, 2016


Guest reviewer Bruce Kogan is back to take a look at the forgotten 1940 musical gem - Rhythm On The River...

Poor Basil Rathbone, an egotistical composer who's lost his muse. He's been faking it for some time, buying his lyrics and his music from various sources. Trouble is that two of the sources (Bing Crosby music) and (Mary Martin words) happen to meet and fall in love. And then they discover what they've been doing. Complications ensue, but all is righted at the end.

Crosby and Martin sing terrifically. Mary had signed a Paramount contract and also at the same time doubled as a regular on Crosby's Kraft Music Hall Radio Show. For reasons I don't understand, movie audiences didn't take to her, so she went back to Broadway and did One Touch of Venus in 1944 and stayed there.

Basil Rathbone in one of the few times he played comedy does it very well. His ego is constantly being deflated by sidekick Oscar Levant and again I'm surprised they didn't do more films together.

As in most of Crosby's Paramount vehicles, no big production numbers, but the title tune being done as an impromptu jam session in a pawn shop is cinematic gold. It shows what great rhythm Bing had. Good job by all.

Billy Wilder is co-credited for the story, and his unsentimental touch is noticeable in this quite original tale of ghostwriting songwriters who both work for burnt-out music legend Oliver Courtney. The obvious misunderstandings are gotten out of the way quite quickly, thank heaven, and what remains is a witty and breezy concoction with some fine songs (and some more forgettable ones).

Crosby at his most charming, a great turn by Broadway legend Mary Martin and Basil Rathbone and Oscar Levant providing most of the cynical barbs (Levant is in rare form and his quips haven't dated at all). Martin's singing gives hope and question to the ironic fact that she never scored in movies, given four years to try and make it at Paramount before giving up and returning to Broadway where she had greater luck. Crosby is his easy going self as usual, dropping deadpan lines like a dog with a bone after realizing that nothing else remained to gnaw on. A delightful surprise, and recommended for all fans of the genre.

A surprisingly original plot and great entertainment...


Monday, October 3, 2016


Born Wilma Winifred Wyatt, she adopted the professional name "Dixie Carroll" as a singer and showgirl. Winfield Sheehan of the Fox film studio changed the name to Dixie Lee, to avoid confusion with actresses Nancy Carroll and Sue Carol. She married Bing Crosby at the age of 18, and had four sons with him, all of them battled alcoholism as Dixie did.

Crosby's biographer, Gary Giddins, describes Dixie Lee as a shy, private person with a sensible approach to life. Giddins recounts that Dixie and Bing, as young marrieds, were often invited to parties where liquor was plentiful, and Dixie drank socially to keep up with Bing. She succeeded in curbing Bing's alcohol consumption, but ironically her own alcoholism worsened. She had a brief film career, starring in a few features for Bing's home studio Paramount Pictures in the 1930s; her most notable film is probably Love in Bloom (1935).

The two first met in November 1928 and Bing was immediately smitten. Dixie was a bit more hesitant. They met again at a party in Hollywood in early 1929 and the Crosby charm was too much to resist. The two married September 29, 1930, at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood. 

As Bing's stardom rose to superstar status in the 1930s, four boys arrived in the Crosby household. Gary Crosby arrived first in October 1933, the twins, Phillip and Dennis came along in 1934, and Lindsay rounded out the bunch in 1938.

However, despite her husband's fame and the four boys, Dixie was very tortured with what modern doctors would diagnose as depression. In the 1940s, Bing Crosby was one of the most recognizable men in the world, and with this fame he spent more and more time away from his family. As a result, Dixie was turning more and more towards alcohol.

In 1947, a movie came out called Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman starring Susan Hayward. It was a thinly disguised story based on the life of Dixie. It was directed by Stuart Heisler, who had directed Bing in Blue Skies the year before. Bing and Dixie were outraged at the film, and it further brought tension to their lives together.

Bing attempted to divorce Dixie following World War II to marry actress Joan Caulfield. The Catholic hierarchy denied Bing's request, and Caulfield was sent packing. In 1952 Bing learned that Dixie was dying of ovarian cancer while he was in France filming Little Boy Lost. She died Nov. 1, 1952, a week after his return home and three days before her 41st birthday. Bing's children and friends noted that Bing was devastated by his wife's death, despite their close encounters with divorce. Despite eventually remarrying in 1957, others close to Bing say he never recovered from the death of Dixie, who was there with him since the beginning of his rise to super stardom. Dixie Lee was definitely the woman behind the man, depite her demons...

Monday, September 26, 2016



              ARNOLD PALMER (1929-2016)

Monday, September 19, 2016


The 1960s was a decade of change in Bing Crosby's life. For three decades, Bing was the biggest star in the history of entertainment. Now with the dawn of rock 'n' roll, Bing was suddenly a relic of a bygone era. Meanwhile, Bing had a younger family so he moved away from the front of the entertainment world to raise this new second family. However, here are some Bing photos from the 1960s, which showed Bing at the age of 57-66...

Bing dressed in drag for HIGH TIME (1960)


With Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope from the last Road movie - THE ROAD TO HONG KONG

With Maurice Chevalier on Bing's TV special

Friday, September 2, 2016


In June of 1931 the head of CBS radio, William Paley, heard Bing's recording of I Surrender Dear while aboard a ship to Europe and ordered him signed to a radio contract. Despite warnings of Bing's playboy reputation CBS signed Bing to an unsponsored daily 15-minute broadcast for a remarkable sum of $1500 a week -- equivalent to more than $20,000 in 2015 dollars. Bing was scheduled to debut in a live CBS network radio show on Monday, August 31, 1931. Bing arrived hoarse for an afternoon rehearsal at the New York studios of CBS. After 3 hours CBS decided to cancel the evening premier because of Bing's worsening laryngitis.

After a second postponement, Bing finally made his network debut on Wednesday, Sept. 2, accompanied by the CBS Studio Orchestra, which included Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti and Jerry Colonna on trombone. His first song was, appropriately, Just One More Chance. To conclude the broadcast he sang I'm thru with Love. Bing did not talk during the 15-minute broadcast. The announcer, Harry Von Zell, explained that Bing had missed the previous two shows because of laryngitis. Bing's network radio debut was recorded by rival network NBC, who signed Russ Columbo to compete with Bing, but only a portion of the broadcast is known to exist today as an aircheck from a Los Angeles radio station, KHJ.

According to broadcast historian Elizabeth McLeod:
"I wish that BMG would look in their vaults to see if there's any trace of the 16-inch matrix for the first Crosby broadcast, of 9/2/31. RCA Victor in Hollywood recorded the entire 15 minute show on a 16 inch master, and two of the individual songs on 78rpm masters. Only the 78rpm excerpts are known to have survived. I know the matrix number of the 16 inch platter -- PMVE

 -- but I've never been able to determine what became of this recording. It was made for NBC -- apparently they were interested in checking up on the competition!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


On February 4, 1967 - Bing Crosby was appearing with underrated husband and wife talents Phil Harris and Alice Faye on the TV variety program "Hollywood Palace". Those were the days...

Monday, August 22, 2016


With nearly (but not every Bing recording) almost available in one form or another, I thought it would be fun to revisit a more simpler time, when Bing fans had to rely on bootleg records or 3rd generation cassette tapes for their fill of rare Bing material. One man that helped to bring great Bing Crosby radio recordings to the foreground was Eddie Rice. Younger Bing collectors may not recognize the name, but us "old timers" sure do!

The Rice tapes were also the source of 3 JSP LP´s(Bing Crosby In The Thirties),that were issued between 1984 to 86 by Geoff Milne with transfers and engeneering by Dave Bennett and John R. T. Davis from the Derek Parkes collection.The sound is good. Even better are the CD A Bing Crosby Calvacade Of Song(Festival-Interfusion also taken from Trotter acetates (Rice tapes?) and was mastered by David Carrington.

How Eddie Rice get to the "Rice tapes":

"...But he is a collector with a difference.When he began to rebuild his collection (His first collection Eddie sold financing the medical treatment for one of his parents) a mutual friend gave Ed Rice the address of John Scott Trotter, Bing´principal music director and orchestra leader. Rather than waste time writing letters, Ed impulsively drove to Trotter´s address and knocked on the door .Each discovered that the other was sincerely devoted to the music of Bing Crosby and they became great friends. Once during a visit Ed asked John Scott Trotter if he ever kept reference recordings of the Kraft Music Hall and was thrilled to learn that most had been kept .In fact, he was told, the reference recordings were beneath their feet,stored away in a crawl space under the floor boards! John Scott took his friend around to a small access door. In an instant his guest was under the floor where he discovered dusty stacks of acetate recordings;mostly 10" mixed with a few 12" records.

He carried an armload back into the apartment and looked over them carefully .Their labels were blank white with date notations and a few song titles scribbled on them. As Ed sorted, John Scott explained how he had used them to compare musical passages or review a number with Bing they planned to repeat.Most were Bing solos with bits of dialogue before and after with cast and guests.Few collectors had ever been in such a remarkable position! Rice asked his friend if he might borrow and copy the material onto tape.Trotter hesitated only because the music on them was now old fashioned. He and Bing were into modern arrangements.In fact,Trotter had been considering donating them to a university anxious to use them as study-resource material. Ed Rice continues:

"well I was exited of course and concerned too.I asked John Scott to consider that the material represented a great opportunity to share and preserve this once very popular style of orchestral composition.Since Bing had a legion of followers,these people too would be greatly enriched with copies of such material on a no cost basis.It seemed to me that preservation would be ensured among Bing´s friends in the collecting society around the world.I argued that the material could still be made available on a non-exclusive basis to a university but should not be limited to that.We talked many times about this and finally he generously agreed. I can still remember John Scott Trotter´s response,´Alright Eddie,take them home,put them on tape.`

For the next several months,I guess it was well into 1963, I spent most of my free time copying out the soft acetate recordings,the test or reference recordings. Most of the 500 were clear enough to tape although some had a few technical faults. I also compiled a list detailing all the known information such as broadcast,rehearsal dates,support musicians,titles and voices.I sent this along to fellow collectors knowing these would be copied endlessly.I expected this.Even the list I compiled has now become a kind of classic publication distributed among Bing´s admirers.Over the years that followed I´ve noticed some of the songs appear on óldtime´radio broadcasts and records.And I´m happy about it!Here he is still young as,so very lightly,he sang those ten years of Kraft Thursdays.Perhaps never again would Bing Crosby sing quite so easily and carefree as on those wonderful radio programmes.

As a collector the most exiting time in my career was to be invited by Bing Crosby himself to put his personal record collection in library order.....""

(Sheldon O´Connell:Bing-A Voice For All Seasons)

Eddie Rice sadly died in 2006 at the age of 91...

Monday, August 15, 2016


When I first discovered this album in the early 1990s when I was beginning my acquiring of everything Bing, I had high hopes for the album. I am a big fan of both Bing and Count Basie. The album was sort of a let down, but it is worth a listen to...

Bing 'n' Basie is a 1972 vinyl album recorded for Daybreak Records by Bing Crosby, accompanied by Count Basie and his Orchestra. The orchestral tracks were laid down over three days at the end of February and the beginning of March, 1972 at Amigo Studios, North Hollywood. Crosby added his voice to the pre-recorded orchestral tracks during three sessions on March 14, 15 and 16, 1972 at Coast Recorders Studio, Bush Street, San Francisco. Bing Crosby also added his voice to "If I Had A Hammer" and while this has appeared on pirate issues it has never been commercially released.

The album was issued on CD by EmArcy Records (824 705-2) in 1988.

Howard Lucraft writing in Variety commented:"Interesting that Bing sounds better today to many than in his Paul Whiteman days over 40 years ago when his keys were about a third higher. He could be more adventurous range-wise back then. He used to feature ‘Old Man River’ in D flat, going to a top F. On this new LP wisely tunes are mainly up-tempo. Crosby reportedly sang to tracks prerecorded by the Basie band. Sam Nestico’s charts are swinging. Something should have been done about that final top D flat on ‘Put Your Hand in the Hand’. Otherwise album is highly effective - simple with charm. The slower ‘Sugar, Don’t You Know’ by Louis Bellson is a great new number."

Down Beat said: "This release is likely to do considerably more for Crosby’s reputation than for Basie’s. That’s usually the way it works when a jazz group teams with a popular vocalist. On the other hand, it is Crosby’s reputation that is in considerably greater need of a boost than Basie’s, so perhaps in the long run it’s a fair shake for everyone... (Crosby) is in fine voice all the way, and the choice of material is from among the best contemporary tunes, excepting two ringers (Hangin’, Day), which are the sort of nonentities that singers use to open TV variety specials."

Track listing:

1. "Gentle on My Mind" John Hartford 3:45
2. "Everything Is Beautiful" Ray Stevens 3:19
3. "Gonna Build a Mountain" Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley 2:36
4. "Sunrise, Sunset" Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick 2:43
5. "Hangin' Loose" Sammy Nestico, Johnny Mercer 2:32
6. "All His Children" Henry Mancini, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman 3:01

7. "Put Your Hand in the Hand" Gene MacLellan 3:12
8. "Snowbird" Gene MacLellan 2:56
9. "Little Green Apples" Bobby Russell 3:15
10. "Sugar, Don't You Know" Peggy Lee, Louis Bellson, Jack Hayes 3:23
11. "Have a Nice Day" Sammy Nestico. Johnny Mercer 2:55