Monday, September 19, 2011
BING CROSBY: A LEGENDARY CROONER
by Author Unknown
Although no one can seem to agree upon the date of his birth, most people agree that one of the biggest names in modern age music is Bing Crosby.
Harry Lillis Crosby was born sometime between 1901 and 1904 in Tacoma, Washington. The nickname “Bing” stuck from an early age and became one of the most well known names in musical history even today. Crosby was the forerunner and inspiration for many fellow “crooners” like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como. The age of “crooning” became popular through Crosby with only Rudy Valée contending for the title of “the first crooner.”
In 1948, Bing Crosby was dubbed the “most admired man alive” and broke never-before-seen record sales throughout the 1950′s. His first number one hit, “Ol Man River” in 1928, was a metaphorical hit from the Broadway musical Show Boat. Bing performed with several bands before going solo in the early 1930′s. The phrase “Bing is King” became synonymous with his unparalleled rise to musical stardom.
The “Old Groaner” or “Crooner” as Bing was also known, had a fan base that knew no age division. This is a paradigm rarely achieved by musical artist of today. Since that era, styles of music, and therefore musical artist, appeal to distinctive age groups. Crosby’s fans were of all ages, with the median age being 21 at the height of his career. By the early 1950′s, with the arrival of Rock and Roll, those lines of distinction were, and still are, most commonly generationally drawn. We associate Rap and Hip-Hop with teenagers, Classical Rock with baby-boomers, Easy Listening and Big Band with the Silent Generation. Of course there is some crossing over but not like what was seen in the 1930′s, 40′s and early 50′s. Bing’s popularity also crossed over many genres as well. He enjoyed success with jazz, big band, swing, traditional, and pop.
Musicals on the big screen were extremely popular during this era and Crosby became well known as a Hollywood actor as well as musical artist. Winning the Academy Award for his role as Father Chuck O’Malley in Going My Way in 1944, Crosby however, was probably best known for his “Road” films with Bob Hope during his career in movies. A banner year for Crosby; his recording of “Swinging on a Star” sold over a million copies in 1944.
So what made this whistling crooner such a huge musical icon? Bing sang it his way: soft, easy and laissez-faire. He definitely adopted the “whistle while you work” philosophy. He incorporated whistling into many of his songs with great success. Bing had a unique aesthetic quality about his voice. He could “…melt away the notes,” according to one musicologist. His seemingly effortless and melodic delivery captured the hearts of America and continued to do so generation after generation.
Through the depression and World War II, he became a symbol to a wounded nation. A symbol of unification and hope; people could identify with his easy way and his heartfelt songs. He sang of love, hope, pain, hardships, and family. He identified with the common man and through his manner of singing and acting, he was unintimidating to the everyday Joe.
His most well known hit, “White Christmas,” is still a standard of today. Introduced to the American public in 1942 on a radio broadcast and also in the hit movie Holiday Inn, it claimed the number one slot on the charts for 11 consecutive weeks. “White Christmas” still remains the top selling song of all time.
Crosby achieved success not only in music, radio, TV and movies; he was a savvy businessman and talented golfer as well. When Bing died on October 14th, 1977 at the age of 74, he left behind his second wife and seven children.
Legendary Crooners – Bing Crosby, A Man of Many Talents Who Had the World on a String...