Monday, December 31, 2012

BING AND 2012


Hard to believe it is the end of another year. This year was very mixed I believe for Bing Crosby fans. October 14, 2012 marked an unbelievable 35 years since Der Bingle last sang for us, and unfortunately it was barely reported on. Bing Crosby Enterprises, which is run by the Crosby family continues to provide an informative website of their own, full of audio and video gems. However, no new Crosby items were released for sale to the general public. There have been some hints, but nothing concrete to report on. Another release that did not happen in 2012 was the issue of Gary Giddins second book on Bing Crosby. It is reportedly near completion, although I can not get a confirmation from Giddins himself or his publisher.

The chronological series on the Sepia label has sadly come to an end. However, Sepia promises more Bing issues in the future. Their next issue will come in February of 2013 and will be the soundtrack to Say One For Me and The Road To Hong Kong - both soundtracks were better than the actual movies. Other than that issue, I am not sure what else will come out. Hopefully more songs from Bing's vast amount of radio shows will be issued.

2012 saw the issue of High Time (1960) on Blu Ray. Unfortunately it was not issued on conventional DVD format, so I did not purchase the rare and underrated Bing movie gem. Other than another "ghost" appearance with young crooner Michael Buble on his television special and iTunes issue, not much else to report on in 2012.

On a personal note, my step father of 20 years passed away. While he was not a Bing Crosby fan, he did help me with my Bing collection early on. Before he married my Mom, he had Cinemax at his house, and he taped me the film We're Not Dressing (1934) since at the time it was not on video. He watched the whole movie and other than Bing's singing he said the movie was unwatchable. It always became a joke between us that We're Not Dressing was his favorite movie. My stepfather was 59, and I continue to miss him but appreciate him taping the old Bing movie for me.

Thank you everyone for continuing to visit this little Bing Crosby blog. Since I started the blog in January of 2010 I have made many friends, and I hope this blog will continue to inform and entertain in 2013. May each and everyone of you have a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

BING AND MICHAEL BUBLE'S MOM



Michael Buble may have had the best-selling festive album last year  but it's Bing Crosby's music his family plays to get into the Christmas spirit.
The Canadian crooner topped the festive charts at the end of 2011 with his holiday compilation Christmas, and the release continues to dominate the yule gift market this year but the singer admits his mum Amber would rather listen to the classics.

He tells Britain's Daybreak talk show, "There's one record in the house and that's Bing Crosby's Christmas record. You know, I try to force a little Elvis Presley on them but it's pretty much my mother - it's all about Bing and that is a tradition we've had since we were kids. It was always playing. I mean, come July, I loved Christmas music so much that I think I was still singing, 'It's Christmas in Killarney, it's wonderful to see...

SOURCE

Monday, December 24, 2012

REWATCHING WHITE CHRISTMAS

Here is yet another great reflection on Bing's career. No one like Steve Fay can weave his words around in such an interesting and thought provoking manor...


Not having cable or satellite TV, I have gotten more and more used to movies becoming a rarity on American broadcast TV, and consequently I expect to see fewer older movies on the stations I get. With the holiday season, a few Christmas-related movies have been showing so far, but they are either ones from the last 10-15 years or they are cartoon features. It's not like the old days when two or three stations would repeat each of the major Christmas movies from the 1940s & 50s. To watch those, we have resort to our tapes and DVDs. So this past Saturday night became "White Christmas" night at our house.

There are probably not many films I have watched as many times as "White Christmas," so obviously all of the scenes and songs are intensely familiar, yet I still get choked up at the end when the stage backdrop rises to show the snow falling, and in those moments when Rosie's and Bing's characters fall back in love. The drama of the old general and his former troops' devotion to him still affects me, too. Then there are the seasonal songs, and not just the title song, but also "Snow" which still deserves more radio play than I ever think it got.


But there are also occasionally new or surprisingly-deepening impressions that come along in these later viewings. One particularly strong one is how great Danny Kaye's singing and dancing are in the song: "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing." The effortlessly-looking high spins around those posts are quite amazing. Another thing that stood out for me Saturday was just how good Rosemary Clooney was, not just her great singing, but how convincing she was with all of the attitudes and emotional states her character travels through. And then how she is entirely lovely in the scene that included the "Count Your Blessings." What a shame that she and Bing didn't do another movie together.

Another impression came through to me more than in the past, too, and that was about Bing's own dancing ability. While he certainly could have been upstaged by co-stars like Astaire, O'Connor, or Kaye, Bing always seemed to hold his own in dance scenes with their lot. He might not look like he could be as light on his feet as they were, but he matched them step for step, unless he didn't for comic effect. While it rarely seems to get mentioned, Bing Crosby is quite a competent hoofer! I wonder what kind of effort went into keeping him on his toes so well.


A cultural issue also came to mind in my watching this time, about how different the impression of the US military was in post-WWII films like "White Christmas." Then the US had a 'civilian' army. The great majority signing up or drafted for that War, assuming they survived, were only there on temporary assignment from their lives at home. Some of their sloppiness or unruliness, joked about in this movie, comes from their not being career soldiers like General Waverly, who managed a great deal of tolerance toward them in leading them. But now, after decades of a 'professional' all-volunteer army, in which troops serve many enlistments, even several tours of duty in wars longer than WWII, I wonder whether today's soldiers are as able to identify with that image of WWII soldiers, even as much as Vietnam era soldiers were able to do?

In any case, "White Christmas" seems to offer more to appreciate and to ponder...


SOURCE

Friday, December 21, 2012

A LETTER FROM BING

Here is a letter that Bing wrote to his musical director John Scott Trotter on May 9, 1954. It is an unusually open Bing, and it says a lot about Bing as a person... 


Dear John,

Please excuse the long delay between receipt of your letter of August 24 and my reply thereto. Too many golf tournaments and too much fishing up here, I guess, for one to pay the proper attention to one’s correspondence.

First, in connection with Gary, I think that he did make remarkable progress in the 13-week period just concluded. A lot of people don’t realise just how little experience he had in the past. Outside of the appearances with me and the three or four records he made, he had absolutely no experience in front of the public or recording or on the radio. In school, contrary to what most kids with a little talent are accustomed to do - he didn’t participate at all in amateur theatricals or the university productions. This I deplore of course, but there seems to be little I can do about it. He tells me that the boys around the fraternity house consider anybody a square who in any way indulges in campus activities or assumes student offices. A whole new philosophy seems to have developed since I went to school. In order to be attractive now, apparently, a kid must be a complete clod. Of course if a boy gets very good marks and likes to study and shows an interest in the course that he is taking, he is utterly loathsome. 



I think your suggestion about him working a little on tone production and singing to a tape machine is a very good one. Ampex owes me just such a machine, and I may grab it and have it sent up to him this fall. I don’t know whether he’d ever plug it in or not, but it’s an experiment that’s worth a try. Doubtless the fraternity would pick up his pin if he ever demonstrated such unique interest in the career he intended to pursue when he got out of college. Of course I am determined that he should complete his college course, if it takes two years. Getting him into Stanford was quite a chore, and keeping him there has been an even more onerous assignment, and I certainly am not about to let him blow it with only a year or so to go. It’s my belief that he can still keep in the public eye and keep in action through the medium of phonograph records, if they go at all.

I of course, John, feel pretty sad about not going back on the radio this season. I have given many reasons for this decision to many different people, but I feel I can tell you the truth and that you will believe and understand me. John, I don’t sing anywhere as good as I used to, and I feel sincerely that it’s getting worse. I don’t see any purpose in trying to stretch something out that was once acceptable and that now is merely adequate, if that. I don’t know what the reason for this condition is, unless it’s apathy. I just don’t have the interest in singing. I am not keen about it any more. Songs all sound alike to me, and some of them so shoddy and trivial. I don’t mean I didn’t sing some cheap songs in the old days, but I had such a tremendous interest in singing and was so wrapped up in the work that it didn’t matter. . . . The sycophants that hang about, the press, the photographers, the song publishers and pluggers and the pests of all descriptions that grab me every time I step outside my front door weary me indescribably. Succinctly, John, I seem to have had it. Maybe a year or so away will make me feel differently, and my interest will revive.

I certainly hate to see the wonderful organisation we have break up, and it gives me a wrench to be an instrument in its dissolution. I shall never forget all the good years you and I had together, and all the wonderful unselfish things you did for me and my interests. You had a great deal to put up with at times, and your patience and forbearance was always incredible. You must know how grateful I am to you for everything that you have done. And I don’t mean just professionally either. Much of the same goes to Murdo. There’s a great boy, and I think the radio industry should prepare some sort of a plaque or citation for him for just putting up with Morrow through the years, if putting up with me wasn’t enough. I’ll be back in Pebble Beach after the 21st of the month, John, and probably will stay around there for a couple of weeks, and then will be on into Hollywood. If you are in the Carmel area be sure and give me a ring and we can get together. My very best to you.

As ever,
Bing


Monday, December 17, 2012

BING AND DAVID BOWIE


Bing and Bowie—The Story Behind the Song—Peace on Earth and Little Drummer Boy
By Gary Shannon 3 days ago

It was in September of 1977 that Bing Crosby began filming what would be his last Christmas special. Bing, whose recording of “White Christmas” was, and still is, the best selling record of all time, had become a sort of symbol of Christmas and his yearly Christmas TV specials were always a big favorite.

As was the custom back then, stars like Bing Crosby or Andy Williams would always include a contemporary artist as one of the special guest. Exactly how that year’s special guest came to be David Bowie is a mystery. Someone in Crosby’s stable must have thought it would be a unique idea to have Bowie teamed with Bing.

The duet between host and guest star was a standard in those days. The problem was, that Bowie didn’t like the song, “Little Drummer Boy.” So, plan “B” went into action and thus was born a very famous duet.

When Bowie announced he didn’t really want to sing “Little Drummer Boy”, production on the filming of the special went into emergency mode. The task of writing something Bowie might like fell to composers Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman and Alan Kohan.

Legend has it that the trio of composers went to the NBC studio piano and wrote the song “Peace on Earth”, to be sung as a counter-point melody with “Little Drummer Boy.” They played the song for Bowie who gave it his approval and one hour later the cameras rolled and history, of a sort, was made.

The response to the duet was fantastic. A bootleg copy of the performance made it’s way to radio and the song has been played annually since then.

I’ve heard that Bing enjoyed the duet with Bowie. Many people have wondered if Bing Crosby was even aware of Bowie as a performer. One insider told an interviewer that Crosby was still up on music and no doubt knew who Bowie was even if he learned from his kids.

Kind of sad to say that Bing never got to see this Christmas Special. One month after the show was filmed, Bing Crosby died of a heart attack on a golf course in Spain...

SOURCE

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BING AND HIS DENIM TUXEDO


In 1951 famous actor/singer Bing Crosby tried to check in at a Vancouver, British Columbia hotel. He was in hunting clothes and sported an unkempt appearance - Crosby was on the tail end of a hunting trip. The clerk pursed his lips, lifted his nose into the air and slowly scanned down the man and decided one of the most well known entertainers in the world was a common bum. He would not allow Bing to register as a guest.

Bing told the clerk, "I'm sorry I didn't bring my blue serge suit. I haven't worn it since high school and it probably wouldn't fit anyway."

Bob Hope, a close friend who made several popular movies with Crosby, later gave the hotel clerk a small part in one of his movies because "he knew how to recognize a bum."

Back in Elko, Silver State Stampede members saw a way to get some great publicity for the big rodeo and for Elko. After all, Crosby had been Honorary Mayor of Elko since 1948. Besides, he was a local rancher up at North Fork when he wasn't busy back in Hollywood.

Levi Straus Company in San Francisco was asked by the Stampede committee to make two Levi tuxedos - one for Crosby, the other for Elko Mayor Dave Dotta. Plans called for Elko to celebrate "Blue Serge Day" on June 30, 1951 during the Silver State Stampede.


They were beauties. The double breasted tuxedos were, of course, traditional dark blue denim. Lapels were light blue and each jacket had a red boutonniere made of Levi's red tags. Inside the coats were leather labels signed by the president of the American Hotel Association, D.J. O'Brien, that insured the mayor and Bing of lodging registration anywhere in nation.

Crosby shrugged into his tuxedo, buttoned it, and declared, " Hell's fire, ain't that a wizard!"

Both garments are on exhibit at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko...

SOURCE



Saturday, December 8, 2012

BING CROSBY AND OTHER SINGERS

Bing Crosby was definitely a singer's singer. Many of his peers and people that came after Bing idolized and looked up to him. Here are some quotes from other singers and what they thought about Bing...

EDDY ARNOLD:
"Bing was fantastic. I have many, many of his records today. He recorded so many of the country songs like "You Are My Sunshine," "It Makes No Difference Now," "Walkin' the Floor Over You." He recorded the first hit I ever had [Just a Little Lovin']. On and on and on. And he did them straight. He never made fun of them. He always did 'em in a melodic way. And, of course, the songs became well known because of his popularity. The songs took on the popularity of the whole country. Do you know who was Winston Churchill's favorite singer and song during World War II? It was Bing Crosby's record of "You Are My Sunshine." (Eddy Arnold: An Inside Look, interviewed by Ralph Emery, TNN, 1991.)

TONY BENNETT:
"Just imagine something five times stronger than the popularity of Elvis Presley and the Beatles put together. Bing Crosby dominated all of the airwaves. He was the only guy who had hour shows on radio stations, where other artists would just have one record played." (PBS interview, 1999)


ROSEMARY CLOONEY:
"Over the years Bing and I have done movies together, recordings, radio, television -- the whole entertainment circle.... The best way to get along with Bing was to forget first of all that he was Bing Crosby. It was not always easy. I know that every now and then something would strike me when we were working together -- the tilt of his pipe or the set of his hat -- the Crosby image -- and I'd say to myself, "What the hell am I doing singing here with Bing Crosby?" (Clooney, This for Remembrance, p232)

SAMMY DAVIS JR:
"I'm working with three of the biggest guys in the business -- so I can't wait for the first day when we all get around the piano to rehearse a song called 'Mr Booze.' In this there are so many Crosbyisms, all the things that we and millions of people have loved him for. And I'm standing there, and I missed my cue five times because I'm watching him. Frank [Sinatra] said, "What the hell is wrong with you?" I said "To hell with you, Frank, I'm listening to Bing Crosby!" Everybody just broke up."


PEGGY LEE:
"He took me out to dinner once and I got up nerve enough to tell him about how I felt at one movie when he didn't get the girl. I was so in sympathy with him that when he sang this song 'Down by the River' I cried and cried. So he pretended that we were sort of sightseeing in San Francisco and we went around to different little bistros until finally he found a pianist who knew the song and Bing sang it especially for me."

MEL TORME:
"In 1975 he invited me and my family to lunch at his home just outside of San Francisco. Mary Frances and Harry, Bing's kids, were on hand as well as Kathryn, and it was a funny, jolly, loving luncheon, full of stories and remembrances. After lunch, Bing, sans hairpiece, asked Harry to go get his guitar. We adjourned to the music room, and, just like that, Bing sat down and began to sing. He did about eight tunes, invited me to join him, which I did, and that's the way the afternoon went .... That night he brought the whole family to the Fairmont, sat at a front table (still sans toupee), and stayed through my whole performance. I never quite got over that." (Torme, My Singing Teachers, p19)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SPOTLIGHT ON JOHN SCOTT TROTTER

Bing's musical director during his hey-day was an easy-going mountain of a man, John Scott Trotter. Trotter weighed in at 12 pounds when he was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1908. As an adult he weighed nearly 300 pounds. Trotter's professional music career began at the University of North Carolina in 1925 when he became pianist and arranger for a college band led by Hal Kemp.

Trotter's chance for national fame came 12 years later in 1937. Bing was hosting the Kraft Music Hall with Jimmy Dorsey conducting the orchestra. Kraft insisted that the show include a concert spot of classical music, and Dorsey was having difficulty delivering an acceptable product. He gracefully left the show. In searching for a new musical director, Crosby asked his songwriter friend, Johnny Burke, about the arranger for singer Skinnay Ennis of the Hal Kemp Orchestra. Burke told him "John Scott Trotter." Crosby said "Get him."

Trotter was tracked down in New York and offered the job as Crosby's orchestra leader. Trotter accepted, and took over for Dorsey on the 8 July 1937 broadcast. Soon he was arranging and conducting for Crosby's Decca recordings as well. Their first Decca session was the up-tempo It's the Natural Thing to Do, recorded July 12, 1937.

Carroll Carroll, chief writer on the Kraft show, recalled Trotter's massive volume and appetite:

"Trotter, a monolith of a man, stood astride pop and 'long hair' music, as it was then called, like a colossus, and occasionally flew from Hollywood to New Orleans for the weekend (something not done often in the thirties) just to cater to his gourmet tastes with a decent plate of oysters Rockefeller. During the war, when home economist M.F.K. Fisher was a guest on the show to plug her wartime conservation cookbook, How to Cook a Wolf, she told Bing that her book explained how to use leftovers. The heartily-fed Trotter stepped to the mike and, in his most polite and gentle North Carolina drawl, asked, 'Pardon me, ma'am, but what are left-overs?'" (from The Old Time Radio Book by Ted Sennett, p70)
                            

Trotter arranged and conducted for Crosby for 17 years. During that time several members of his orchestra went on to greater fame. Jerry Colonna (1905-86) was Trotter's trombonist when his comedic skills were discovered. While playfully singing "On the Road to Mandalay" with Trotter at the organ, Colonna began on a high note reminiscent of an air raid siren and went up from there. The next week he was featured as the guest 'concert star' on the Kraft show. Soon Colonna joined Bob Hope's radio show as his comedy side-kick.

Trotter hired Spike Jones (1911-65) in 1937 to beat the drums in his orchestra. Jones became a celebrity during World War II when he moonlighted on a novelty song called "Der Fuhrer's Face." The song became such a hit that Jones left the Trotter orchestra late in 1942 to make a career for himself as conductor of a not-so-serious band, the City Slickers. Jones' raucous sound was invented by Trotter's orchestra to accompany (and cover) the dischordant notes of comedian Bob Burns on the bazooka. Later Jones and his City Slickers returned as guests on the Crosby show. After the City Slickers accompanied Bing on a song, Crosby was heard to say, "John Scott, don't ever leave me!"


Trotter remained as Crosby's musical director until 1954. Their last recording together was "In the Good Old Summertime" in May. That summer Bing decided to end his big-budget radio variety show and with it went his need for a full-time musical director. Bing wrote Trotter on Sept. 9: "I certainly hate to see the wonderful organization we have break up, and it gives me a wrench to be an instrument in its dissolution. I shall never forget all the good years you and I had together, and all the wonderful unselfish things you did for me and my interests. You had a great deal to put up with at times, and your patience and forbearance was always incredible. You must know how grateful I am to you for everything that you have done."

Trotter moved on to television, becoming musical director for the George Gobel show from 1954-60. He remained friends with Bing and was a frequent visitor to Bing's home, even helping redecorate Bing's San Francisco mansion. Trotter served as musical director of several of Bing's TV specials as well as his 1964-65 ABC situation comedy, The Bing Crosby Show. Later he directed the music for the Charlie Brown cartoon specials. In 1970 Trotter was nominated for an Oscar and a Grammy for his musical score for the movie "A Boy Named Charlie Brown."

Bing once said of Trotter, "I'm not musically educated enough to really describe what he was in music terms. I just knew he was very good and he had marvellous taste."

Trotter died of cancer October 30, 1975, a month after arranging a Boston Pops special for PBS...

Friday, November 30, 2012

WHITE CHRISTMAS OUTDOOR SHOWING


In celebration of actor Danny Kaye’s centennial, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will screen the holiday classic "White Christmas" (1954) at Oscars Outdoors in Hollywood on Thursday, December 6, and Friday, December 7, at 7 p.m. Special guests include Dena Kaye, Mary Crosby and Monsita Ferrer Botwick, the daughters of Kaye, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, respectively. Hollywood special effects wizards are predicting a 100 percent chance of snow at the open-air theater on the Academy Hollywood campus, bringing the evening to a dramatic conclusion. December marks the start of the celebration of Danny Kaye’s centennial, a year of festivities across the country spotlighting the legendary entertainer and humanitarian.

Directed by Michael Curtiz with songs by Irving Berlin, "White Christmas" tells the story of song-and-dance team Bob Wallace and Phil Davis (Crosby and Kaye), two World War II veterans who team up with sister act Betty and Judy Haynes (Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to raise money for a struggling Vermont inn run by Bob and Phil’s former commanding general. The film earned an Oscar® nomination for the original song "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," music and lyrics by Berlin.

Tickets to "White Christmas" are $5 for the general public, free for children 10 years and younger, and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Seating is unreserved. Tickets for Friday’s screening are sold out, and tickets for Thursday night are available online at oscars.org/outdoors. Gates open at 6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring low lawn chairs, blankets and warm clothing. Hot chocolate and holiday treats will be available for sale from some of Los Angeles’s most popular food trucks. Picnic baskets, beer and wine are permitted.

The Academy Hollywood campus is located at 1341 Vine Street in Hollywood (between De Longpre Avenue and Fountain Avenue, and between Vine Street and Ivar Avenue). The campus is accessible via the Metro Red Line train and the Metro Local 210 bus. Free parking is located behind the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. Enter from Homewood Avenue off Vine Street, one block north of Fountain Avenue. The lot opens 90 minutes prior to the event and closes 30 minutes afterwards. For additional information, visit oscars.org/outdoors or call (310) 247-3600...


SOURCE



Monday, November 26, 2012

BING AND THE QUEEN MARY


TODAY IN QUEEN MARY HISTORY: BING CROSBY WEEPS BEFORE LADY LIBERTY
By Greater Long Beach

KadyCee submitted this vintage news story, originally reported by the Associated Press on Nov. 10, 1944, to the RMS Queen Mary blog reported this day in 1944:
HOLLYWOOD (AP)–Hollywood’s wandering minstrel, Bing Crosby, was home today after a four-months tour of England and the battlefronts of France.

Nothing El Bingo saw abroad touched him so deeply, he says, as the spectacle he witnessed as his troopship, the former Queen Mary, brought war-weary, wounded and spent young American soldiers to their native soil for the first time in three years.

“As we steamed into the upper bay of New York,” says Bing, “1,000 American soldiers, all of them casualties and many without hands, arms or legs, begged to be brought topside to the forward deck. These boys hungered for a sight of their homeland and the Statue of Liberty, the epitome of all they had been fighting for, all they had sacrificed.

“I cried unashamedly along with them as the Manhattan skyline came into view and we passed Bedloe’s Island where the Statue of Liberty stands. A fellow from San Diego who had lost both legs was by me as we sailed by. ‘She’s a great old girl,’ he mumured [sic] in a choked voice. ‘She was worth every bit of it.’”

Crosby left New York July 24 at the head of a USO Camp Shows unit and travelled 19,000 miles, oftentimes being within 100 yards of the front lines in France, Belgium and Holland...


SOURCE

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BING AND THE HARRIGANS


This excellent look at Bing's ancestors is taken from an article in the NY Times, which quotes directly from Gary Giddins' book: Bing Crosby: A Pocketful Of Dreams...

THE HARRIGANS

With a mother named Harrigan, you are Irish, I take it?
- Ken Carpenter, Kraft Music Hall (1945)

Late in the spring of 1831, Bing Crosby's maternal great-grandfather, Dennis Harrigan, a fifty-one-year-old farmer and carpenter who lived in Schull parish, in the southwestern region of County Cork, Ireland, ushered his family aboard a timber ship bound for New Brunswick, Canada. Leading his wife, Catherine, and nine of their ten children onto the creaking deck, Dennis knew what to expect of the grueling voyage. Still, he counted himself lucky, for few members of his congregation were able to leave at all. Of the 65,000 emigrants who set sail in 1831, only ninety or so from tiny Schull could afford passage, not many of them Catholic. A brave, resolute lot, they gazed west-ward with tenacious faith as the ship cleared Ireland's southernmost point, the Mizen Head of southwest Cork's Mizen peninsula, once a haven for smugglers and pirates who sought refuge in its impregnable coves.

The Canadian-built vessels were designed not for carrying passengers but for transporting timber, New Brunswick's primary export. To maximize efficiency, the shipbuilders hastily modified the holds and lowered passenger fares by more than two-thirds, allowing greater numbers of Irish families to emigrate and generating the slogan "timber in, passengers out." Dozens of those ships were lost at sea, and many more were decimated by typhus, dysentery, and other diseases. All were cursed with conditions as barbarous as those of slave ships: insufficient food supplies, inadequate sanitation and gender partition, little if any ventilation, berths half as high as those required by law for slavers. The journey averaged six weeks, and the only music heard was the shrill wail of unceasing lamentations.

The wilderness of Canada's eastern provinces promised to be friendlier to the Harrigans. Dennis's siblings had brought over their families the previous year. Now Dennis removed his own family (all but his married daughter, Ellen Sauntry, who arrived in New Brunswick twenty years later as a widow with seven children), fourteen years before the Great Hunger and before the tidal wave of Irish immigration that flooded America's urban centers. His smaller generation of immigrants would explore and prosper in rural America, migrating from the Northeast to the Midwest to the Northwest, building successful farm communities with the logging skills they learned in the Canadian woods. The names of Mizen peninsula's Catholic congregants who left that season and in harder ones to follow took root all across America: Fitzgerald, Driscoll, Reagan, Harrigan, Sullivan, Donovan, Coughlin, O'Brien, Hickey, Mahoney.

They had abandoned a hellish place.

A hundred years had passed since Jonathan Swift offered his "modest proposal" to abate Ireland's poverty, beggary, and congestion by cannibalizing its "Popish" offspring. "A most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or broiled," he advised, "a delicacy befitting landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have best title to the children." 5 Ireland, cherishing its brood not least as a defense against the privations of old age, tripled its population in the decades after Swift. But congestion was not the foremost source of Ireland's sorrows. The nefarious Penal Code of 1695 barred Irish Catholics—three-quarters of the population—from owning land and businesses, from voting, and from building schools and churches or attending those that existed. Informants, particularly those who turned in priests, were rewarded. The Act of Union, passed in 1801 amid a blizzard of bribes, threats, and hangings, promised to balance the scales between Ireland and England but in fact gave the dominant country a captive market—fortifying a corrupt system of absentee landlords, toppling what was left of Irish commerce, and dissolving the Dublin-based Parliament. While the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 did away with the code, it could not abate the long history of religious enmity.

Ireland became a grim landscape of windowless mud-and-stone cabins, potato-and-milk diets, cholera. The Duke of Wellington observed, "There never was a country in which poverty existed to the extent it exists in Ireland," and the French traveler Gustave de Beaumont found in the Emerald Isle extremes of misery "worse than the Negro in his chains." In the year the Harrigans set out for New Brunswick, the Mizen peninsula was beset by cholera and famine.

Most likely the Harrigans spoke Gaelic, not English, and could not read at all. They were tough, hardworking, close-knit, intensely religious, and musical. A legend passed down into the twentieth century traces the family's genesis to John of Skibbereen (a town some twelve miles east of Schull), who may have been Dennis Harrigan's father and was known as Organ O'Brien for his fine playing of the church instrument. The importance of music and dance in nineteenth-century Ireland can hardly be overstated, for amusements pro-vided as much solace as the church. After a visit in 1825, Sir Walter Scott described the people's "natural condition" as one of "gaiety and happiness."

When the ship finally docked, the Harrigans made their way through the Miramichi section of New Brunswick to the outlying woods of the Williamstown settlement, six miles inland, where they learned to clear land for tillage and built log cabins that furnished little protection against the winter's freezing temperatures. Dennis's nine children ranged in age from one to twenty. He made capable carpenters of his sons.

Most of Williamstown's Catholic settlers were from Mizen peninsula and were powerfully united by culture and custom. The strongest bond was religious, strengthened by the prejudices of the Irish Methodists who preceded them. A second bond was the tradition of aggregate farming, the sharing of tilled soil between families as in the Irish townlands. A third, consequent to the first two, was the observance of secrecy: the "sinister side" of the Irish character that historian Cecil Woodham-Smith has traced to the days of the Penal Code. A fourth was the heritage of strong, venerated women (Ireland was that rare nation where husbands paid dowries for wives, instead of the reverse) who secured their households. A fifth bond was that of large families—small communes within the larger ones.

Music—the public converse of the secret self—was the sixth bond, taking the form of Irish melodies and rhythms that became increasingly popular and influential in the last half of the nineteenth century, complementing styles developed at the same time by African Americans. It was the custom in Ireland and Africa, but not in Europe, to dance to vocal music; to favor the pentatonic scale, call-and-response phrases, and cyclical song structures; to employ expressive vocal mannerisms, including dramatic shifts in register, nasality, and most especially the upper mordent.


The mordent—a fast wavering from one note to another and back, a fleeting undulation that suggests a mournful cry—was a vestige of the Byzantine influence that dominated European music in the Middle Ages. That influence vanished from most of Europe but endured in the plaintive folk music of Scotland and Ireland, owing to their economic and geographical isolation from the modernizing impact of the Reformation and Renaissance. A 1950s edition of Chambers's Encyclopaedia defines the mordent as a "certain oscillation or catch in the voice as it comes to rest momentarily upon a sustained sound" and goes on to qualify it as a basic attribute of "crooning." Among young Celtic singers of the twenty-first century, the mordent-heavy approach is known as sean nós, or old style, but it was new to Americans in the 1920s, when Dennis Harrigan's great-grandson pinned the mordent to popular music like a red rose.

Sealing the family's bargain with the New World, Catherine Harrigan, in her early forties, gave birth on September 6, 1832, to her eleventh child, the only one born in North America, Dennis Jr. It would have greatly surprised Bing Crosby to learn that his maternal grandfather was Canadian; he assumed he was Irish born, and wrote as much in his memoir and on his mother's death certificate.(When Bing attempted to trace the family line during a visit to Ireland, he was thwarted by his certainty in the matter.) If Dennis Sr. embodied the trials of transatlantic resettlement, his son—born in New Brunswick and baptized at St. Patrick's in Miramichi—would personify the westward journey into and across the United States.

By 1835 his family, like so many of Williamstown's interconnected tribes, was earning much of its livelihood from logging and timber. The desirable riverfront land had been taken by previous settlers, but the rigors of clearing tracts acclimated the newcomers and taught them to survive the wilderness. Protestants and Catholics often worked together, united by the hostile environment. Dennis Harrigan's appointment as overseer of highways in 1839 affirmed the increasingly significant Catholic presence. But the old enmities persisted. Catholics were characterized as criminal or rowdy and were severely punished; one man was hanged for stealing twenty-five pennies and a loaf of bread. Catholic children had to travel long distances to escape the schooling of Methodist crusaders. The first Catholic teacher, James Evers, hired in 1846, was falsely accused of sexually molesting a Methodist student and was fired. A petition attesting to his "good moral character" was signed by thirteen parents of Williamstown, including Dennis Harrigan. Evers spent two years futilely defending himself, then cleared out in 1849, at which time the Court of General Sessions at Newcastle concluded that he was a man of "moral and sober habits" and "taught to our satisfaction."

Evers's calamity prefigured that of Williamstown. As Great Britain reduced tariffs on timber from the Baltic countries, New Brunswick's timber industry declined. Town merchants foreclosed on their debts. Opportunities in the western United States lured away the settlers' children. The Williamstown settlement would be little remembered today but for the inordinate number of eminent Americans whose New World roots are in those woods. Dennis Harrigan's descendants alone include, among his grandsons, William and John Harrigan, who built the Scotch Lumber Company in Fulton, Alabama; Emmett Harrigan, head of a major law firm in St. Paul and an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate; and Ellen Sauntry's brazen Miramichi-raised son, William Sauntry Jr., the millionaire lumber baron of Stillwater, Minnesota, known as "the King of the St. Croix," whose garish mansion, the Alhambra, stands today as a Stillwater tourist attraction. Dennis's great-grandsons include Lyman Sutton, president of Stillwater's Cosmopolitan State Bank; Gordon Neff, whose chain stores introduced supermarkets to Los Angeles; Colonel Bill Harrigan, who helped rescue the First World War's "Lost Battalion" in the Argonne Forest; bandleader Bob Crosby; and Bing.

Dennis and Catherine passed away within a few years of each other and are presumably buried in a churchyard's unmarked graves in Red Bank, on the Miramichi River. They were almost certainly gone by 1866, the year several of their children, now in their thirties and forties, left for Maine, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Dennis Jr., however, remained another fifteen years. After attending school in Williamstown and Red Bank, he tried his hand at various jobs. While working as a logger in Newcastle and later as a brewer, he boarded in the home of a friend, Michael Ahearn. In 1867, the year the Dominion of Canada was chartered, he married Ahearn's sister, Katie. Within weeks the couple headed south through Maine and across to Stillwater, Minnesota.

Dennis Jr., one of the most industrious and devout of his father's sons (two or three brothers were thought to be ne'er-do-wells and were probably alcoholic), eventually earned a reputation as a reliable, proficient contractor and builder, specializing in church architecture. Stillwater provided a congenial setting for him to hone his skills; many Miramichi families, including three of his siblings, had been drawn to the prosperous logging and rafting enterprises on the St. Croix River. He also continued with his wife, Katie, the custom of large families. Married in their thirties, the two produced five boys and two girls between 1867 and 1879. They remained in Stillwater until the last was born.

According to the Crosby genealogy written by Larry Crosby (Bing's oldest brother), it was Katie who advanced the family's musical calling. In his account, she "not only baked a wonderful pie, but sang like a bird, and it was common gossip when she was out rowing on the lake, that either Katie Harrigan or an angel is out there singing." Her boys were raised to be practical. In Larry's account, Dennis "wisely brought up four of his sons to be respectively [a] lather, plumber, plasterer and electrician. They could build a house or win a fight, without any outside help." Singing was a pastime, hardly a profession. Two grandchildren of Ellen Sauntry, first cousins to Dennis Jr., "won renown on the stage," to the chagrin of their parents, who considered acting "unmoral."

Katie managed to pass on her love of singing to at least one child, her fourth-born and first daughter, Catherine Helen Harrigan, who was delivered on February 7, 1873, in a boarding room above an old creamery. This Catherine also inherited her father's pious diligence. When her own children—Bing among them—were middle-aged, they reminisced about her "sweet, clear voice" and took care not to smoke, drink, or swear in her presence. A childhood photograph of Catherine reveals a comely round-faced girl who looks nothing like the severe image she presented in later years. In her large, pale eyes, one can see her mother's penetrating stare and her father's hooded lids, both of which she passed on to her most famous son.

A year or two after Catherine was born, the Harrigans moved into a large boardinghouse on Main Street. Many of its thirty or so tenants were from New Brunswick. Dennis probably owned part of the house, but in 1879, when the youngest of his children, George, was born, he was able to secure a home of his own on Second Street, where he took in boarders to bolster his income. In 1881, finding increasingly limited opportunities in Stillwater, he moved the family to St. Paul. Before the year was out, he relocated again, to Knife Falls (now Cloquet), near Duluth, where his fortunes improved. He built that town's first Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, as well as a school, and was appointed a church trustee. In 1885, with his reputation as a builder secure, Dennis took his family back to St. Paul for three years. There Catherine, now twelve, and her brother Edward spent their afternoons at the ice palace, he making and she demonstrating ice skates. They were obliged to earn their keep beyond essentials, a Harrigan practice that Catherine, who could skate her name on ice, instilled in her own children.

The West had lured many Miramichi families, including a few of Dennis's uncles and aunts, by the time he succumbed. Most had relocated to Washington and Wisconsin, drawn by the booming economies set in motion by land speculators and lumber barons. Dennis chose Tacoma, a seaport on Puget Sound, about twenty-five miles south of Seattle, where the lumber industry increased the population tenfold in the 1880s. A boom was predicted when the Northern Pacific Railroad named Tacoma its terminus, and in 1884 the city was incorporated from two smaller boroughs of the same name. Signs of progress—electric lights, warehouses, shipways, a hospital—reflected the influx of thousands of blue-collar families drawn by the promise of cheap lumber and land. No city in the nation boasted a higher percentage of families who owned their own homes. Not even the scourge of racial violence halted growth; in fact, it may have helped. Tacoma created international headlines when a mob led by city officials rounded up 200 Chinese residents at gunpoint and forced them to board southbound trains. The United States was forced to pay China an indemnity, but the specter of competitive, minimally paid labor had been subdued.

In 1888 the Northern Pacific Railroad completed its pass through the Cascade Mountains and sold 90,000 acres of timberland to the St. Paul and Tacoma Lumbering Company, which built a sawmill on the tidal flats of Commencement Bay. That year Dennis and his eldest son, William, decided to make their move. Boarding in a Tacoma rooming house, they worked as carpenters until they earned enough to buy a place that could accommodate Katie and the children, who arrived a year later. Dennis was fifty-seven, old for carpentry, but he soon established himself as a contractor and built several notable structures, including Seattle's Hull Building and Tacoma's Aquinas Academy annex, Scandinavian Church, and Dominican Sisters convent.

All but the two youngest children helped keep the Harrigans solvent. William, twenty-three in 1890, worked alongside his father as a lather until he hired on as a streetcar conductor for the Tacoma Rail and Motor Company; Ambrose, twenty-one, was foreman for an electrical-supplies concern; Edward, twenty, worked as a plumber; Catherine, who at seventeen was called Kate, fashioned and sold hats for the G. W. H. Taylor millinery company; her fifteen-year-old sister, Annie, worked at home as a dressmaker; at thirteen and eleven, respectively, Frank and George helped with the chores.

A few years later Kate took a job clerking at Sanford & Stone's popular mercantile store on Tacoma Avenue and was designing hats for a branch of the company that staged amateur theatricals. While appearing in one of those productions, she attracted the attention of an unlikely suitor: a mandolin-playing auditor for the Northern Pacific, Harry Lowe Crosby...


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

BING AND THANKSGIVING 1944

Here is a program advisory for the forthcoming Thanksgiving weekend for the next "Star Spangled Radio Hour." It will include the Thursday, November 23, 1944 (Thanksgiving evening) "Kraft Music Hall" broadcast with Bing Crosby, Eugenie Baird, the Charioteers, John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, Charles Henderson and the Kraft Choir with guest Rise Stevens of the Metropolitan Opera.

This is very a timely and heartwarming musical program presented in the typically well-produced, breezy and light Crosby manner and broadcast from NBC in Hollywood. On a more serious note, Bing references his recent trip to France and the importance of the American troops fighting "in western France, eastern Germany or wherever it is" and supporting our forces with the Sixth War Loan.

Bing's comments are very thought provoking juxtaposed against our "modern" world of 2012. Der Bingle had just returned two weeks earlier from his tour of the front lines in France, successful tour of England, travels with Fred Astaire and appearances with Major Glenn Miller and units of the American Band of the AEF...

Listen to the broadcast: HERE


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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BING: THE FIRST KING OF ROCK N ROLL

This is a great article I found on another blog...



First King of Rock and Roll?

1929 was a whole new world to the one we live in today. Ellington, Beiderbecke, Trumbauer, Lang, the Dorseys and Condon were ripping up the music world and a young singer trying to make his way in the world was among them. His name was Bing Crosby.

This guy had sung with all the above mentioned artists, or knew them. He came from a time when “singers” did not exist, just bands with vocals. Records would just say the name of the band, with vocal refrain.

Bing changed all of that. He was the first guy to take a solo singer and turn himself into a super star. Now you may be thinking, what has that got to do with rock and roll? Well, it’s everything, because without Crosby there would be no Sinatra, no Johnnie Ray, no Elvis, no Beatles and no rock bands.

So, what were the early discs like? Not staid, I can tell you that. Crosby sounded like anything but the little old man he is remembered as. He scats, feels the song and makes them swing. ‘Mississippi Mud’ moved, it moved like nothing had moved before. Just as Elvis would make ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ the hottest sound in town, Crosby made his first discs sound like he was an alien from Mars. ‘Muddy Water’, ‘My Kinda Love’, ‘It Must Be True’, ‘Learn To Croon’ all had that same edgy quality. The man was born to sing Jazz.

What happened next was the same fate all new fads end up with– he became part of the establishment, a movie star. The man who had invented superstars became a little old guy who sat on TV every Christmas and sang jolly refrains. The memories of his rip roaring, heavy drinking, womanising rock and roll past, erased. The man who had battled with his weight suddenly became skinny, the man who was the first to sing Hoagy Carmichael’s tunes became Mr White Christmas…

Check out the early discs and tell me if you can’t hear the vocal hiccups of Elvis in those records:

*Mississippi Mud
*Ol’ Man River
*I Surrender Dear
*Stardust

I can tell you, I love all the work Bing accomplished, the movies and the albums. I like the Sinatra styled albums he did in the 50′s, like Bing Sings whilst Bregman Swings’ with Buddy Bregman, and the jazzed up hitter entitled “New Tricks” with Buddy Cole, but sometimes I wish he had just stayed with his roots, the rockin’ jazz of the 20′s and 30′s.

Just check him out, he swings, sings and rocks with the best of them...



SOURCE

Friday, November 9, 2012

BING AND MICHAEL BUBLE

Michael Buble's New Holiday Special Will Feature Him Singing with...Bing Crosby?

 
The details of Michael Buble's upcoming NBC Christmas special have now been announced. As previously reported, the show will find the Canadian star singing with Rod Stewart, Carly Rae Jepsen, Blake Shelton and Sesame Street'sElmo -- but it turns out that the late, great Bing Crosby is also on the bill.

Called Michael Buble: Home for the Holidays, the December 10 special was taped in Michael's hometown of Vancouver. In a statement, the singer says, "We had great fun with our guests and I think the show really captures the joyous spirit of the holidays."
During the one-hour special, Michael and his guests will perform songs like "Jingle Bell Rock," "Let It Snow," "Winter Wonderland" and "All I Want for Christmas Is You." In addition, thanks to the magic of special effects, viewers will see Michael singing "White Christmas" as a duet with Bing Crosby.

Michael Buble: Home for the Holidays will air at 10 p.m. ET.

Michael is currently working on a new album for release in 2013, but to tide you over, you could buy yourself a new copy of his 2011 holiday album Christmas, which was last year's second biggest-selling album. A special edition version of the disc is now available for sale on Michael's official website. Alternately, you could just pick up copies of Rod Stewart's and Blake Shelton's new Christmas albums -- Michael is a featured artist on them both...


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Saturday, November 3, 2012

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: BING AND HIS LEADING LADIES

Bing Crosby had a clause in his contract that he would have approval over his leading ladies. Luckily he had a good eye for beauty because he surrounded himself with some of the most beautiful and talented women that were around during Hollywood's golden age - as these classic pictures clearly show...

CAROLE LOMBARD (1909-1942)


ANN BLYTH (BORN 1928)



SHIRLEY ROSS (1913-1975)



MARION DAVIES (1897-1961)


MIRIAM HOPKINS (1902-1972)


DEBBIE REYNOLDS (BORN 1932)




Monday, October 29, 2012

BING AND REMINGTON

Any fans of Bing Crosby know that Bing put his name to a line of products throughout his career - his face was one of the most recognizable faces for more than a generation. Here are two advertisements from the 1950s. Bing is hawking the Remington Shaver in these two ads. I love the artwork and the general set of of them. It makes me think I need a shave...



Thursday, October 25, 2012

BING AND TRUE LOVE

It is amazing how even in an obituary, Bing Crosby's name comes out. It is just another example of how many lives Bing touched...


Edward McConnell loved his wife and Bing Crosby's music, in that order
By Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer

SEMINOLE — His favorite song came near the end of High Society, a 1956 film starring Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby.

Crosby plays a divorced jazz musician who wants to win back his wife, played by Kelly. The two of them are sailing, Kelly's head rests in his lap and it's getting on toward dusk. He sings True Love, a wistful ballad, and she harmonizes on the chorus.

Edward McConnell always admired Crosby's music and laid-back public persona. He collected phonograph records from speed-78 on down, then CDs. Like the singer, he played a lot of golf.

Unlike Crosby's reputation, Mr. McConnell rarely if ever appeared flustered or temperamental.

Two years after he married Joan Nelson in 1954, True Love became their song.

"He liked his attitude and he liked his voice," said Joan McConnell, 81. "I think everybody liked Crosby."

Students who worked for Mr. McConnell in college bookstores liked him because he showed an interest in them and was patient. Mr. McConnell, who retired to Seminole in the mid-1990s and had served as president of his neighborhood association, died Oct. 9 at Bay Pines VA Medical Center. He was 91.

Mr. McConnell dressed modestly and conservatively and kept regular habits. He read newspapers daily, making a point of catching any spelling errors, and books about the Civil War.

He tried not to get in too much of a hurry about anything.

He planned roundabout family road trips so that everyone could see another Civil War battlefield or cemetery, whether the kids wanted to or not.

"They knew they were going to get history," his wife said.

He did not dominate conversations, preferring to toss in the witty one-liners that always seemed to occur to him. But others sought him out as a leader. The longtime bookstore manager was honored by the National Association of College Stores and appreciated by his neighborhood association.

"He could tell us what had happened in the past, why they did certain things and so forth," said Lee Suggs, 78, the current vice president of Seminole on the Green Villas One South.

Edward David McConnell was born in Kingston, N.Y., in 1921, and brought up by his grandparents. He studied journalism at Columbia University, then served in the Army during World War II.

He impressed Joan as an old-fashioned type, which she liked. He stood when a woman entered the room. He opened doors. He looked people in the eye when he shook hands.

"Not everyone is like that," she said.

Because of the cowlick of hair on his forehead, his grandfather called him Skee, after the comic strip character Skeezix from Gasoline Alley. Other people called him Mac for reasons that are unclear, or Professor when he ran the a bookstore outside Rutgers University and, later, the bookstore for Florida State University.

Mr. McConnell and his wife lived in Tallahassee for 23 years before retiring to Seminole.

"I remember him as sort of being the funny guy, the jokester, putting on masks and scaring me and my sister," said Cara Hodson, 33, a granddaughter who once called him Bop Bop.

When she visited Mr. McConnell in Seminole, her own young children also jumped in fright. This time it wasn't their great-grandfather startling anyone, but a 2-foot-high Bing Crosby doll that bursts into song when touched.

Heart trouble and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder slowed him down in recent years.

An urn containing his cremated remains rests inside a columbarium at Serenity Gardens Memorial Park. Beneath his birth and death dates, his wife had two words engraved that she believes sums up their 58-year marriage: "True Love"...


SOURCE: http://www.tampabay.com/news/obituaries/edward-mcconnell-loved-his-wife-and-bing-crosbys-music-in-that-order/1257586

Sunday, October 21, 2012

THE CROSBY LEGACY

Ample evidence exists to suggest that Crosby was the most popular entertainer on the twentieth century. From 1926, the date of his first commercial record release, until his death in 1977, he was constantly in demand as a recording artist, film actor, radio—and later, television—personality, and concert performer. Jose Ferrer offered the following assessment of his talent: "Bing Crosby is like Mr. Everything of all time."

His singing, of course, was central to understanding his appeal. In addition to virtually defining the crooning tradition, he was widely held to be a premier jazz interpreter. Earl Orkin would write that Bing Crosby was one of the greatest of all jazz singers. Although he could and often did sing just about anything, he grew up in the world of Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael, and jazz was always what he loved best. (Unlike Sinatra, for instance, he always phrased the music, not the words.) Short of Louis Armstrong or Billie Holiday perhaps, there is no better role-model for an aspiring jazz singer that Bing.

Osterholm attempted to ascertain Crosby’s importance as a singer in commercial terms. Conceding for a moment that Elvis Presley, who died two months before Bing, sold 500 million records since 1954, and that Bing sold only 400 million since 1926, we could, for a simple method, compare relative sales in relation to population by comparing the nation’s population at the mid-points of their careers. Adjusting Presley’s sales by the audience in Crosby’s time, it would be about 365 million, Crosby’s sales would be 508 million in Presley’s time. Moreover, in the 1930s, when Bing was first popular, record sales were very low because of the Depression, and many people also maintain that Bing has actually sold more than 500 million records.

This success was instrumental in enabling Crosby to assume a larger than life persona. According to Thompson, Bing Crosby is probably the most-loved character in the world apart from the creations of Walt Disney. For a half century he has dispensed much joy and much entertainment for the benefit of millions who were never ever to meet him but felt that they knew him and in him had a friend. A colossal, enveloping warmth of affection has justly come his way through the years. Even if the image of the casual, lazy pipe-smoking crooner was not completely true it would not matter. He was Bing, Mr. Family Man, Mr. Clean.


SOURCE



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MY BING THOUGHTS

This past weekend marked 35 years since Bing Crosby died on a golf course in Spain. Other than a few slight mentions on the internet, nothing much was really said. Of course, I would rather his life be celebrated than his death – but it would be a good time to issue some new Bing material to the public. However, the desert of new Crosby releases has remained barren which is unfortunate.

Bing Crosby Enterprises has issued some fabulous material in recent years. Not only have they issued rare material, but also high quality material. However, nothing new has come out of the company in two years. It is unfortunate because other family run camps, like that of Frank Sinatra continue to market the Sinatra name. It is easy for someone on the outside to be a sideline critic for these companies, because we do not know all of the restrictions and rights needed to issue a product, but still the aging fan base of Bing Crosby is craving new material sooner than later.

I also was hopeful that Gary Giddins second volume on Bing Crosby would be issued this year as announced. Unfortunately that does not seem likely at this point. One of my prized possession is Giddin’s first volume, but with dwindling book sales I am worried that the publisher will not risk a second volume on Bing as each year passes by.

The years after Bing died on a golf course on October 14, 1977 have not been kind to his memory. He was the biggest personality in the world during the 1930s and 1940s, and his voice was the most heard and recorded voice of all-time. Bing deserves better not only when we remember his birth and his death, but when he take stock of all he gave to his fans and the public in general during his fifty plus years of entertaining. I wish other people to realize that and remember Bing more fondly and not just his dedicated fans...


Sunday, October 14, 2012

BING AND 1977


Bing Crosby returned to world headlines when he fell into a twenty-foot-deep orchestra pit while taping a CBS special commemorating his fiftieth anniversary in the entertainment business at the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, California March 3, 1977. Although grabbing for a piece of scenery helped to break his fall, it was found that he had ruptured a disc at the base of his spine. He underwent a prolonged recuperation. At his age, it was hard to determine how he would be affected. Eleven weeks after the accident, however, he appeared on the Barbara Walters Special, doing a little dance step with Barbara as they walked arm-in-arm and, because it was drizzling, singing a few bars of "Singing in the Rain."

He returned to the gold course in short order and his "Bing Crosby and Friends" did a concert at Concord, California in mid-August as a tune-up for a planned tour of Norway, Sweden, and England. The troupe performed at Momarkedet August 25 in a benefit for the Norwegian Red Cross. In September Bing taped his last Christmas special, his forty-second (going back to radio), in London for CBS. The program, titled Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas and featuring guest star David Bowie, was aired on November 30. He also found time to record his last album, Seasons, with British producer Ken Barnes; it would become his twenty-fourth gold record.


"Bing Crosby and Friends" opened September 26 at the London Palladium, playing to sell-out crowds through October 10. Variety published the following review of the show: "Undoubtedly, the highlight of this two and a half hour show, in for two weeks at this vaud flagship, is a stint when Bing Crosby and the Joe Bushkin Quartet glide smoothly through a medley of chestnuts including "White Christmas" and an up-beat arrangement of "Old Man River"….[Crosby] always looked relaxed and confident, whether gagging with the capacity audience, duetting with wife, Kathryn, or son, Harry, or singing along with Rosemary Clooney….The audience was predominantly middle-aged to elderly, and much of Crosby’s show is designed to take advantage of the singer’s tremendous nostalgia appeal."

On October 13 Crosby flew to Spain for golf and game shooting. His wife and family employee Alan Fisher remained behind to help Harry, Jr. get settled in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, where he would be a student for the next three years. At the La Moraleja Golf Club the next day, he challenged Valentin Barrios, the former Spanish champion, and Cesar de Zulueta, president of the club. Teamed with Manuel Pinero, then Spanish champion, Bing was reportedly in the best of humor, joking and singing throughout the match, which they won by one stroke. He collapsed from a massive heart attack while walking away from the eighteenth hole. He passed away without regaining consciousness as an ambulance was taking him to the Red Cross Hospital in Madrid.


Television stations in Spain interrupted their programs with the news, and word quickly spread across the globe. Tributes immediately began pouring in from a vast number of friends and admirers. President Jimmy Carter offered the following eulogy:

"For all the roads he traveled in his memorable career, Bing Crosby remained a gentleman, proof that a great talent can be a good man despite the pressures of show business. He lived a life his fans around the world felt was typically American: successful, yet modest; casual, but elegant."

His crooning rival, Frank Sinatra, would comment, "Bing’s death is almost more than I can take. He was the father of my career, the idol of my youth, and a dear friend of my maturity. His passing leaves a gaping hole in out music and in the lives of everybody who ever loved him. And that’s just about everybody. Thank god we have his films and his records providing us with his warmth and talent forever.".

Even now, thirty five years after his sad passing, Bing Crosby's death is felt by anyone who picks up a microphone and croons or anyone that is a fan of truly great music. Bing Crosby's legacy is a distant memory now in 2012, but what he gave to his fans and the entertainment wolrd in general will never be forgotten...



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