Friday, March 30, 2012


Here are some great Bing Crosby album covers. Most of them I had in my collection when I was actively collecting records. Compacts discs are great, but there is nothing like the artwork on a good old fashioned album...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Here is a first look at the new restaurant, Corners Tavern, which is taking over the space which used to be occupied by the sadly closed Bing Crosby Restaurant...


Monday, March 26, 2012


Film historian Bob DeFlores will screen films featuring Bing Crosby in a program Wednesday evening at the Washington County Historic Courthouse in Stillwater. DeFlores was a big fan of the bass-baritone who went on to be one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with more than a half billion records in circulation. DeFlores has collected scores of films featuring Crosby, whose mother, Kate Harrigan, was born in Stillwater.

The program, called "Bing Crosby Movies at the Courthouse," will include "Please," a 1933 Paramount film, "Wayne and Shuster Take an Affectionate Look at Bing Crosby," and a 30-minute home movie and highlights from Crosby's home in Toluca Lake between 1935 and 1943. The scenes show Crosby playing tennis, horseback riding, swimming and attending parties.

Clips and commentary will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets for the event put on by Stillwater Theatre are $10 at the door, or $9 if reserved in advance by calling 651-338-4158.


Saturday, March 24, 2012


Do you ever hear a song that floods your senses with memories of the past? Transports you to a time when you were young, or even just yesterday? There are a few songs that will forever remind me of my father. He was always singing to my sister and I a hand full of songs, such as “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys”.

One of the songs I use to LOVE that he would sing for us was “Swinging on a Star”. A song you won’t find on any local radio stations. It reminds me so much of him and times when we use to jump in the car, stop at our local mom and pop store for my pick of candy and his signature “Tootsie Roll” and belt out tunes as we drove through the country.

Years ago I decided to add this song to my musical collection and purchased the Bing Crosby CD. I recently got the CD out to start sharing this song with my daughter. I’ve told her the history of it and how her grandpa use to sing it to me. We will sing it together in the car on the way to school sometimes. Today was one of those days and it made me happy to sing with my daughter and think of my father and how he is smiling down on us, happy that we are sharing a moment in honor of him.

Author: Colleen


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Blog reader and the mastermind behind the Crosby Fan World forum, Jarbie, has brought up some interesting points about a forgotten Bing album called "Holiday In Europe". His points about the album are quite interesting...

Just been listening to the tracks from 'Holiday In Europe' and pondering again on the claims made about the accompaniment. Just as a reminder, some of the tracks were first recorded in London on 16 October 1960. For some reason Bing's attention does not seem to be too focused on the proceedings. There were three takes - or possibly only rehearsals - of 'C'est Ci Bon', 'Under Paris Skies' and 'Morgen' and four of 'Melancolie' with the Malcolm Lockyer Orchestra. At several points Bing makes supportive comments - he says he likes the arrangement of 'C'est Ci Bon' and later of 'Under Paris Skies' but the whole affair is very informal and there are a number of false starts and 'fluffs'. 'Under Paris Skies' seems to be wholly a series of rehearsal run-throughs. In 'Morgen' Bing complains about getting lost and in 'Melancolie' he is getting impatient with himself and admits he does not know the song. By take 2 it is 'everybody duck - start again - I blew it' . On take 3 the language gets blunter still but Bing then says he hopes that there were no ladies present!

After all that effort nothing was finalised and on the available aural evidence it seems that no real effort was made to go back to attempt a final single good performance of any of the tracks. Fred Reynolds suggests that Bing wanted to off to keep a golf appointment.

That Bing and Orchestra were present together is abundantly evident. It is certainly not the case that Bing was singing over pre - recorded tracks. A large quantity of the material that was recorded 'escaped' from the recording studio and was the subject of informal release on both LP and CD, which have had a fair amount of circulation.

On 8th and 9th May 1961 back in Los Angeles Bing had another try, recording the four tracks that had been attempted in London plus the remaining eight - a total of twelve tracks, in two days. It has been said that these were dubbed over the orchestral recordings made in London. Clearly these could not have been the original recordings - Bing's own voice would be evident and there is little evidence of any successful orchestral takes from the sessions at which Bing was present. On the evidence of the material that 'escaped' I doubt anything sensible could be made of them. I am inclined to strong disbelief. What might have been possible is that the orchestra recorded some 'good' tracks separately at some later time without the presence of Bing. Maybe they just stayed on after Bing left for his golf. And of course there were another eight tracks not apparently attempted with Bing. On this scenario it might be possible that the whole session was intended to be a run through to see how things went and to establish a base from which Malcolm Lockyer could work for tracks that were intended for Bing to record over. There are a couple of instances for example where Bing suggests changes.

But an alternative scenario was also once suggested - that new orchestral tracks were recorded 'anonymously' in L.A. to which Bing added his voice. I'm uncertain whether anyone has come up with a definite statement (or conclusive theory) of what happened, but whatever the truth of the matter, the album overrall is quite satisfying and I do not detect any evidence of any tension in the timing and cohesion between the voice and the orchestra such as very occasionally occurs in other instances where Bing recorded over pre-recorded orchestral tracks.

Bing made an interesting comment during an interview in the mid '70s to the effect that orchestral musicianship in London had come on a lot in recent years. One can only wonder compared to what? What had he in mind particularly?

Malcolm Lockyer was a well known British composer, arranger and light orchestra leader through the 1950s to the 1970s, dying in 1976 at the age of 53. He led one of the BBC orchestras in many broadcasts, and appeared in a longish series of Glenn Miller tribute concerts, whilst never achieving quite the level of recognition of one or two others such as Mantovani. He recorded frequently but mainly orchestrally and I have found it hard to find many examples of him with vocalists on record though he supported many vocalists on broadcasts.

I've always liked 'April In Portugal', C'Est Ci Bon', Pigalle' and 'Under Paris Skies', and they all have good entertainment value. I would not go so far as Will Friedwald who says that it is 'one of the all-time Crosby classics'. I'd put it at least half a rung on the ladder below that! I do go along with him however when he says, after noting that some of the titles were almost cliches by 1961, that 'Crosby makes them breathe anew, a sound so fresh that it's like we've never heard them before'. But surely Bing did that anyway? - he brought his own interpretation even to hackneyed material.

At the other extreme we have Ken Barnes who was dismissive, but at least he did not pick it out for adverse mention.- 'The only two abums of the early 60s that deserve a mention are 'Bing and Satchmo' and 'That Travelin' Two Beat'. Some others he does mention but only in order to pour scorn - notably 'El Senor Bing, and the 'Sing - Along' albums. Ken, I know you have very high standards but if you ever read this, I do not think that you should have dismissed 'Holiday In Europe' in this way. It deserves a positive mention!

I'm amazed to see that my CD was issued as long ago as 1993 and does not seem to be available any longer. I must have had it for most of the intervening period, but it doesn't seem so long ago that I bought it. Aging Baker. It was issued by MCA Victor Japan using the Decca imprint. (MCA and Victor together is a bit of an oddity but international joint shareholdings and cross-border contractual rights have produced some odd ties). Like all other Japanese issues that I have or have seen, both CD and LP, it is very well produced and they always include a full set of lyrics in English within the sleeve notes. The oddity is that there are other apparently comprehensive notes but only in Japanese, so it is clearly intended for the Japanese home market. Wonder what is said? Tantalising...


Saturday, March 17, 2012


A sad story with a little bit of a Bing connection...

(AP) When they were young, Patricia and Joan Miller sang and danced for Bing Crosby, troops and their friends.

But as the identical twins grew older, they became less interested in socializing. When people called, the sisters came up with excuses to get off the phone. Without explanation, they stopped sending birthday cards to a childhood friend. And on the rare occasion when they left their home, the two women didn't chat up the neighbors.

Never married and without children or pets, the Miller sisters withdrew into four-bedroom home in California's South Lake Tahoe, where they were found dead last week at the age of 73. One was in a downstairs bedroom and the other was in the hallway just outside.

It was as if the two sisters, long each other's only companion, could not live without each other, said Detective Matt Harwood with the El Dorado County sheriff's office.

"My perception is one died and the other couldn't handle it," said Harwood, who has been unable to identify any close friends or family members to inform of the sisters' deaths. "It appears purely natural, but we are still trying to piece it all together."

Police don't usually release the names of the dead without first informing their relatives, but the sisters' shrouded lives made that impossible, Harwood said.

"The circumstance surrounding their death is somewhat of an enigma," he said. "These two only ever had each other, and we would like, at least for their sake, to notify their family."

The deaths have confused some residents in the resort town of South Lake Tahoe, where homeowners tend to be close-knit and the sisters' reclusiveness had long inspired questions and concern. Police and neighbors alike are struggling to understand why or how two beautiful women with show business experience shut themselves up in the same home for nearly 40 years and then seemingly died within hours of each other.

In the past year, there were hints that something was amiss at the Miller home. A neighbor spotted an ambulance at the house a year ago and assumed they had fallen ill. Someone asked police to check regularly on the house. When someone arrived Feb. 25 for a routine check, no one answered the door. The next day, police forced their way in and found the bodies.

There was no blood, no signs of struggle. Nothing indicated that the women had persistent health troubles. Their longtime home was not disheveled or unkempt, potential signs of mental or physical illness. Autopsy reports were pending.

Harwood said he called a nearby senior center to see if the sisters were visitors, but no one there had heard of them. He checked with Meals on Wheels volunteers, but it didn't seem that the sisters had received their services. The only relative he found in his preliminary searches was the sisters' deceased mother.

As news of the deaths spread, former South Lake Tahoe residents called police to report that they had lived near the sisters for decades in some cases, and had hardly seen them. One sent in a postcard that claimed the sisters were the only remaining members of their family after their mother's death and their brother died at war.

Calls Tuesday to several longtime residents and social groups in the area turned up little, as many community leaders said they had never heard of the sisters.

Joan Miller was a senior accounting clerk in the payroll department at the Lake Tahoe Unified School District from 1979 to 1984. Patricia Miller, who drove a white convertible with red upholstery, worked in the El Dorado County's social services office during that same time.

"I never heard of anyone else being in either of their lives," said Betty Mitchell, 89, who supervised Patricia Miller in the social services office and later ran into the twins around town. "They were inseparable and really identical."

The sisters were friendly and often told stories of their singing adventures. They told Mitchell they had performed at Yosemite National Park and when their mother came to visit from Oregon, they all dined at Mitchell's home.

But the sisters were also guarded. When Mitchell urged them to join a local community choir, they declined. They never discussed their social lives.

"They kept things to themselves," Mitchell said. "I don't even know if they had siblings."

The sisters grew up in Portland, Ore., before moving to the San Francisco area, where Joan Miller attended college, Harwood learned. The women briefly appeared on a 1950s television show called the "The Hoffman Hayride" and posed for a picture with Crosby as children. The twins also entertained troops at military bases, a childhood friend told Harwood.

The sisters never seemed interested in dating or expanding their social spheres. They listed each other as their next of kin, Harwood said.

"All they had was each other and that's actually the way they wanted it," he said.

Joyce Peterson of the International Twins Association, a social group based in Oklahoma, said she once heard of 100-year-old twins who died within days of each other.

"As a twin, you've got this bond, you're close — almost like a married couple," said Peterson, of Minnesota, who serves as co-vice president of the group with her identical sister. "It's a bond no one else can understand."

The Miller twins appeared in poor health recently and possibly had been treated a year ago for dehydration or malnutrition, Harwood said.

Their childhood friend told Harwood that the sisters stopped sending annual birthday cards last year, and when the friend called to inquire about the missing card, the sisters seem disinterested in continuing the relationship.

Neighbors would call and the sisters would say, "Let me call you right back," and then wouldn't.

"They weren't taking care of themselves as they should or could have," Harwood said...


Monday, March 12, 2012


Bing Crosby's letters remarkable tie to famed singer's Jasper visit By The Vancouver Sun August 22, 2009 Be the first to post a comment

Eighty-one-year-old Rose Baylis has a collection of handwritten letters she received from Bing Crosby after meeting him as an 18-year-old in 1946:

I don't cherish these letters, but I do treasure the memories attached to them.

It was 1946 and the Jasper Park Lodge had opened up after the war. They wanted university students to man the lodge as cabin girls.

Paramount Pictures was making a movie called The Emperor Waltz starring Bing Crosby in Jasper before the paying customers were to arrive.

I was assigned to Bing's cabin on Lake Beauvert. One day I was called to his cabin because his pyjamas were missing.

Bing was sitting on the stairs whistling away and I said, "I don't have your pyjamas Mr. Crosby." I went right inside to the bedroom and I found them hanging on a hook in the back.

Bing started talking to me and told me to sit down. Then he started to sing every song he could think of that had the word rose in it. I was a green Saskatchewan girl and I loved meeting Bing and having him sing to me, but by gosh he was an old man as far as I was concerned. I said that I had to get back to work and he asked me if I would go golfing with him sometime and I said I don't golf, so we went for walks instead.

He left shortly after and then the first letter came. He sent it to Jasper with a Canadian stamp mailed from the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Wash. It just said, "Sorry we left too soon for goodbyes, etc." Then he sent a picture of me taken by the movie crew and I sent him a thank-you for the picture and I mailed it to Hollywood. The letters kept coming and I'd write back to him. I thought why not, as long as he is writing to me.

A year later he wrote to say he was back in Jasper for the Totem golf tournament, which he won. Then he asked me if I would meet him for a drink at the Davenport Hotel sometime. He said to leave a message with the manager of the Jasper Hotel if I could make it. I had to say no because my sister was getting married.

When I was nursing at St. Paul's he used to send Christmas letters. Then one day the letters stopped coming and I didn't even miss them. I was busy with my own life.

But these are wonderful letters, beautifully written. The originals are in the Bing Crosby Museum at Gonzaga University in Spokane. I've always thought if these letters were in the museum, other people could enjoy them.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Here is a chapter from television legend Regis Philbin's new book. He talks extensively about Bing:

It all began with Bing Crosby during the Depression of the thirties. I must have been six or seven years old at the time. My family lived on the bottom floor of a two-story house on Cruger Avenue in the Bronx, and every night at 9:30, I sat by my little radio in our kitchen and listened to a half hour of Bing's records regularly spilling out over WNEW. His voice was so clear, so pure, and so warm that after a while I thought of him as my good friend. Even though he was out in faraway, glamorous Hollywood and I was in the humble old Bronx, in my mind we truly were friends and would always spend that special half hour together, just the two of us.

I listened to those songs of the Depression era and, even as a kid, I understood that the songwriters were trying to give hope to a struggling and downtrodden public. I grew to love those lyrics and what they said to me. I swear to you that those same songs have stayed with me for the rest of my life, and during various dark periods when I hit those inevitable bumps along the way, I would actually sing them to myself. Like "When skies are cloudy and gray, they're only gray for a day, so wrap your troubles in dreams and dream your troubles away. . . ." Those were the sorts of lyrics that helped cheer an entire nation wallowing in hard times together, not to mention those who experienced bleak moments of their own in decades to come. Certainly they kept me going. So Bing Crosby remained a big deal to me-his mellow voice, his carefree persona, his very special aura. Dependable as could be, he was the friend who could always be counted on to make me feel better.

Now all through high school and college, my parents would ask me over and over again, "What are you going to do with your life? What do you want to be?" Well, in my heart I wanted to be a singer like Bing, but I worried about the reality of that dream. Did I think for one minute that I had the voice to pull it off? Of course not. It never occurred to me. I just wanted to be Bing! So I could never tell them I wanted to be a singer. They might think I was crazy or trying to achieve the impossible. But I did promise my folks that I would make my decision before graduating from the University of Notre Dame.

During those college years, my hope of becoming a singer did wane slightly. I majored in sociology and never took a single music-related course, much less any kind of class in public speaking-no confidence for it, none-yet I still had a passion for it that burned inside me.

Two weeks before graduation, I discovered that one of my friends could actually play the piano. Gus Falcone was his name, and I explained my awkward situation to him. This would be the last chance to tell my parents my long-held secret, and with Gus at the piano, I could show them it wasn't altogether that impossible as a professional dream. Over and over, for two weeks, we rehearsed one of Crosby's great songs, "Pennies from Heaven," in the campus music hall. Finally, the day before graduation, my folks arrived at Notre Dame, thoroughly shaken up by a severe thunderstorm they had encountered a half hour outside of South Bend. They got out of the car, already off balance due to the bad weather, but I bravely proceeded anyway: "Mom, Dad-don't say anything. You've waited a long time for this, so now I'm going to tell you what it is I want to do for the rest of my life. Come with me."

We walked across the campus. My parents looked relieved. They were understandably eager to hear about my career decision. Gus, meanwhile, was waiting for us at the piano in one of those rehearsal rooms. We walked in and, right on cue, he started to play "Pennies from Heaven." This, after all, was the audition of my life. We got off to a fairly good start. I thought maybe this was actually going to work-until I saw my mother's eyes brimming with tears and my father's eyes filled with bitter disappointment. I realized I couldn't do this to them. This wasn't the reason they had sacrificed so much to send me to college. The song came to an end. There was silence. Deadly silence. From the two people who naturally meant the most to me in the world. I admitted immediately that this was all wrong, that it was a silly idea. They had paid four years of tuition at one of the finest universities in the country . . . and I wanted to be a singer? It was ridiculous. I said, "I'm so sorry, let's try to forget it. I'll find something else to do, maybe in television, hopefully." TV, after all, was suddenly becoming a hot and clearly unstoppable medium.

I did, of course, eventually find my way into television, taking all kinds of jobs, climbing the ranks rung by rung. Anyway, it was several years later, when I was working nationally in Hollywood as the announcer and second banana on ABC-TV's late-night entry, The Joey Bishop Show, that I had my big moment. To help Joey relax before every show, he and I had a private daily ritual of walking from our studio on Vine Street to Hollywood Boulevard and back again. During those strolls we talked about everything, until finally one afternoon we got around to that old topic "What did you want to be when you were a kid?" He told me that, at ten years of age, he would entertain people on the street corners of Philadelphia, telling jokes that left them rocking with laughter. He knew then that he wanted to be a comedian. And so I confessed my dream: I told him that, at the age of six, I decided I wanted to be Bing Crosby-that I knew every lyric of every song Bing had ever sung, that nothing had made me happier than singing along with Bing on the radio.

So it had to happen -- three months later, Bing was booked to be a guest on our show. I remember spotting him backstage-this easygoing but towering legend wandering our hallways-and I truly couldn't take my eyes off him. Unfortunately, there were no plans for him to sing that night; he'd simply agreed to come on the show as a panel guest, along with his beautiful wife, Kathy, and share some of his great old stories, then leave. But it was all still terribly exciting. Especially for me. Especially when he walked out and sat right next to me. My whole life flashed before me-thirty years prior to all this I was just a dream-filled kid, freezing on those cold Bronx winter nights, listening to Bing sing on my little radio. How did all this happen? Who could have imagined that now, so many years later, I would be sitting next to Bing Crosby on a big network TV show in Hollywood?! It's one of those times when you have to pinch yourself in order to believe it.

The show's producers, of course, would have loved for Bing to sing anything that night, but they were afraid to ask him. Then, as the interview progressed, Joey had an idea. He would try to talk him into it by using me as his pawn, right on the air! "Bing, see this kid," Joey said, nodding toward me. "He's the biggest fan you ever had. It would be the biggest thrill of his life if you would sing a song for him. How about ‘Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral'?" I was getting nervous. How would Bing react? Well, he turned, looked directly at me, and simply sang the song a cappella. He sounded great. It was so exciting, my head was spinning. How could I tell him what he had meant to me all these years? I should have, but I couldn't.

After the applause, Joey continued. He hadn't had enough. He said, "Bing, this kid knew all your songs when he was a little boy." I couldn't believe he was going to tell that whole embarrassing story, but thank God he didn't. Instead he said, "Regis would now love to sing one of your songs to you!" Is he nuts? I thought. Is he looking for a few laughs at my expense? How do I get out of here? Bing turned and gave me a pleasant enough look-but straight at me. I can still see those steely blue eyes. He didn't know what to expect either.

It had been nearly fifteen years since I had sung "Pennies from Heaven" with my pal Gus at Notre Dame for my bewildered parents. I was nervous, but when was I ever going to get a chance to sing to Bing Crosby again? So I went for that song with all I had, even including the little-known opening verse. I looked right at Bing, singing every word of it directly to him. I could hear the band, Johnny Mann and His Merrymen, struggling to find my key for support. Two great musicians were the first to get into it, God bless them: Herb Ellis on guitar and Ray Brown on bass. And Bing himself even joined in with some notes here and there. It was a supreme moment in my life. I'll never forget it. The next day, believe it or not, I actually received a recording contract from Mercury Records. Would I want to do an album and include some of Crosby's songs? I said yes, of course, but I was terribly self-conscious about the whole thing. Nevertheless, the first track I recorded for them was (you guessed it!) "Pennies from Heaven."

I never saw Bing Crosby again in person. Foolishly, I was too intimidated to call him and say thanks for playing along with me on that special night. Ten years later he died of a heart attack on a golf course in Spain. It hit me hard, just like losing a lifelong friend. To have that magnificent voice silenced forever-I couldn't believe it. I have never forgiven myself for not reaching out to tell him what a thrill it was to meet him and what he'd meant to me growing up.

About two years ago, however, I finally had the unexpected privilege of touring the very places where Bing had grown up. My concert booking agent from William Morris Endeavor, Kenny DiCamillo, brought me an offer from an Indian casino near Spokane, Washington. Because it's such a long haul from New York to Spokane, he wondered if I'd be interested in making that far-off trip. "Spokane!" I said. "Why, that was Bing Crosby's hometown!" I told him of course I'd love to go there to do a show, but more so to explore the actual home Crosby grew up in and Gonzaga University where Bing completed his college career. Before we even left New York, Kenny had made arrangements for me to visit the Crosby home, which during Bing's youth was located across the street from the university but now has been absorbed right onto the expanded campus grounds. Every morning Bing would pop out the kitchen door of that house and go whistling all the way to his classes.

Of course, Gonzaga remains one of the finest Jesuit universities anywhere-and the Jesuits, as you've probably heard, are known for their teaching prowess. Crosby was a terrific example of their schools' graduates. Not only was he a very good student, bright and well mannered, but it was at Gonzaga that he developed his wonderful vocabulary and elocution, which helped him deliver those songs so memorably. You can hear it in his always precise inflections, whether in song or in film or in later television appearances. He attributed all that smooth expression and eloquence to those exacting Jesuit teachers.

Anyway, Kenny and I rolled into Spokane after a long night's drive through the far Northwest. Then we checked into the historic Davenport Hotel in the heart of town. Looking out of the window of my room, right there across the street I saw the glittering marquee of the Bing Crosby Theater. This was the same theater I read about in Gary Giddins's fine Crosby biography, A Pocketful of Dreams. Back then it was called the Clemmer Theatre; Bing, in fact, worked there as a stagehand at the age of fourteen and witnessed the great Al Jolson giving one of his typically thrilling performances on that stage. The young Crosby was knocked out by the unmatchable way Jolson dominated that auditorium. Four years later, Bing happened to be working backstage again, picking up a few bucks, when Jolson returned to Spokane and was still pure dynamite in front of that Clemmer Theatre audience. More than ever, Jolson had at that moment inspired Bing to consider a career of his own in music. The two of them actually met that night (briefly, I'm sure), never knowing that in later years they would work together countless times, performing the most unforgettable duets on Bing's Kraft Music Hall radio shows. And they were a brilliant match, too: Jolson, dynamic, dramatic, over the top; and Crosby, laid-back and solid with that beautiful voice and ability to play perfect straight man for Al, while still getting his own share of laughs. I remember lying in bed listening to those shows when I was a kid. I loved them then and still do, thanks to remastered radio recordings of the two of them live together in action so long ago.

Anyway, on that first night in Spokane, I stared out my hotel window for a long time at this grand old theater, which had been renovated and renamed many times through the years until its present owner was persuaded, in 2006, by a citizen's group to at last christen it in Bing's name. I couldn't believe it; right there across the street was the place where Bing Crosby began his illustrious career, by doing the very same job that would decades later serve as my own beginnings in television. That is, we had both started out as stagehand prop house guys!

The next morning was spent wandering through the Crosby home-the one he left each day whistling as he made his way to campus nearly a hundred years ago. Now on that Gonzaga campus there's an enormous statue of Bing wearing his fedora hat, pipe in hand, presiding over everyone strolling by. But as years pass and memories fade, I wonder how many of today's young students really know just what a giant king of American culture he was. One Gonzaga building holds the Crosby archives, with its phenomenal collection of records, movies, photos, radio broadcasts, TV shows, books, magazine clippings, and articles of clothing worn by him-all of it fascinating and mind-boggling at once. He was the one who simply invented pop singing-the Voice who started it all-and everyone who followed him happily admitted as much, none more so than Frank Sinatra.

But let me add a special postscript for you here -- nearly forty years after the Bishop show went off the air, I happened to receive a package in the mail. Of course, I receive a lot of these-video or audio copies of things viewers thought I'd enjoy-and I'm certainly grateful to get them. This one was from someone in Wisconsin. It looked like another CD to me. So much material like this comes in that it's hard to keep up with it. But one day I finally got around to opening this package and, sure enough, it was a CD. I put it in my disc player . . . and I could not believe what I was hearing! It was a recording of that remarkable night when Bing Crosby and I sang to each other on Joey Bishop's show. Why I had never asked for a copy of that program after it aired, I'll never know. I've always regretted not having it...


Friday, March 2, 2012


Any fan of singer Bing Crosby or even anyone acquainted with his work or life know that the sons from his first marriage had a hard time in adulthood. Being the son of Bing Crosby, especially during the height of his fame in the 1940s and 1950s, was very hard. The four boys that Bing Crosby and Dixie Lee had all had tough lives. They had their personal demons that they dealt with - and unfortunately only one of the sons seemingly overcame the demons. Sadly, even though Phil Crosby overcame the turmoil of being the child of a superstar, he died in 2004 at the relatively young age of 69.

Born on July 13, 1934 - Phillip Crosby and his twin brother Dennis Crosby were born in Los Angeles, California. After attending a strict, Jesuit-run boarding school south of San Francisco, Phil served a stint in the Army in the mid-1950s and attended what is now Washington State University in Pullman, where he was a guard on the football team.

Chuck Morrell, the team's star fullback who shared a house with Crosby at the time, recalled that when Philip needed a car in college, his father had a driver deliver him a brand-new Chevrolet.

"He wasn't snooty or anything," Morrell, who remained lifelong friends with Crosby, told The NY Times in 2004. "He was a good, friendly guy and everybody liked him. You wouldn't know he was Bing Crosby's son."

Like his other brothers, Phil never succeeded in entertainment like his father did. Phil sang with his brothers in an act for awhile, but the group broke up as rock 'n' roll took its hold on audiences. Phil appeared with his father in a couple of movies like "Duffy's Tavern" (1945) and "Robin And The Seven Hoods"(1964), and he had more substantial roles in dramas like "Sergeants 3" (1962) and "None But The Brave"(1965).

Phil appeared as a solo singer on The Ed Sullivan show in the late 1960s where he sang a great version of "Let There Be Love". He also appeared with papa Bing on a Hollywood Palace show on April 5, 1969 where he sang with Bing and recreated the songs that Bing and brother Gary had recorded 15 years earlier. Phil also later started a country music label named after his mother Dixie Lee, and recorded some great country western songs.

Like his brothers, Phil Crosby was also married numerous times. He was married four times and had five children - his youngest son, Phil Crosby Jr, is an accomplished musician and singer - who is quite talented in his own right. I recently talked to Phil Jr. and he said that his father should be remembered as "a loyal son, who loved and admired his parents very much. He had a great voice that was unique amongst the Crosbys. He had many friends that appreciated even his late night calls and would receive them and talk for hours and considered him a good conversationalist."

On October 14, 1977 Bing Crosby died. Tragedy struck Phil again a year later when his oldest son Brian Patrick Crosby was killed in a motorcycle crash at the age of 18. Phil remained on good terms with his brothers after Bing died with the exception of Gary. Phil has been quoted as saying that "My dad was not the monster my lying brother said he was, he was strict, but my father never beat us black and blue and my brother Gary was a vicious, no-good liar for saying so. I have nothing but fond memories of dad, going to studios with him, family vacations at our cabin in Idaho, boating and fishing with him. To my dying day, I'll hate Gary for dragging dad's name through the mud."

Phillip gave his final performance at an Elk’s Club party in Burbank in 1983. Phil's youngest brother Lindsay died in 1989, and his twin brother Dennis followed in 1991. (Gary later died in 1995). Despited outliving his brothers, son Phil Jr said his father's health was not good: "His last years were not good. His death could have been avoided if anyone had looked in on him and saw to it that he was taking his prescribed heart medication. But he had pretty much insulated himself and become a shut-in."

There has been rumors through the years that the Crosby boys from Bing's first marriage did not get along with Kathryn Crosby and Bing's second family. Phil Jr wanted to settle the record on that: "My father never spoke ill about Kathryn, that I know of. I don't believe he blamed her for not being in his Fathers will. She was very congenial to me when I met her, introducing me from the stage at Bing's Academy Centennial and standing by my side holding my hand at my fathers funeral. I thought that was very good of her. She also told the audience in Beverly Hills that she thought Phil had the best voice of the boys."

Even though Phil Crosby did not get the fame that I think he deserved, he passed down a lot of talent to his youngest son Phil Jr, who is carrying on the Crosby legacy in music. Phil Jr says that "growing up Crosby was a unique experience. I enjoyed watching the road pictures and every Christmas was a little more special for me. Sometimes it could be strange when I was little and didnt understand peoples reaction to my last name, though."

Phil Crosby Jr is currently working on some new exciting projects: "I'm producing my show 'Finding My Way' a jazz swing, cabaret, song and story, dance and musical history journey and personl reflection on my grandfather and his family and famous friends and the music of the twentieth century. Should be good." It is definitely something that would make his grandfather and his father proud...