Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ANDY WILLIAMS (1927-2012)

(CBS News) Singer Andy Williams died at his home in Branson, Mo., on Tuesday after a year-long battle with bladder cancer, according to his publicist Paul Shefrin. He was 84.

A best-selling singer in the 1950s, Williams became a TV star in the '60s with his own weekly show and a series of holiday classics.

Born Dec. 3, 1927, in Wall Lake, Iowa, Williams started his music career at the age of eight as part of the Williams Brothers Quartet, featuring his three brothers: Bob, Dick and Don. The singing group was heard on the radio show, "Iowa's Barn Dance Show," in Des Moines, Iowa, before getting picked up by stations in Chicago and Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1944, the quartet recorded the hit "Swinging on a Star," which led to even more success, as the group began touring the country.

The brothers group disbanded in 1951, prompting Williams to move to New York in hopes of starting a solo career. While there, the Iowa native became a regular on Steve Allen's "Tonight Show." He soon landed a record deal with Candence Records and scored a top 10 hit with "Canadian Sunset." Many 1950s hits followed including "Butterfly," "Lonely Street" and "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" for which he received the first of his five Grammy nominations.  He made TV appearances, and by the early 1960s, he signed with Columbia Records and became a hit-making machine with the Oscar-winning song, "Moon River" from the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's," starring Audrey Hepburn.

Williams' TV career took off in 1962 with the start of "The Andy Williams Show," a weekly series on NBC. The show lasted nine years and would go on to win three Emmy Awards for best musical/variety series. It was around this time that Williams' annual holiday specials, featuring the Williams family, became classics.

He opened the Andy Williams Moon River Theater in Branson in 1992, where he performed for sold-out crowds through the years. In 2001, he told The Associated Press, "I'll keep going until I get to the point where I can't get out on stage." Williams continued to perform even after his cancer diagnoses in 2011.

Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian....


Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Master satirist Randy Newman makes his voice heard this election season with "I'm Dreaming," using Irving Berlin an Bing Crosby as a starting point to humorously target those that he suspects oppose President Obama on the basis of the color of his skin.

As you would suspect, it's funny, starting with the opening line, "I'm dreaming of a white President / Just like the ones we've always had." In this morning's Slate, estimable sometime Inquirer contributor Ben Yagoda talks to Newman and asks him how he knows, as Newman has put it, "there are a lot of people who don't want a black person in the White House and they want to get him out."

"Well, I don’t know, partly because no one, and I mean no one, would admit feeling that way," the Oscar-winning Toy Story and Rednecks songwriter replies. "Still, it’s clear that there are lots of people out there who are uncomfortable. The Civil War was a long time ago but there are aspects of it that remain unsettled, I think. Early on in Obama’s term, there was heat generated by issues that you wouldn’t think would cause such passion. Even the term “Obamacare,” the way it’s spit out, like he was some kind of witch doctor. Maybe I’m overly sensitive to the issue, but I don’t think so. There’s an edge to things that normally wouldn’t have an edge. I thought it was a little extra."

The song is available for free, but Newman is encouraging donations to the United Negro College Fund at


Friday, September 21, 2012


Here is an interesting blurb I found on the internet regarding Bing's nephew Howard Crosby...

Sometimes things just write themselves:

“Singer Bing Crosby’s geologist nephew, Howard, a major shareholder in a recent AIM IPO Black Mountain Resources Limited, is on the road in London this week with the board of directors as they 'Look for the Silver Lining’ for their silver play in the US. Crosby, with 'Silverbells’ on is telling London how they are 'Gonna Build a Mountain’ with their near-term production in Idaho and Montana.”

Glad to see he’s not riding on his uncle’s coat tails."


Thursday, September 20, 2012


At 10: 30 p.m. on Sept. 20, 1948, a special train rolled into the Great Northern Railway Station on the False Creek flats. Two thou-sand people anxiously waited for the occupants to disembark, and when Bing Crosby finally appeared, it was bedlam.

"The groaner's appearance in the doorway of the train's drawing room touched off a mad stampede of starry-eyed and autograph-hunting fans," reported Bill Fletcher in The Vancouver Sun. A "flying wedge" of police was needed to help Crosby through the assembled multitude.

Crosby was in town to record his Philco radio show at the Forum, a performance that was a fundraiser for a proposed Sunset Community Centre. At the time, he was arguably the most popular singer in the world, so getting him to record his radio show here was quite a coup.

Vancouver welcomed him like a long-lost son. He was a guest editor of the Sun's sports section, writing two stories for the paper. Acting Mayor George Miller gave him the key to the city.

Squamish first nation chief Joe Mathias made Crosby an honorary chief of the band, dubbing him Big Chief Thundervoice onstage at the Forum.

Eight thousand people showed up for the Crosby show Sept. 22, raising $33,000 for the community centre project. Crosby not only performed with guests Ray Milland and Marilyn Maxwell, he drove a bulldozer at the community centre site to begin excavations. A year later, he came back when it opened, and gave a performance before 1,500 fans at the centre.

The native of Tacoma was so impressed with Vancouver, and B.C., he regularly returned for vacations and fishing trips...


Monday, September 17, 2012


Fans of Bing Crosby have been divided into two camps since 1957 - those that like his first wife Dixie Lee, and those that like his second wife Kathryn Grant. Love her or hate her, Kathryn Grant was a strikingly beautiful starlet when she was starting out in movies in the 1950s. Here are some of her younger pictures:

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Bing and Leslie Gaylor
I was an active member of the various Bing Crosby fan clubs from 1991-2011. I miss the old days of involvment in the clubs, when each fan member became a close friend. Fans would share music via cassettes and later CDs, and it was so much fun finding people that had a common interest. I remember the first cassette I got included Bing's last American made recording "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" from April of 1977. I don't have the cassette anymore, I can remember my first involvement in the Crosby club like it was yesterday. I made a lot of lasting friendships from the association in those clubs, and I cherish each and every one of the friends. It got me thinking to those golden years of club members - who was/is the biggest Bing Crosby fan?

I would nominate the late Leslie Gaylor as the biggest fan myself. He not only collected Bing, but he got to meet the legendary crooner during his lifetime. I have a few letters from Leslie, and I treasure them to this day. He was a humble man, and he never acted like he had a complete collection or boasted that he got to know Bing. Sadly, Gaylor would not live long enough to see the Bing Crosby centennial celebrations in 2003. He died in 2000 at the age of 78.

Here are some other choices:

(From Richard "Jarbie" Baker):
How does one measure greatness, (apart from girth)?

There are those who had notable collections of Bing related material, there are the long term, there are those who for other some reasons become prominent - the editors and compilers of magazines, the initiators and members of the various groups. All deserve a mention. Then there are those who badger radio DJs, record producers, radio and TV programmers and the like. Amongst other things, Leslie Gaylor was indeed active in that area.

But surely the Gold Medal should go to the likes of Lionel Pairpoint, Colin Pugh and Fred Reynolds for the extraordinary pure original research which they undertook in comparing and identifying origins and differences between takes, the origins of individual tracks in radio shows and the like. Ralph Harding, Bob Roberts and Derek Parkes are worthy companions in this list which must also include Malcolm MacFarlane, who not only edits "Bing" but also undertook the massive original research contained in "Bing Crosby - Day By Day".

(From Cathie Wilson):
I would have to submit Hobie Wilson's name in notable collectors of Bing Crosby music starting with his first78 rpm at age 15, His folks bought him a "wire" recorder (yes a wire recorder) where he recorded many of Bing's early radio show. He progressed to better equiptment as time went on using magnetic tape and God knows what else. - He had a local radio show here in Petaluma (KTOB) where he played Crosby and alternated with other elements of his collection such as big band, dixieland etc. - The Bing's Friends and Collectors Newsletter was made up of elements from his scrap books that he has kept over the years. Elements of that collection kept the publication up and running for 28 years.

(From Steve Fay):
Steven Lewis does have to be right up there near the top, considering how many other fans he helped!


There are so many dedicated Bing Crosby fans out there - ones of the past and ones just discovering the magic that was and is Bing Crosby - long may it continue...


Sunday, September 9, 2012


According to the details provided by the site credited below, this picture is from August of 1944, a few months before the band leader disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel.

Of course, he couldn't have known. But Bing almost looks as if he's already worried about the gentleman who gave us “Moonlight Serenade” and “In the Mood.”


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Bing Crosby's Family In Court
By City News Service

Mary Crosby was ordered to grant a neighbor access to Malibu property that she owned. . The daughter of legendary crooner Bing Crosby was ordered today by a Los Angeles judge to allow her Malibu neighbor to traverse her land to reach a public area where the woman rides horses.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson also told Mary Crosby, who famously shot Larry Hagman's J.R. character in the original "Dallas'' series, and her spouse, attorney Mark Brodka, to give Susan Demers a remote-control device that will open a gate the couple relocated and modified along an access road in May 2011.

Demers maintains that when she bought her property in 1987, it included easements giving her the right to pass over a part of the Crosby-Brodka property. But attorney James Pazos, representing the actress and her husband, said the easements were eliminated years earlier. Johnson was not convinced.

"Then why was she allowed to ride horses there for so many years?,'' the judge asked. Demers' lawyer, David Olson, said the easements were never eliminated. "This is kind of a Hail Mary argument,'' Olson said.

Olson said the 63-year-old Demers suffers from pulmonary hypertension and asked that the gate be simply left open in case she loses or misplaces the electronic device. However, the judge said she would have to settle for having the gate opener.

In a sworn statement opposing the preliminary injunction, Mary Crosby stated that she has dealt with stalkers for many years because of her "Dallas'' fame and worries about her security.

"A couple of the stalkers seemed harmless,'' she said. "However, one of the stalkers, William Casey, was very scary and threatening. Casey showed up at my house one day. When my husband approached him and said he was married to me, Casey said, 'Well, she was my wife first.'''

Since the debut of the second "Dallas'' series, there has been "an increase in both nice and crazy communications,'' Crosby said. Crosby said Demers worked for many years for Kelsey Grammer at his ranch and that she rarely rode her horses through the couple's property even after the gate was first installed in 2000.

Demers did not demand an automatic gate opener until June 2010, according to Crosby. That same month, an excavator dug a path around the gate and said he was hired by Demers to do so, according to Crosby, who maintains that Demers does not need to use the Crosby-Brodka easement to get to the area where she rides her horses.

The preliminary injunction is good until April 15, when the judge will hold a non-jury trial on the issues. Outside the courtroom, Pazos declined to comment on whether he is optimistic for a different outcome at trial.

Brokda attended today's hearing, but Crosby was not present. The 52-year- old daughter of Bing Crosby and his second wife, Kathryn Grant, she and her husband began the litigation by suing Demers and her friend, Martha Gwinn, in Los Angeles Superior Court in December 2010.

Crosby and Brodka's suit asks a judge to determine whether Demers and Gwinn have any rights to cross over the couple's property. They have lived in a rustic area on Barrymore Drive above Pacific Coast Highway since 1982. Demers, a horse trainer, and Gwinn, who rents a residential unit on her property, then filed a cross-complaint alleging nuisance and trespass and later filed the preliminary injunction request...


Monday, September 3, 2012


Mention the name of Larry Kiner to any avid Bing Crosby collector in the 1980s and 1990s, and he was a like a god to them. Larry specialized in rare radio broadcasts of Bing and other great stars of the day. With the closing of his company (Redmond Nostalgia) last year, I wanted to revisit what a great man he was...

Larry Kiner, Parlayed His Love Of Old-Time Music Into A Career
By Carole Beers

Larry Kiner knew something was wrong, seeing that stranger dash from a Georgetown bank. So, as if in an old radio show, Mr. Kiner followed the man's car, sticking with it until he could flag down police and finger the suspect.

The next year, 1970, Mr. Kiner created Redmond Nostalgia Co. - specializing in records of old-time radio shows and music - which he'd begun with the several-hundred-dollar reward he had received for helping nab the bank robber.

A letter of thanks from J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the FBI, was another reward, said Mr. Kiner's son Michael of Kirkland.

"He was really proud of that letter," said his son. "It was one of his prized possessions."

Mr. Kiner, old-time hero and old-music buff, died Friday (July 22) of cancer. He was 64.

Born in Milwaukee, Mr. Kiner liked to play piano and loved music of the 1920s and 1930s. The tall, quiet boy began collecting records when he was 12. In 1934 the family moved to Seattle, where Mr. Kiner attended Broadview Elementary School, Seattle Prep and Lincoln High School. He switched high schools, according to his son David of Kirkland, "because he was trying to find a school with a good baseball team. He was a pitcher."

One of Mr. Kiner's daughters, Lt. Katherine Kiner of Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, said, "Dad also pitched one season with a semipro club in Bremerton around 1949." Mr. Kiner in later years would take his children to Seattle Pilots and Mariners games - and to spring training in Arizona.

After his family moved to Santa Monica, Calif., in 1950, Mr. Kiner finished school, then worked in electronic-parts engineering, production and sales. The family moved to Seattle in 1967. He ran some ads in a magazine and began selling tapes of radio shows.

Losing a job helped propel him into producing records of rare broadcasts by Al Jolson and Bing Crosby. He signed 100 aging stars in two years and had records pressed in California and Canada, selling to stores, distributors and mail-order clients.

His robbery reward helped buy equipment and records, a few of which had been made from live broadcasts in wartime. Mr. Kiner collected some 4,000 reels of tape with 40,000 radio shows. He got to travel, and to meet stars such as Rudy Vallee and Cliff Edwards, the voice of Disney's "Jiminy Cricket."

He wrote several books about the stars. He was working on a book about Bing Crosby. He also composed songs - "mostly like the old crooners used to sing," said his daughter. "He recently had played for a show featuring an Eastside dance group, `Tap Happy.' Music was his life."

She said Mr. Kiner, a "to-the-point kind of person" who had an old-fashioned sense of humor, was one of those lucky few who could turn a hobby into a career. His son David inherited the interest in old music . . . and the business. Other survivors include Mr. Kiner's son Steven and daughter Susan Lybyer of Kirkland, and seven grandchildren. Mr. Kiner's wife, Patricia, died in 1991. A memorial service was scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church, 308 Fourth Ave. S., Kirkland...