Sunday, October 27, 2019


This is taken from the linear notes to the excellent Bing collection: Bing Crosby the Crooner The Columbia Years 1928-1934. The linear notes was by Michael Brooks, who was a very objective fan...

God, he must have been a complex personality. Here was a man who remained at the top of his profession for nearly half a century, with a vast fortune amassed by intelligence, guile and a hard-nosed awareness of his own talents, and still the public swallowed the whole lazy, 'call me lucky' routine. It must have amused him to project that image, yet I suppose there was enough of the mythical Crosby in the real Crosby to make it all believable.

"Then there are the stories of his extreme frugality, of his riding buses and subways when he could have hired a fleet of limosines. And the coldness he often showed towards his friends. Louis Armstrong once stated that in all the years he knew Bing, he was never once invited to his home, and it's almost mandatory to draw racial implications from that.

"But I believe that Crosby, unlike many people of his generation, was lacking in the more virulent forms of racial prejudice. Certainly he wouldn't have loved jazz the way he did and hold extreme views, yet he was an intensely private person. Cork O'Keefe, his former manager, and friend up to the time of his death, has a story to tell.

"Cork O'Keefe..'I was in Hollywood on business in the late 1930's and Bing invited me to his home. People couldn't believe it, because no one got to see him there. So I asked him about it and he said, 'You know, Cork, quite early on I made it a rule never to entertain friends at home. I work damned hard during the day and I want to rest and relax when I get home at night. Out here, all people want to do is party and socialize. It got so that I'd meet someone on the set for the first time and the next thing they'd be standing on my doorstep with a bunch of friends expecting to be invited in and entertained. So, my home's off limits to everyone. You're an exception because you're from New York and I know you won't abuse the privilege. But that's my general rule, and I'm sticking to it.' '

"Likewise, stories of his meanness are just that... stories! Bing never spent money for money's sake, on himself or on anyone else. He had more money than most people could ever hope to attain in the way of worldly goods, and he didn't see the point of adding to them just for the sake of acquisitiveness. But he did help a lot of people when they were in need: Mildred Bailey [Al Rinker's sister]; Jack Teagarden; Joe Venuti; Fud Livingston. And he contributed vast sums of money to deserving charities on the strict understanding that his actions receive no publicity.

"My own personal involvement with the great man was minuscule. I met him for the first and only time about a year before his death, and I was as nervous and excited as a kid chosen to present a trophy to a sports superstar. He was staying in New York just across from the Metropolitan Museum and as I waited for him in the lobby of his apartment building, I saw him come through the door. He was smaller than I expected and his face, though deeply lined, was instantly recognizable, right down to those icy-blue eyes. And, typically Crosby, he was carrying a bundle of dry-cleaning under his arm when the place was full of flunkies to execute such menial tasks.

"It was awful! I got the fish-eye treatment in spades.First of all, he denied knowing about the appointment though it had been set up in advance through his agent. Then he was utterly intransigent, blocking every one of my questions skillfully with 'No, I don't remember singing that song at all,' 'No, that was too long ago,' and 'No, I don't recall such a musician,' until my carefully planned interview lay in ruins and I cursed the day I went into a record store and vouth my first Crosby 78.

"It took me months to get over the experience and come to the conclusion that Bing Crosby was a man, very human, and probably, when I saw him, very tired. But we elevate people of stature to the levels of gods, and while we fawn on them we demand total obedience, ordering them to smile and be gracious while we claw at them and bellow inanities in their ears. If they slip and allow themselves the luxury of telling some cretin to go f--k himself, we immediately howl that they have forgotten the public who made them. And I understand the sound common sense of his 'private person' philosophy, which probably extended his career and his life by decades."

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Yesterday, on the anniversary of the untimely death of the world’s first ‘multimedia’ star Bing Crosby, his longtime record label, Decca, together with his widow Kathryn and their children, Harry, Mary and Nathaniel Crosby, announced the brand new album Bing At Christmas, will be released on November 22nd.

Bing’s is The voice that is completely synonymous with Christmas. Now, Bing Crosby’s utterly distinctive original vocals are set to newly-recorded orchestral arrangements, performed by the UK’s most prestigious orchestra, The London Symphony Orchestra, on an album that breathes new life into the best Christmas songs in existence.

This album gives the world the chance to hear these beloved tracks totally transformed, with today’s technical advances. Bing At Christmas has a unique sound and warmth that sets it apart from past Bing Crosby releases and was produced by Nick Patrick, who was behind the hugely successful Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly orchestral albums.

Kathryn Crosby explained, “Hearing Bing’s voice with these completely new, beautifully recorded, orchestral accompaniments makes it seem as though he’s back after all these years. It’s magic.”

Bing At Christmas features fourteen classic Bing Crosby Christmas songs including his biggest hit, the 1942 Decca recording of ‘White Christmas’. This track is not only the epitome of Christmas in song, but the world’s best-selling single, with sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide and, more recently, achieving over 1.8 billion streams. It is also the most-recorded song of all time. Despite these staggering sales figures, the song has never been No.1 in the UK. This year, the Crosby family wants to change that and, in Bing’s memory, get this newly-orchestrated version to the top of the charts.

The song resonated especially strongly with listeners during World War II. It had a huge impact on their lives, both young soldiers serving in the forces as well as their families back home. Just after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Bing Crosby introduced a broadcast of the single on Christmas Day 1941, which led to The Armed Forces Network being flooded with requests for the song. At a time when people needed it the most, this simple song was extremely powerful in its healing qualities – and has continued to provide comfort to people all over the world for nearly 80 years.

Joining Bing on an additional, special version of ‘White Christmas’ is the multi-Grammy Award winning a cappella group Pentatonix, whose voices fit perfectly with Crosby’s.

Bing At Christmas also features exquisite arrangements of ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’, ‘The Christmas Song’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy’, on which David Bowie joins in a duet recorded in September 1977, just a month before Bing died.

No-one has dominated the music scene for so many decades and touched so many people’s lives –and with the release of this record, which combines the authenticity of Bing Crosby’s original tracks with state-of-the-art recordings transforming his best-loved songs and bringing them back to the charts, no-one ever will.

The full tracklisting for Bing At Christmas is:
1. ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’
2. ‘Sleigh Ride’
3. ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’
4. ‘White Christmas’ (feat. Pentatonix)
5. ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’
6. ‘Jingle Bells’ (with The Andrew Sisters feat. The Puppini Sisters)
7. ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
8. ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’
9. ‘The Christmas Song’
10. ‘Little Drummer Boy’ (with David Bowie)
11. ‘Twelve Days Of Christmas’ (feat. The Puppini Sisters)
12. ‘Winter Wonderland’
13. ‘The Christmas Song’ (feat. The Tenors)
14. ‘White Christmas’ (Bing solo)

You can buy the CD HERE

Monday, October 14, 2019


Bing's recording output began diminishing dramatically in the late 1960s. From 1969 through 1974 he recorded only two albums. One was a Christmas album ("A Time to be Jolly") and the other was with Count Basie and his orchestra ("Bing 'n' Basie"). Moreover, by the end of 1973 Bing was not well. He suffered from chest pains and fever. On New Year's Eve he felt so ill that he consented to be hospitalized. Both Bing and Kathryn thought he had lung cancer. On Jan. 13 a tumor the size of a small orange was removed from Bing's left lung. But the tumor was not cancerous. It was the result of a rare fungal infection that Bing had probably picked up on an overseas safari the previous year.

Bing's recovery was slow, but when he did recover he returned with a renewed vigor. He recorded 10 albums the last three years of his life and began performing live concerts again, which he had not done since World War II. During one of these concerts, a nationally-televised celebration of his 50th anniversary in show business in March 1977, Bing fell backwards into an orchestra pit and ruptured a disc in his back. He was hospitalized for a month, but in August resumed a hectic schedule. He flew to Oslo, Norway, to do a concert, and then to England to tape his Christmas special, "Bing Crosby's Merry Olde Christmas," which included Twiggy and David Bowie as guests. On Sept. 12-14 he recorded his final album, "Seasons," with the Pete Moore Orchestra.

Bing's next stop was a two-week engagement at the London Palladium with his family, comedian Ted Rogers and Rosemary Clooney. Then he and his troup moved on to Brighton where they performed their final concert on Oct. 10 to a sold-out theatre. The next day he dropped by the BBC studios as a guest on the Alan Dell radio show. Here he sang 8 songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. His last song was the nostalgic "Once in a While." BBC Records later released these recordings on disc, "Bing: The Final Chapter" (BBC-22398). Later that day Bing posed for pictures for his "Seasons" album, including the photo shown here. The next day Bing flew to Spain to play golf...

Monday, October 7, 2019


When people of a certain age hear the name Bing Crosby, what comes to mind is the multi-talented singer and actor with the greasy slicked back blond hair and an uncanny ability to land roles in movies between 1930 and 1960, especially the so-called “road pictures” with comedian and lifelong foil Bob Hope.

Bing Crosby had two families which gave him countless grandchildren, including another Bing Crosby who was bestowed with his grandfather’s name but never fell to the perils of addiction. However, he is a Crosby who decided to tackle the issue that caused his family and millions of other families a tremendous amount of pain.

“Alcoholism has run in my family for as long as I can recall,” he says. “Being the grandson of Bing Crosby, I’ve heard stories of how Bing, in his earlier years, drank a lot, which led into his wife Dixie. I heard she became an alcoholic because of him which led to her ovarian cancer.”

The younger Bing Crosby also recalls having friendships that were affected by addiction and talks about how many people he grew up with had substance abuse problems. One friend became addicted to pills for 10 years and spent a lot of his life in and out of jail. Crosby says another friend shot himself.

Yet, it was someone else who has been sober for 30 years that ultimately drove Crosby to South County’s New Method Wellness Center.

“It was my wife,” he says. “It was her dream to always own a rehab center. I kind of just tagged along for the ride, but now that I’ve got into it, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The feeling you get helping others; there’s no better feeling than hearing the story of someone who lost everything and is back on track, back with their kids, back with their wives. It’s an unbelievable feeling. Once you feel that, it gets you.”

Ed and Susie Hopsom-Blum opened the clinic in 2006, and Crosby’s wife Deanna became the clinical director there. After her hiring, an opportunity arose for Crosby to become a New Method Wellness Center business partner, and he says he couldn’t turn his back on it considering his family’s and friends’ histories as substance abusers.

The facility began operating in the big Chase building in Mission Viejo, where about eight patients a month were served, but it later relocated to San Juan Capistrano, where 40 to 50 patients a month are being treated. Various communal homes house patients in the rehab so that their environment maintains the same atmosphere and doesn’t waver from the goal that everyone has toward recovery. From the live-in homes, where patients are separated by gender, they are dropped off every morning at the Wellness Center, where they spend days doing activities, building relationships and learn to live sober lives.

Center activities revolve around therapy: not only traditional, one-on-one talk therapy but various forms of cognitive, emotional, psychological, holistic, art-based and environmental therapies.

New Method also provides physical therapy such as yoga or, in the great outdoors, surfing, horseback riding, which is referred to equine therapy, and wilderness therapy. These types of activities aim to produce natural endorphins that are vital to recovery because they bring the same joy that getting high brings, except in a natural and safe way.

The center is still expanding as another building adjacent to the one they’re using now was acquired. They plan on moving the clinical part of the center to the new building and keeping the administrative functions in the one being used now.

“We’re just going to keep rolling and see what comes next,” Crosby says. “Our next event we have is an alumni picnic in December. All of our alumni will come, we’ll get a taco truck, we’ll play games and have fun at the beach.”