The Musicians Take The Cake

Discussion in 'Radio' started by happyfilmluvguy, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. happyfilmluvguy

    happyfilmluvguy Call Me a Cab

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    From Bing Crosby to Benny Goodman, musicians had a definite spot on the radio with their own variety shows, musical specials, and comedy hours. Jo Stafford had a radio program, so as did Peggy Lee. Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor had their own programs but always took the time to swap guest appearances. What other programs were jam packed with the musician?
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Rudy Vallee's Fleischmann's Yeast/Royal Gelatin Hour (1929-1939) -- the *ultimate* radio variety program, and the launching board for dozens of important radio personalities. Musicians were always very important components of the guest list, working in every genre from classical to opera to vaudeville to English music hall to Broadway to Harlem nightclub. If a performer was *anybody* during the thirties, he or she had to appear with Vallee at least once -- the program was to the thirties what Ed Sullivan's show was to the fifties and sixties.

    Vallee is also notable for having an absolutely color-blind booking policy -- he regularly featured top African-American talent on an equal basis with white performers.

    Vallee was also a thorough archivist -- beginning in 1932, he had recordings made of all of his programs, and many of these survive today. I've had the pleasure of doing transfers from a number of discs from his collection, and they always make for fascinating listening.
     
  3. Absinthe_1900

    Absinthe_1900 One Too Many

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    I always got a kick out of Rudy Vallee having Harry "The Hipster" Gibson on his later 40's radio show, talk about an unusual pairing.
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  4. nick1909

    nick1909 Registered User

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    Dottie and Dinah

    I always liked The Sealtest Variety Theater with Dorothy Lamour. Too bad it only lasted one season!
    And of course, the lovely and delightful Dinah Shore had several programs through-out the good old days of radio before going on to a long television career!
     
  5. happyfilmluvguy

    happyfilmluvguy Call Me a Cab

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    Any others?
     
  6. Rafter

    Rafter Suspended

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    The Chesterfield Supper Club was an NBC musical variety radio program (1944-50)
    sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes and featured live musical performances.

    Perry Como hosted The Chesterfield Supper Club (NBC-Radio 1944-50) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while Jo Stafford was the host on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Beginning in 1948, singer Peggy Lee was added to the roster, taking over the Thursday broadcast.


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    During the first year, Como was backed by the Ted Steele orchestra, followed by the Lloyd Schaffer orchestra at the end of 1945.

    According to a 1948 magazine advertisement, Como was broadcast from New York, backed by the Mitchell Ayres orchestra. Stafford and Lee broadcast from Hollywood. Stafford was backed by her future husband Paul Weston and his orchestra. Peggy Lee was backed by her husband, Dave Barbour, and his orchestra.

    The show featured musical performances by the host, along with various guest singers and orchestras, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Eddie Fisher, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Nat King Cole, Victor Borge and others.
     
  7. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    A few more off the top of my head...

    "The Kate Smith Hour" was hugely popular in the thirties, although only a mere handful of recordings survive today. Her program was a variety hour in the Vallee mold, and was notable for giving Henny Youngman and Abbott and Costello their first breaks on the air.

    "Sponsored orchestras" were one of the first big trends in radio, starting in the twenties -- dance bands which took the names of their backers and emphasised that motif in their broadcasts. Some of the best known were the Ipana Troubadours, directed by Sam Lanin; the Clicquot Club Eskimos, led by Harry Reser; the A & P Gypsies, led by Harry Horlick; and the B. F. Goodrich Silvertown Cord Orchestra, directed by Joseph M. Knecht, and featuring vocals by the Silver Masked Tenor. Many of these bands featured sidemen who would go on to become very important figures in the swing era.

    A very young incarnation of the Mills Brothers, billed as "Four Boys and a Guitar," had their own program beginning in 1931 and continuing for several years -- this was the height of their "no musical instruments used other than one guitar" phase, where they'd imitate an entire orchestra with their voices.

    Louis Armstrong headlined his own variety program in 1936-37, and remained a frequent guest star on other programs in later years.

    Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge was a huge success beginning in 1938 and continuing for over a decade -- a cross between a dance-music program, a variety hour, and a quiz show.

    Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra headlined their own shows steadily from the late twenties to the late thirties.

    Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians were another popular stage band that found great success in radio -- they were on the air for various sponsors for over twenty years.

    There were also plenty of musical anthology series which showcased different bands each week -- one of the best was the Saturday Night Swing Club on CBS during 1936-38. Bunny Berigan led the house band, and just about everyone who was anyone in the swing movement made guest appearances.
     
  8. dhermann1

    dhermann1 I'll Lock Up

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    Of course, the Metropolitan Opera had some music in it, also.
     
  9. Rafter

    Rafter Suspended

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    Here's one you didn't come up with, Lizzie!

    Gordon MacRae's "The Railroad Hour", another musical show from the golden age of radio.

    It had a run on ABC for a year starting in October 1948.
    The show moved to NBC in October 1949 and continued until June of 1954.
    The Railroad Hour which was sponsored by The Association Of American Railroads presented operettas and musical dramatizations, all starring Gordon and many different leading ladies including Dinah Shore, Jane Powell, Dorothy Kirsten, Lucille Norman, Ginny Simms, and Dorothy Warenskjold.
    Music was provided by The Carmen Dragon Orchestra along with the Norman Luboff Choir.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. 52Styleline

    52Styleline A-List Customer

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    GI Jive
    The Ginny Simms Show
    Jubilee (black artists)
    Kraft Music Hall
     

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