Sunday, 19 May 2019

Georgie Auld born 19 May 1919

Georgie Auld (May 19, 1919 – January 8, 1990) was a jazz tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, and bandleader. His saxophone shows up on some of the greatest sides of the Big Band Era. Be it small group settings or in the backdrop of a big band, Auld could adapt his expressive style to a wide variety of moods and contexts.

Auld was born John Altwerger in Toronto, Canada, and moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1929. Before the family left Canada, Auld's parents gave him a saxophone, which he taught himself to play and began to entertain guests in the family saloon.

When only 7 years old he was receiving several dollars a week in tips and became convinced that he could earn a living as a musician. Altwerger--who later changed his name to Auld for stage purposes--formed a band in New York when he was 13. Began playing alto clarinet in 1930 and won a Rudy Wiedoft scholarship in 1931. From alto sax he switched to tenor sax in 1935 after hearing a Coleman Hawkins recording.

He became a member of Bunny Berigan's orchestra in 1937 and remained with Berigan until early December of 1938. Later that same month Auld joined Artie Shaw's orchestra and began a grueling schedule of record dates and engagements at the most popular hotels and ballrooms in the country. This band was at the top of its game, broadcasting often from the Cafe' Rouge of the Hotel Pennsylvania and The Blue Room of the Hotel Lincoln in New York as well as the Summer Terrace Room of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston. It was also heard regularly on the Old Gold "Melody And Madness" radio show. Auld eventually led the band for nearly three months after the moody Artie Shaw took one of his sojourns away from the music business. In January of 1940 the song Juke Box Jump was recorded by the former Artie Shaw
band now under the leadership of Auld.

Georgie Auld was with Jan Savitt briefly in 1940. What grabbed the attention of jazz buffs that same year was his participation on several sessions with a cast of all-stars who backed Billie Holiday in September and October. In November he joined Benny Goodman's aggregation remaining with him for about a year. Goodman immediately used Auld as part of the Benny Goodman Sextet as on November 7th the group waxed the tune Wholly Cats. Along with Charlie Christian, Cootie Williams, and on occasion Count Basie on piano, this group created some of the most brilliant and exciting small group jazz sides to come out of the big band era. After departing Goodman, Auld joined yet another band led by Artie Shaw from 1941 to 1942. After a stint in the Army in '43, he formed his own big band leading it from 1944-6.


This Georgie Auld Orchestra recorded some interesting sides that at times used elements of bebop but for the most part still retained a melodic flowing rhythm. In 1946 doctors discovered that Auld had tuberculosis. He was only semi active for a few years, until his 
health recovered, but in 1948 formed a 10-piece band, his style having changed to that of the more modern bebop style players. Later that year, he disbanded and opened his own club in New York called The Troubadour on 52nd Street and appeared in the Broadway show The Rat Race. In 1950 he briefly worked with Count Basie's sextet.

In 1951 Auld moved back to California because of health issues and while living in Hollywood in 1954 opened another night club called the Melody Room. In 1955 and '56 he once again had his own big band, this a 20-piece group that featured Jimmie Lunceford style arrangements written
by Billy May. In 1958 he returned to New York City to do studio work and record, making numerous appearances on Art Ford’s TV “Jazz Party”. Auld also played some rock´n roll working for Alan Freed in 1959.

In 1967 he became music director for Tony Martin, freelanced as a studio musician and toured frequently in Japan and Europe. By 1975 had recorded nearly 20 albums. He can be heard playing sax on the 1968 Ella Fitzgerald album 30 by Ella. In 1977 he played a bandleader in the motion picture New York, New York, starring Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro and also acted as a technical consultant for the film.

He last appeared in Los Angeles in April, 1989, at the Grand Avenue Bar of the Biltmore Hotel where Times jazz critic Leonard Feather found "renewed evidence of a sound and style that have defied the inroads of time." Auld died on January 8, 1990, in Palm Springs, California, aged 70.

(Edited from various sources mainly SwingMusic net.)

Here's Georgie Auld on tenor sax with Les Brown and his Band of Renown at the "1983 Aurex Jazz Festival" 

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Fran Jeffries born 18 May 1937

Fran Jeffries (born Frances Ann Makris; May 18, 1937 – December 15, 2016) was an American multi-talented singer, dancer, actress, and model.

Jeffries & Haymes
She was born Frances Ann Makris in Mayfield, Calif., near Palo Alto. Her father, Stephen, was a Greek immigrant who moved the family to San Jose to open a restaurant when she was young. Her mother, the former Esther Gautier, was a homemaker.

In her early teens Frances won a local talent contest, the Del Courtney Amateur Hour, performing the Betty Grable song “What Did I Do?” She took home a Bulova watch and a sack of groceries. After graduating from high school she began singing in San Francisco nightclubs as part of a trio. One night she found herself on the same bill with Mr. Haymes, a crooning balladeer in his 40s. They formed a duo, married and for the next several years enjoyed success in nightclubs, cabarets and Las Vegas casinos.

Ms. Jeffries’s first marriage, to the pianist Ed Blasco in 1955, had ended in divorce, as would her marriage to three subsequent husbands. Dick Haymes (17 November 1958 - 12 January 1965), Richard Quine         (1965 - 10 June 1969)  & Steven Schaeffer (16 March 1971 – 1973.)

After appearing in a bit part in the 1958 film “The Buccaneer,” this was followed by "The Pink Panther" (1963); the latter in which she sings "Meglio Stasera" ("It Had Better Be Tonight")  while glamorously leading a line-dance around a fireplace, including Peter Sellers and David Niven among other movie celebrities of that period. 

Ms. Jeffries sang and danced her way through a brief film career. Her third husband, the director Richard Quine, cast her in two of his films, “Sex and the Single Girl” and, in a non-singing role, “A Talent for Loving” in 1969. She played the femme fatale Aishah in the Elvis Presley movie “Harum Scarum” in 1965, after which came "A Talent for Loving" (1969), also directed by Quine. 

Additionally, she performed on such programs as "The Ed Sullivan Show", "The Jack Paar Show", "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", "Hollywood Palace" and "The Dean Martin Show".
Ms. Jeffries recorded the albums “Fran Can Really Hang You Up the Most” (1960), “Fran Jeffries Sings of Sex and the Single Girl” (1964) and “This Is Fran Jeffries” (1966). 


As Jeffries’ popularity grew, Monument issued a number of additional 45rpm records over the next few years such as: “Honey and Wine/Take Me (1966)”; “My Lonely Corner (1967)”; and 
“Gone Now (1968).” One source asserts that none of  those later 45rpms ever appeared on any of her albums.

She was featured in Playboy in the February 1971 issue at the age of 33 in a pictorial titled "Fran-tastic!" In September 1982 she posed a second time for Playboy, this time at the age of 45

In the late 1960s and early ’70s she toured Europe with Sammy Davis Jr. and Southeast Asia with Bob Hope. She sang on The Tom Jones Show in 1969 with the host, doing a duet of "You've Got What it Takes," as ell as The Smokey Robinson Show
the following year, in which she did solo numbers as well as a duet with Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder and the rest of the cast. 

She performed for decades in supper clubs and cabarets, and in 2000 recorded a set of ballads and standards, “All the Love.”

Jeffries suffered from multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in her last years. She died of the disease at her home on December 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 79. She is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

(Edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia & The NY Times)

Friday, 17 May 2019

Sonny Knight born 17 May 1934

Joseph Coleman Smith (17 May 1934 – 5 September 1998), who performed and recorded under the name Sonny Knight, was an American singer, songwriter and author. His biggest hit was "Confidential", which reached the pop and R&B charts in 1956, and he continued to record into the 1960s. In 1981, using his real name, he wrote The Day the Music Died, a fictionalised account of racism in the American music business in the 1950s.

He was born in Maywood, Illinois, and moved to Los Angeles with his family in the early 1950s. He enrolled at Los Angeles State College intending to pursue an academic career, but became interested in the music business and, according to one source, visited the Mesner brothers at Aladdin Records to sell them a song, "Vicious, Vicious Vodka", that he had written for his idol, Amos Milburn; Milburn recorded the song in 1954.

Another source suggests that Smith actively sought a recording contract himself, at the behest of a girlfriend. In any event, Aladdin offered him a recording contract, and, using the pseudonym Sonny Knight that he invented himself, released two singles on the label, including "But, Officer," later recorded by Steve Allen. The records were unsuccessful, and he recorded as Joe Smith for the Cal-West label before signing for Specialty Records.


After a couple more unsuccessful singles, recorded again as Sonny Knight, producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell partnered him with songwriter Dorinda Morgan. She wrote the ballad "Confidential", which he recorded for the small Vita record label in Pasadena. 

Although the record label states that it was recorded with the Jack Collier Orchestra, in fact it was made with the Ernie Freeman Combo, which also included guitarist Irving Ashby and saxophonist Plas Johnson. Originally the B-side of "Jail Bird", the record was flipped by radio DJs. After initial local success, the record was licensed to the larger Dot label, and rose to no. 17 on the Billboard pop chart, and no. 8 on the R&B chart at the end of 1956.

Knight was unable to follow it up, although he continued to record for Dot. He also worked as a session pianist in Los Angeles, on records by Sandy Nelson and others, and recorded for small labels including Original Sound, Fifo, and World Pacific. In the early 1960s he recorded for the Aura label, and in 1964 his song "If You Want This Love" reached no.71 on the pop chart; its follow-up "Love Me As Though There Were No Tomorrow" reached no.100. He gave up his recording career in the mid 1960s, moving in the 1970s to live in Hawaii, where he continued to sing in nightclubs.

In 1981, credited as Joseph C. Smith, his novel The Day the Music Died was published by Grove Press. It was based on his own experiences in the music business in the 1950s, and received generally good reviews, remaining in print for over 25 years.

Knight died in Hawaii in 1998 at the age of 64, following a stroke two years earlier.

A compilation CD of Sonny Knight's recordings, Confidential, was issued by Pacific Records in about 2001.  (Edited from Wikipedia)

Here’s a clip of Sonny Knight with “If You Want This Love of Mine,” taken from American Bandstand. February 27, 1965.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Marlowe Morris born 16 May 1915

Marlowe Morris (May 16, 1915 – May 28, 1978) was an American jazz pianist and organist. He was a distant relative of Fats Waller also the nephew of Thomas Morris, a cornet player and bandleader.

Marlowe Morris was an in-demand pianist who played on the recordings of some of the greatest jazz horn soloists, including Ben Webster and Lester Young, as well as with boogie-woogie and classic blues artists such as Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Rushing. He was also an innovative and much-copied stylist on the less than portable Hammond organ.

As a youngster, he fiddled around with a few instruments before finally settling on the keyboards, learning drums, harmonica, and ukulele. As a pianist, his first professional job was with singer June Clark for two years beginning in 1935. He then worked as a solo pianist for several years before joining the combo of tenor sax great Coleman Hawkins from 1940 through 1941, when he joined the Army.

Following a stint in the service, he worked with Toby Browne, Al Sears, drummer Sid Catlett, and the great guitarist Tiny Grimes, as well as leading his own trio, all in the first half of the '40s.

Perhaps the best exposure the pianist ever received was his role in the film Jammin' the Blues in 1944. One of the better jazz films from the swing era, it was filmed in Hollywood and features the pianist in very good company indeed, including players such as trumpeter Harry Edison, tenor men Lester Young and Illinois Jacquet, guitarist Barney Kessel bassist Red Callender, drummer Sid Catlett, and vocalist Mary Bryant (vocal).

Morris then began tickling the ivories only part-time, following a grand musical tradition and taking a day job in the post office to try and make ends meet. From 1949 he returned full-time to music, mainly as a solo organist.


In the mid-'60s he led the Marlowe Morris Trio featuring tenor saxophonist Julian Dash. The Morris album Play the Thing on Columbia nabbed the Grand Prix du Disque award from the Hot Club de France. He later devoted himself to teaching. And died in New York

He died in May 1978 (aged 63) New York City.

(Edited mainly from All Music)

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Trini Lopez born 15 May 1937

Trinidad "Trini" López III (born May 15, 1937) is a American singer and actor who had 16 Top 40 songs on the charts from 1963 through 1968.

Trini Lopez was born in Dallas, Texas, son of Trinidad Lopez II (who was a singer, dancer, actor, and musician in Mexico) and Petra Gonzalez, who moved to Dallas from Mexico. Lopez has four sisters (two are deceased) and a brother, Jesse, who is also a singer. He grew up on Ashland Street in the Little Mexico neighbourhood of Dallas and attended grammar school and N. R. Crozier Tech High School. He had to drop out of high school in his senior year because he needed to earn money to help support the family.

Lopez formed his first band in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of 15. In 1958, at the recommendation of Buddy Holly's father, Trini and his group "The Big Beats" went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico. Petty secured a contract for them with Columbia Records, which released the single "Clark's Expedition"/"Big Boy", both instrumental.

Lopez left the group and made his first solo recording, his own composition "The Right To Rock", for the Dallas-based Volk Records, and then signed with King Records in 1959, recording more than a dozen singles for that label, none of which charted. In late 1962, after the King contract expired, Lopez followed up on an offer by producer Snuff Garrett to join the post-Holly Crickets as vocalist. After a few weeks of auditions in Los Angeles, that idea did not go through. He landed a steady engagement at the nightclub PJ's, where his audience grew quickly. He was heard there by Frank Sinatra, who had started his own label, Reprise Records, and who subsequently signed Lopez.


His debut live album, Trini Lopez at PJ's , was released in 1963. The album included a version of "If I Had a Hammer", which reached number one in 36 countries (no. 3 in the United States), and was a radio favourite for many years. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. He also performed his own version of the traditional Mexican song "La Bamba" on the album; his recording of the tune was later reissued as a single in 1966. 

Another live album from PJ's was recorded later that same year under the title By Popular Demand More Trini Lopez at PJ's  which contains the song "Green Green" which was written by Randy Sparks and Barry McGuire and originally recorded by the New Christy Minstrels earlier that year for their Columbia album Ramblin.

 His other big hits were "Lemon Tree" and "I'm Comin' Home, Cindy", both of which made it to #2 on the Easy Listening chart, and "Michael", "Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now" and "The Bramble Bush", which made it to $7, #6 and #4, respectively. Beyond his success on record, he became one of the country's top nightclub performers of that era, regularly headlining in Las Vegas.

Trini with The Beatles

His popularity led the Gibson Guitar Corporation to ask him in 1964 to design a guitar for them. He ended up designing two: the Trini Lopez Standard  a rock and roll model based on the Gibson ES-335 semihollow body, and the Lopez Deluxe, a variation of a Gibson jazz guitar designed by Barney Kessel. Both of these 
guitars were in production from 1964 until 1971, and are now highly sought-after among collectors

Lopez's acting career was essentially still-born when he walked off the set of The Dirty Dozen (1967) at the urging of Sinatra (who supposedly thought his music career would stall if he continued to work on the movie, which had gone over its scheduled shooting date) or was fired by director Robert Aldrich for being disagreeable.  He appeared infrequently as an actor over the next 10 years, mostly on television. 

He continued his musical career with extensive tours of Europe and Latin America during this period. Since then, Lopez has done charitable work and received honors such as being inducted into the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in 2003. On May 15, 2008, his 71st birthday, Lopez was inducted into the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.

Lopez was still recording and appearing live in recent years and in 2008, his 63rd album, "Ramblin Man,” was released. "El Immortal" was released in 2010 and in 2011, Trini released his 65th album "Into The Future.”  (Edited from IMDB & Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Foy Willing born 14 May 1914

Foy Willing (May 14, 1914 – July 14, 1978) was a singer, songwriter, musician, and bandleader who performed Western music and appeared in Western movies. He formed the Western band Riders of the Purple Sage.

Foy Willingham was born May 14, 1914 in Bosque County, Texas. He began as a soloist and member of a gospel group on local radio and began performing around Waco, Texas. His first instrument was the harmonica. But he became proficient on the guitar and the steel guitar as well.

From 1933 to 1935 he worked in radio with the Crazy Water Crystals gang in new York City, but left in 1935 to work as a radio announcer back in Texas. In 1940, Willing moved to California and had established a version of the Riders there (the band had actually been founded in 1936 by Buck Page and a few others).

Willing's Riders included Patti Page on vocals, fiddler Johnny Paul, and accordionist Ken Coopern. World War II call ups caused the lineup to fluctuate during this period, but the group did have some success on the charts, including the country Top Tens "Texas Blues" (1944) and "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" and "Detour," both from 1946. Willing and his band also appeared on radio shows and even dabbled in film.


 In 1944, they made their feature film debut in Cowboy From Lonesome River, a Western featuring Charles Starrett. The following year, the band began appearing regularly on the All Star Western Theater. They continued appearing in films through the decade and in 1948 became Roy Rogers' new backup band after the Sons of the Pioneers left. The split with Rogers in 1951 wasn’t 

amicable. Willing had a drinking problem and Rogers apparently wanted to keep the name of the group but use different personnel; however, Willing fought him in court and won the legal battle for the rights to the groups name.

Foy Willing also appeared in thirty-two movies between 1941 and 1951. These included eleven with the Riders of the Purple Sage who disbanded in 1952. Willing bounced around show business when the singing cowboy era ended. He worked in radio sales and  travelled with Gene Autry during Autry's North American tour in 1957 and recorded for a variety of labels. By the late 1950s Foy was manager of KSBW radio station in Salvinas, California. He moved to Hollywood in 1961 and on 6 November 1966 he married Sharon Lee.

Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage occasionally reunited to record and perform. Willing went on to appear at Western film festivals during the 1970s until his death in Nashville on July 24th 1978 of a heart attack.

(Edited from Wikipedia & All Music & Handbook of Texas Music)

Monday, 13 May 2019

Teddy Randazzo born 13 May 1935

Alessandro Carmelo "Teddy" Randazzo (May 13, 1935 – November 21, 2003) was an American pop songwriter, singer, arranger and producer, who composed hit songs such as "Goin' Out of My Head", "It's Gonna Take a Miracle", "Pretty Blue Eyes", and "Hurt So Bad" in the 1960s.

Born in Brooklyn in 1937, he was lucky enough to grow up in a musical family, and by 15 was a good enough accordion player to turn professional, as a member of the group the Three Chuckles, who were in the market for a new keyboard man and singer -- the singing took a little time to develop, with help from his decade-older fellow group members Tommy Romano and Russ Gilberto, but when the group started recording, it was the sides that Randazzo sang on that initially hit, and by 1955, at 17, he was the front-man for the group. They had a number one hit with "And the Angels Sing," which had a rocking beat and brought them to the attention of deejay Alan Freed, who put the group into his first jukebox movie, Rock, Rock, Rock (shot in New York, in the Bronx,), but also gave Randazzo a solo spot.

When the smoke cleared from the movie, Randazzo had decided to go solo. He continued recording for Vik Records, a unit of RCA Victor, and enjoyed a minor success in 1958 with "Little Serenade," and made an appearance in Freed's next movie, Mister Rock And Roll, as well as in the 20th Century-Fox CinemaScope colour production The Girl Can't Help It, among other movies. By 1960, he'd moved to ABC-Paramount, where he had another minor hit with "The Way of a Clown," and in 1963 he had another small hit with "Big Wide World" on the Colpix label.


But it was mostly as a songwriter and producer that Randazzo busied himself and made his real success in the music business; he wrote some 650 songs over the ensuing decades, and saw them recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dionne Warwick. "Pretty Blue Eyes," authored with Bob Weinstein, was a number one hit 

for Steve Lawrence. But it was with Little Anthony & the Imperials that he had his longest success -- in addition to producing the group, he authored "Going Out of My Head," "I'm on the Outside Looking In," and "Hurt so Bad" (later covered by Linda Ronstadt), among other hits.

"I've lost count on how many versions there are", Randazzo once said of "Goin' Out Of My Head". It is now included in the Top 50 most recorded songs with sales of over 100 million by over 400 artists, according to the Songwriters' Hall Of Fame.

Bobby Darin with Randazzo
During the early and mid 1960s, Randazzo toured extensively with his own band appearing at the Copacabana, New York, Hotel Americana, San Juan and regularly at the Thunderbird Hotel, Las Vegas. Band members included renowned musicians Larry Taylor, Gerry McGee, Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Vince Megna, Billy Lewis, Kenny Rankin, Bobby Vincent, Bobby Weinstein, and Billy Barberis. Randazzo was especially popular in Hawaii where his early recordings had topped the local record charts.

Randazzo became less visible as the '60s wore on, and in the '70s was largely forgotten by all except oldies fans but later he provided several songs for albums by New York soul group, the Manhattans, during their 1970s' hey-day, including the 1977 hit, "It Feels So Good To Be Loved So Bad", "There's No Good In Goodbye", and "A Million To One". He also wrote and produced for the Stylistics. Albums include Fashionably Yours and Love Spell. At this time, Randazzo co-wrote songs with his then girlfriend Victoria Pike and songwriters Roger Joyce and Souren Mozian.

He remained active as a songwriter and behind-the-scenes, and did the occasional live performance to keep his hand in, but by then he was earning a good income from his annual royalties. He married R. Shelly Kunewa  of Hawaii and divided his time between their home in the islands and their home in Florida for most of the latter half of his life. 

He continued writing and producing. Randazzo produced and arranged Keola & Kapono Beamer's Honolulu City Lights album for Tom Moffatt's Paradise Records Label. The title song was a hit, the album become a local classic in Hawaii. In 2004, the editors of Honolulu Magazine asked a panel of local recording industry veterans to rank their choices for the best Hawaii album "of all time." Honolulu City Lights was chosen #1.

He busied himself in local production in both Florida and Hawaii, especially the latter, and reportedly enjoyed a very happy second marriage -- his son from his first marriage, Teddy Randazzo, Jr., has also had a successful music career. Randazzo died died at age 68 in his sleep at his home in Orlando, Florida in 2003.  (Edited from Wikipedia & All Music)