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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Kay Kyser born 18 June 1905

James Kern (“Kay”) Kyser (June 18, 1905, Rocky Mount, North Carolina–July 24, 1985) was a famous bandleader and one of the first to become a radio celebrity.

He was the son of pharmacists Paul and Emily Royster Howell Kyser, and a cousin of Vermont Royster. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, his campus popularity and enthusiasm as a

cheerleader caused him to be invited to join a commercial band being formed by other students. Although he started clarinet lessons, he was better as an entertaining announcer for the band than as a musician. He adopted the initial of his middle name as part of his stage name, for its alliterative effect

Kyser came up with an act that was part musical, quiz and singing. This was brought to Mutual Radio in 1938 then to NBC Radio in 1939. The show was called Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge and was a great hit. He starred as “The Ol’ Perfessor,” with his catchphrases “That’s right—you’re wrong,” “Evenin’ folks, how y’all?” and “Yess-dance! Yess-dance!” “Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge” ran on radio until 1949.  

 Kyser was also known for singing song titles, a device copied by Sammy Kaye and Blue Barron. When the song began, one of the lead singers (usually Harry Babbitt) sang the title phrase, and then the first verse or two of the song was performed instrumentally before the lyrics resumed.

On February 26, 1941, Kay Kyser was the first bandleader to perform in front of military personnel. He had 11 number one records in his lifetime. Several of his recordings spawned catchphrases, such as “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” His group also had a major hit with “Three Little Fishes,” a novelty song. 

“Kay left a strong recording legacy in American popular music, including his Kollege of Musical Knowledge,” said Harry Babbitt, who sang for Kay Kyser in the 1930s and 1940s. “I’m very fortunate and proud to have been an integral part of that band and that legacy. Kay was a businessman. We all liked him and liked what he stood for. He was first class. It’s sad to say, but there are an awful lot of people who don’t remember Kay Kyser.”

Unlike most other big bands of the era, which centered around only the bandleader, individual members of Kyser’s band became stars in their own right and would often receive the spotlight. Besides Harry Babbitt, some of the more popular members included trombone layer Bruce King, comedic cornet player Ish Kabibble, Ginny Simms—who had her own successful acting and singing career after leaving Kyser’s band—Sully Mason, Mike Douglas (years before he became a
popular TV talk show host), and Georgia Carroll. Carroll, a blonde fashion model and actress whose best-known role was as Betsy Ross in Yankee Doodle Dandy, was dubbed “Gorgeous Georgia Carroll” when she joined the group in 1943 and within a year, she and Kyser had married. Kyser and Georgia Carroll remained married until his death. They had three children.

Kay Kyser converted to the Church of Christ, Scientist sometime between 1944 and 1946, despite the fact his mother had been the 
first female pharmacist in his home county. Nevertheless, he had become interested in Christian Science when conventional medicine did not relieve his problems with arthritis. It was this arthritis which is often cited as one of the reasons Kyser retired from performing in 1950. In the early 1960s, several members of the Kay Kyser team (including Kabibble and Simms but not Kyser) reunited to record an album of new versions of Kyser’s greatest hits. In the 1970s Kay ran the film and television department of the Christian Science Church in Boston. He became an important lecturer for the faith and was also a Christian Science Practitioner. This service to the denomination lead to his being given the honorary title of “President of the Worldwide Church of CS” in 1983. He insisted though that it was honorary, joking “I haven’t been elected Pope or anything...”

Kay Kyser died of heart failure at his office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on July 23, 1985. He was 80. To the end, his selflessness, humor and charm were with him. (Info mainly Wikipedia)


1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Kay Kyser And His Orchestra – A Strict Education In Music, 50 Of The Best (2002, FLAC)

Size: 283 MB. Go here:

CD 1 :

CD 2 :