Bob Crosby (August 25, 1913** Spokane, Washington - March 9, 1993 La Jolla, California) was an American Dixieland bandleader and vocalist, best known for his group Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats.(** some sources give 23rd August)
He was the youngest of seven children: five boys, Larry (1895-1975), Everett (born 1896), Ted (born 1900), Harry (1903-1977, popularly known as Bing Crosby) and Bob; and two girls, Catherine (born 1905) and Mary Rose (born 1907). His parents were English-American bookkeeper Harry Lowe Crosby (1871-1950) and Irish-American Catherine Harrigan (1873-1964), the daughter of a builder from County Mayo in Ireland.
Bob Crosby began singing in the early 1930s with the Delta Rhythm Boys, which included vocalist Ray Hendricks and guitarist Bill Pollard, and with Anson Weeks (1931–34) and the Dorsey Brothers (1934–35). He led his first band in 1935 when the former members of Ben Pollack's band elected him their titular leader.
Crosby's "band-within-the-band," the Bob-Cats, was an authentic New Orleans Dixieland-style jazz octet featuring soloists drawn from the larger orchestra, many of whom were from New Orleans or were heavily influenced by the music of the Crescent City. In the mid 1930s, with the rise of "swing" music and the popularity of the swing bands ever increasing, the Crosby band managed to authentically combine the fundamental elements of the older jazz style with the then-rising-in-popularity swing style, presaging the traditional jazz revival of the 1940s. Crosby's singing voice was remarkably similar to that of his brother Bing, but without its range.
The orchestra was one of the few bands of its time established as a cooperative corporation of its members, and it was managed/presided over by saxophonist Gil Rodin. The band was initially formed out of the ruins of the Ben Pollack Orchestra, whose members quit en masse. Needing a vocalist, they chose Crosby simply for his personality, looks, and famous surname. He was made the front man of the band, and his name became the band's public identity. In the spring of 1940, during a performance in Chicago, teenager Doris Day was hired as the band's female vocalist.
The Bob Crosby Orchestra in 1940 — Front row, l. to r.: Max Herman, Eddie Miller, Doris Day, Bob Crosby, Warren Smith; Second row: Jess Stacy, Doc Rando, Irving Fazola, Billy Butterfield, Gil Rodin; Back Row: George Koenig, Ray Bauduc, Nappy Lamare, Ray Conniff, Bob Haggart, Bob Peck (source: jazzconnectionmag.com)
The Bob Crosby Orchestra and the Bob Cats included (at various times) Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Muggsy Spanier, Matty Matlock, Irving Fazola, Ward Silloway, Warren Smith, Eddie Miller, Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke, Jess Stacy, Nappy Lamare, Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc.
Hits included "Summertime" (theme song), "In a Little Gypsy Tea Room," "Whispers in The Dark," "South Rampart Street Parade," "March of the Bob Cats," "Day In, Day Out," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "Dolores" and "New San Antonio Rose" (last three with Bing Crosby). A remarkable bass and drums
duet between Haggart and Bauduc, "Big Noise From Winnetka," became a hit in 1938-39.
During World War II, Bob spent 18 months in the Marines, touring with bands in the Pacific. His radio variety series, The Bob Crosby Show, aired on NBC and CBS in different runs between the years 1943 to 1950, followed by Club Fifteen on CBS from 1947 through 1953 and a half-hour CBS daytime series, The Bob Crosby Show (1953-1957).
Crosby and The Bobcats were successful on radio and television. He was the orchestra leader for "The Jack Benny Show" on radio, taking over from Phil Harris, and then on television. He had his
own daytime TV show, "The Bob Crosby Show", on CBS from 1953 to 1957. Crosby wanted an evening slot and, in 1958, NBC put the show on in the evenings as a summer replacement for Perry Como, but it did poorly in the ratings and was canceled. He made his last film in 1959, costarring in the Red Nichols musical-biography, The Five Pennies (1959), in support of Danny Kaye.
After his TV show was canceled and his movie career came to an end, Bob Crosby focused on a solo career, although he occasionally reformed the Bobcats for concerts and recordings. In the early 1970s, he toured with a package orchestra and later played with local pick-up bands into the 1980s.
The enduring popularity of the Bob Crosby Orchestra and the Bob Cats - whose biography was written by British jazz historian John Chilton, was evident during the frequent reunions in the 1950s and 1960s. Bob Haggart and Yank Lawson organized a band that kept the spirit alive, combining Dixieland and swing with a roster of top soloists. From the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, the group was known as The World's Greatest Jazzband. Since neither leader was happy with that name, they eventually reverted to The Lawson Haggart Jazzband.
Bob Crosby died in La Jolla, California on March 9, 1993 from cancer. Though Bob pretended to find being the brother of superstar Bing Crosby amusing, in 1958 it admitted it was a sore point. "It got so bad that whenever someone asked me what my occupation was, I used to answer automatically Bing Crosby's brother". He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for television and recording.(Info edited mainly from Wikipedia)