Monday, 7 October 2013
Vaughn Monroe born 7 October 1911
Vaughn Wilton Monroe (October 7, 1911 - May 21, 1973) was an American baritone singer, trumpeter and big band leader and actor, most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; for recording and radio.
Monroe was born in Akron, Ohio. He moved to Wisconsin while still a child and focused on his trumpet talent for most of his boyhood. Another early ambition, to be an opera singer, resulted in his signing on as a vocalist with territory bands led by Austin Wylie, Larry Funk (for whom he made his recording debut) and Jack Marshard. While based in Boston with Marshard, Monroe formed his first orchestra and began recording for Victor's low-priced Bluebird label. One of his first singles, "There I Go," spent three weeks at the top of the Hit Parade in 1940. Though his orchestra was rather tame (even for the time), it was voted top college band that year. His longtime theme song "Racing with the Moon" debuted in 1941, and the following year-and-a-half brought no less than three number one hits: "My Devotion," "When the Lights Go on Again (All Over the World)," and "Let's Get Lost." He recorded extensively for RCA Victor until the 1950s and his signature tune was "Racing with the Moon" (1941).
Monroe's first few years of recording had been quite successful, but all his biggest hits were yet to come. Among his other hits were "There I've Said It Again" (1945), "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" (1946), "Ballerina" (1947), "Ghost Riders in the Sky" (1949), "Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)" (1949), and "Sound Off" (1951). One lost opportunity - he turned down the chance to record "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".
He was tall and handsome which helped him as a band leader and singer, as well as in Hollywood, although he did not pursue a movie and television career with vigor. He was sometimes called "the Baritone with Muscles", "the Voice with Hair on its Chest", "Ol' Leather Tonsils", or "Leather Lungs". He was admired by some and derided by others for both his singing and his persona. He had a pleasant baritone voice that wasn't always quite good enough for the songs he sang, according to his critics. (One said "If he'd just open his mouth further so the sound would come out of IT, instead of his nose....".) Spike Jones' satirical rendition of "Ghost Riders" openly made fun of Monroe, even mentioning him by name in the song. The judgment of these critics is open to question, as Monroe's recordings reveal that he was one of the rare popular singers with a voice approaching operatic caliber.
Ghost Riders in the Sky, an old Western chestnut, presaged Monroe's attempt at moving into Hollywood's singing-cowboy genre with a couple of early-'50s B-movies including "Singing Guns" and "The Toughest Man in Arizona." He also disbanded his orchestra, and continued to work television and radio (he hosted Camel Caravan for many years). Except for a few mid-'50s novelties (including "They Were Doin' the Mambo" and "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots"). Monroe never again hit the charts.
He hosted The Vaughn Monroe Show on CBS Television from 1950–51 and from 1954–55, and also appeared on Bonanza and
The Mike Douglas Show, as well as The Ed Sullivan Show, Texaco Star Theatre, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and American Bandstand. He was a major stockholder in RCA and appeared in print ads and television commercials for the company's TV and audio products.
On his last album for RCA Victor, "There I Sing / Swing It Again," a stereo recording made in April 1958, Monroe prevailed to include several out-and-out swingers into the sessions, never more appealingly. He continued to work for RCA as a spokesman and alent scout. He signed Neil Sedaka. Monroe continued to perform into the early '70s.
Among Monroe's final high-profile appearances were three in New York City: the Rainbow Grill (1966-7), the St. Regis Hotel (1970), and as part of a big band festival at Madison Square Garden (1971).
Monroe died on May 21, 1973 at Martin County Memorial Hospital, shortly after having stomach surgery . He was buried in Fernhill Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Stuart, Florida.
His popularity was renewed in 2000 when a number of compact disc labels began reissuing his recordings and broadcasts, including lesser-known performances such as Requestfully Yours. (info Big Band Library, AMG & Wikipedia)