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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

John Denver born 31 December 1943


John Denver (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., was an American folk singer-songwriter and folk rock musician who was one of the most popular artists of the 1970s. He recorded and released some 300 songs, about half of which he had composed, and was named Poet Laureate of Colorado in 1977.
 
One of the most popular recording artists of the 1970s, country-folk singer/songwriter John Denver's gentle, environmentally conscious music established him among the most beloved entertainers of his era; wholesome and clean-cut, his appeal extended to fans of all ages and backgrounds, and led to parallel careers as both an actor and a humanitarian.

Born Henry John Deutschendorf in Roswell, NM, he was raised in an Air Force family, and grew up in various regions of the southwestern U.S. As a teen, his grandmother presented him with a 1910 Gibson acoustic guitar, and while attending Texas Tech University he began performing local clubs.
Adopting the stage surname "Denver" in tribute to the Rocky Mountain area he so cherished, he dropped out of college in 1964 to relocate to Los Angeles; there he joined the Chad Mitchell Trio, a major draw on the hootenanny circuit of the early '60s but in the twilight of their career at the time of Denver's arrival. Over time, however, Denver helped resuscitate the group on the strength of his songwriting skills; signed to Mercury, the Trio recorded a number of tracks, which the label repackaged in 1974 as Beginnings With the Chad Mitchell Trio.

Upon the departure of the last remaining founding member, the Chad Mitchell Trio became known as Denver, Boise and Johnson; the new group proved short-lived, however, when Denver exited in 1969 to pursue a solo career. That same year he recorded his debut LP, Rhymes and Reasons; while not a hit, it contained one of his best-loved compositions, "Leaving on a Jet Plane," an international chart-topper for Peter, Paul & Mary.


 


Still, neither of Denver's follow-up albums, 1970's Whose Garden Was This and Take Me to Tomorrow, launched him as a solo performer; finally, with 1971's Poems, Prayers & Promises, he achieved superstardom, thanks to the million-selling hits "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Sunshine on My Shoulders."
In the years to follow, Denver also scored with "Annie's Song" (penned for his wife) and "Back Home Again," and by 1974 was firmly established as America's best-selling performer; albums like 1975's An Evening With John Denver and Windsong were phenomenally popular, and he continued to top the singles charts with efforts including "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "I'm Sorry." Additionally, his 1974 best-of collection sold over ten million copies worldwide, and remained on the charts for over two years.

At the peak of his success, Denver was everywhere -- the governor of Colorado proclaimed him the state's poet laureate, his label Windsong was responsible for hits like the Starland Vocal Band's mammoth "Afternoon Delight," and he appeared in a number of ratings-grabbing television specials. In 1977, he even moved into film, co-starring with George Burns in the comedy hit Oh, God! During this time, however, he dramatically curtailed his recording output, and after 1977's I Want to Live, issued no new material until 1980's Autograph.


 
The following year, he performed with opera star Placido Domingo, but as the decade progressed, Denver's popularity waned as he turned his focus more toward humanitarian work, focusing primarily on ecological concerns and space exploration; he also toured Communist-led Russia and China, and in 1987 performed in Chernobyl in the wake of that city's nuclear disaster. While maintaining a solid cult following, by the 1990s Denver had largely fallen off the radar, and he made more news for a 1993 drunk-driving arrest than he did for records like 1991's Different Directions. In 1994, he published an autobiography, Take Me Home.

On October 12, 1997, Denver was killed when the Long-EZ aircraft he was piloting crashed just off the coast of California at Pacific Grove, shortly after taking off from the Monterey Peninsula Airport. The Long-EZ is a two-seat experimental aircraft and Denver was the sole occupant of the aircraft. He was a pilot with over 2,700 hours of experience. Denver was cremated with his beloved 1910 Gibson guitar, given to him by his grandmother. He credited this guitar with most of the inspiration he had during his career. His ashes were spread throughout his beloved Rocky Mountains.
(info mainly edited from All Music Guide)

Monday, 30 December 2013

Viola Wills born 30 December 1939


Viola Wills (December 30, 1939—May 6, 2009) was an American pop singer, best known for the 1979 UK Singles Chart #8 and U.S. Hot Dance Club Play #52 hit, "Gonna Get Along Without You Now". This wa also the track that cast her as a stereotype. Thenceforth she became the "disco diva", with an enthusiastic gay following, but the term belied her musical range, which encompassed soul, jazz and gospel.

Although uncertainty surrounds the date of her birth. She was born Viola Mae Wilkerson in the Watts district of Los Angeles, but despite the unpromising surroundings she showed potential as a budding classical musician. Victory in a singing competition, sponsored by the Federation of Baptist Churches, when she was eight led to her securing a scholarship to the LA Conservatory of Music, where she majored in piano.


But she found it difficult to devote herself to her classical studies. She married in her teens and found herself struggling to bring up six children when she was barely into her 20s. She was in dire financial circumstances, and decided to resurrect her singing skills and try to make a living in soul and R&B music.

Opportunity knocked when she was given a chance to work as a session vocalist with Barry White. Not yet the gravel-voiced soul superstar he would become, White was working as a producer for Bob Keane's Bronco/Mustang labels. In 1965 White signed Wills to Bronco as a solo artist and she recorded a number of tracks, including Lost Without the Love of My Guy, I Got Love and You're Out of My Mind. While the first of these enjoyed some local success around LA, Wills did not achieve any significant chart success.

Meanwhile, White moved on to greater things with the Love Unlimited Orchestra, leaving Wills to flog herself around LA in pursuit of the elusive break. She recorded You've Got My Blessings and The First Time for the A Bem Soul label, which again misfired commercially. Her luck began to change when she met James Gadson of Watts 103rd Street Band, who believed she had songwriting talent and offered her some tips. She went on to write You Got the Will and Sweetback with Gadson, which earned her an appearance on the television show Soul Train.

In 1974, at the urging of Gloria Jones (of Tainted Love fame), Wills was hired as a backing singer by Joe Cocker for a European tour, joining a quartet of singers known as the Sanctified Sisters. She made enough of an impression to be given her own solo spot in the show, singing the Chips Moman/Dan Penn classic Do Right Woman. While in the UK, she signed a deal with the Goodear label and recorded the solo album Soft Centres. Released in 1974, it was another chart flop.

Wills remained in Europe and put together a band which included her teenaged children, dubbing it Viola Wills and the Iveys. After a debut at Ronnie Scott's in London, they toured Europe and south America and opened shows for Smokey Robinson and George Benson. She also toured on her own with the jazz-fusionists the Crusaders.



At the urging of the producer Jerry McCabe, she agreed to cut a disco version of Gonna Get Along Without You Now, which had been a UK top 10 hit in 1957 for the sibling duo Patience & Prudence. The track sped to the top of charts all around the world, its punchy, aerobic arrangement placing Wills in the vanguard of the emergent Hi-NRG craze. She rapidly recorded the album If You Could Read My Mind, and boosted by a worldwide licensing deal with Ariola/Arista records, she had follow-up hits with the title track and Up On the Roof.

She then went back to the US, where her dance version of the jazz standard Stormy Weather became a clubland hit. She returned to the singles charts with Dare to Dream in 1986, but having undertaken a gruelling bout of international touring, she found herself (according to her official website) "bankrupted, cold and husband-less". She took time out to gain a degree in music therapy, and settled in England.

She lived in Brighton for a time, where she performed regularly with her so-called "Jazzspel" band ("a little bit of jazz and a little bit of gospel"). In 2006 she returned to the US, where she made her final recording, What Now My Love? 

Wills died of cancer on May 6, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. Her funeral was held at the Macedonia Abbey Baptist Church in Los Angeles on May 15, 2009. (Info mainly Adam Sweeting, The Guardian)


Sunday, 29 December 2013

George Elrick born 29 December 1903


George Elrick (December 29, 1903 - December 15, 1999), was a British musician, impresario and radio presenter, probably best known for presenting the popular record request show Housewives' Choice during the 1950s and 1960s.

In a long and varied showbusiness career, George Elrick was an early disc jockey, and from 1946-67 a presenter of Housewives' Choice, BBC radio's legendary morning record request programme. In many ways, he set the pattern for today's generation of chatty, middle-of-the-road DJs; he would introduce himself with the words "This is Mrs Elrick's wee son, Georgie," and pioneered a technique of humming to the programme's signature tune (In Party Mood). He would invent lyrics for this otherwise instrumental piece, and sign off with his customary "I'll be with you all again tomorrow morning."


In his earlier career as vocalist, Elrick was associated with such popular songs as A Nice Cup of Tea In The Morning and, particularly, When You're Smiling, which earned him the soubriquet "the smiling voice of radio", and in 1948 became the title of a touring variety show based on his fame as a BBC presenter.

One of 11 children, Elrick was born in Aberdeen. His early ambitions to become a doctor were not fulfilled and his first job was at a chemical factory. He played drums in a jazz trio in the evenings, turning professional after receiving encouragement at a Melody Maker contest. He and his band won an award in the All-Scottish Dance Band Championship and became resident at the Beach ballroom, Aberdeen.

In January 1931, Elrick arrived in London to work in club venues, prior to becoming one of the Three Rhythm Brothers with the Bert Ambrose band. It was at this time that he met his future wife, Alice, then a successful model. Elrick joined Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra in 1935 as drummer and vocalist and appeared on some of Hall's commercial recordings.




During one broadcast he was twice required to sing The Music Goes Round And Round in response to a telephone request from the Prince of Wales, who had several times asked to sit in on Elrick's drum-kit during cabaret engagements. He appeared alongside the American bandleaders Louis Armstrong, Joe Venuti, Benny Carter and many others. He also recorded with the black woman trumpeter Valaida Snow, on tour from America in the Black Birds shows in the mid-1930s.

At the end of Hall's BBC contract, Elrick established his own band, under the managership of Jack Hylton. From 1937-39, they toured the variety theatres in the show Youth Must Have Its Fling. He spent the second world war touring with the forces entertainment group ENSA and, apart from his tenure on Housewives' Choice, his subsequent show-business roles included pantomime and - more famously - as manager and record producer for various artists. His most notable association was with the orchestra leader Mantovani, for whom he arranged three world and 15 American tours.

Elrick was also a prolific composer of songs - among them Everybody Wants To Be Loved, I Wouldn't Be Blue and Montego Bay - sometimes under pseudonyms. He earned a number of gold and platinum discs, was president of the Entertainment Agents' Association and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

A member of the Grand Order of Water Rats (King Rat for 1954 and 1973), he was also an honorary life member of the Variety Club of Great Britain, for whom he co-produced and narrated the music-hall compilation LP Hail Variety.


King Rats, former heads of the Grand Order of Water Rats. Back row, from left: George Doonan, Tommy Trinder, Johnny Riscoe, Bud Flanagan, Albert Whelan, Ted Ray, Wee Georgie Wood, Clarkson Rose  and George Elrick. Front: Charlie Chester, Ben Warriss and Cyril Dowler.


He died aged 96 in London, 15 December 1999. Elrick's wife died in 1992 and his son in 1954. He is survived by two sisters. (Info mainly The Guardian. 1999)


Go here for a great British Pathe film clip

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/george-elrick



Saturday, 28 December 2013

Donna Hightower born 28 December 1926


Donna Lubertha Hightower (December 28, 1926 – August 19, 2013) was an unjustly underrated yet great R&B, soul and jazz singer and songwriter. "Little" Donna Hightower had a dynamic, big voice and made some fine records for Decca, RPM and Capitol labels in the 1950's. Later in her career she was based in Europe, where she had a hit in 1972 with "This World Today is a Mess."

Donna Hightower was born in Caruthersville, Missouri on December 28, 1926, and is the oldest of nine children. Her family was typical of many poor Southern African-American sharecropping families and she remembers spending many days working as a field hand for $1 a day, picking cotton. Her father didn’t believe in education so she had very little formal schooling until much later in her life. She remembers getting in trouble for listening to radio programs and daydreaming of life better than what she saw around her. Being very determined to get out of that lifestyle, she married early and had two children. Since her first husband was in the military, they moved often and called many cities “home” for short periods of time, including St. Louis, Missouri and Gary, Indiana. After their divorce in the late 1940’s, she moved to Chicago, Illinois and lived with her cousin.

She was first discovered in 1951 while working as a cook in Chicago. Bob Tilman, a reporter for the “Chicago Defender” was in the diner having lunch, when he commented to a waitress that he really liked the vocalist singing "Star Dust." He asked if she would turn up the radio so that he could hear the orchestra's arrangement. The waitress looked confused, so he repeated his request again. Finally, she told the reporter that they didn't have a radio and said, "oh, that's just Donna...she drives us crazy with her singing all the time!" Tillman took Hightower around and introduced her to club owners and she soon got regular bookings fronting bands at the Strand Hotel Lounge, the Crown Propellor and other South Side hotspots.

She came to the attention of Decca Records, which signed her and suggested a name change. "They said it was too long and I said: 'Well, it's got the same number of letters as "Ella Fitzgerald" ', and they let it go." Hightower made a series of singles for Decca of which her first single was "I Ain't In The Mood", in 1951.




During the mid 1950s she recorded R&B songs, for RPM Records, often accompanied by the Maxwell Davis Orchestra as on her 1955 version of "Hands Off". She toured widely in the US, with Louis Jordan, B. B. King, Johnny Mathis, Della Reese and others. However, none of her records made the pop or R&B charts. By 1958, her career had slowed and she began working for a music publishing firm in New York City, recording demonstration records of new songs. Her version of "Light of Love" — later recorded by Peggy Lee — was heard by record producer Dave Cavanaugh, and as a result of his interest she was signed to Capitol Records. She recorded several albums for Capitol, including Take One! and Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You?, both released in 1959. While noted for her "range and power, she was equally compelling doing sentimental, soft ballads."

In 1959, she performed in England, France, Sweden and elsewhere in Europe with Quincy Jones and The Platters. She settled in France and then, in the late 1960s, in Madrid. In 1971 she won the Costa del Sol International Song Festival, following which she began recording in Spain for Columbia Records, although her songs were issued in much of Europe by Decca Records. She worked with singer Danny Daniel as a duo, Danny y Donna, and they had a hit in the country with "El Vals de las Mariposas". She also recorded solo, and her most successful record, "This World Today Is A Mess" ("Este Mundo es En Conflicto"), which she co-wrote, was an international hit — though not in the US, where it was not released, or in the UK — in 1972, reportedly selling over one million copies worldwide. She is also known for the song "If You Hold My Hand", which was later sampled for the UK 2007 hit single "Handsfree" by Sonny J.


She returned to the US to live in semi-retirement in Austin, Texas, in 1990. She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, and appeared on local radio programs. Her last performance in Spain was at a jazz festival in 2006. She died in Austin in 2013 at the age of 86. (Info edited from www.rock-ola.be
& Wikipedia)

Friday, 27 December 2013

Scotty Moore born 27 December 1931



Winfield Scott "Scotty" Moore III (born December 27, 1931) is an American guitarist and recording engineer. He is best known for his backing of Elvis Presley in the first part of his career, between 1954 and the beginning of Elvis' Hollywood years. He was ranked 44th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time in 2011. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame (category: sideman) in 2000.

Scotty Moore was born near Gadsden, Tennessee. He learned to play the guitar from family and friends at eight years of age. Although underage when he enlisted, Moore served in the United States Navy between 1948 and 1952.


Moore's early background was in jazz and country music. A fan of guitarist Chet Atkins, Moore led a group called the "Starlite Wranglers" before Sam Phillips at Sun Records put him together with then teenage Elvis Presley. Phillips believed that Moore's lead guitar and Bill Black's double bass were all that was needed to augment Presley's rhythm guitar and lead vocals on their recordings. In 1954 Moore and Black accompanied Elvis on what would become the first legendary Presley hit, the Sun Studios session cut of "That's All Right (Mama)", a recording regarded as a seminal event in rock and roll history. Elvis, Black and Moore then formed the Blue Moon Boys.

For a time, Moore served as Elvis's personal manager. They were later joined by drummer D.J. Fontana. Beginning in July 1954, the Blue Moon Boys toured and recorded throughout the American South and, as Presley's popularity rose, they toured the United States and made appearances in various Presley television shows and motion pictures. The Blue Moon Boys, including Moore, appear in the few 1955 home movie clips that survive of Elvis before he achieved national recognition. Moore, Black, and Fontana also appear on the Dorsey Brothers, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, and Ed Sullivan live TV shows of January 1956 to January 1957. Moore and Fontana also reunited on the 1960 Timex TV special with Frank Sinatra welcoming Elvis' return from the Army.

Moore played on many of Presley's most famous recordings, including "Good Rockin' Tonight", "Baby Let's Play House", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Mystery Train", "Hound Dog", "Too Much" and "Jailhouse Rock". Moore and the Blue Moon Boys also perform (and have additional small walk-in and speaking roles) with Elvis in three of his movies (Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole) filmed in 1957 and 1958.




In 1964, Moore released a solo album on Epic Records called The Guitar That Changed the World, played using his Gibson Super 400. For this effort he was fired by Sam Phillips. Moore reunited with Fontana and Presley for the NBC television special known as the '68 Comeback Special, again with his Gibson Super 400 which was also played by Presley.

Moore's playing on his Gibson with his unique finger-picking style with pick at same time, as on the Sun and early RCA recordings, was unique and exciting, representing a move of the Chet Atkins style into a more rockabilly mode. Moore's best performances are often considered precedent-setting.

Moore is given credit as the pioneer of the rock 'n' roll lead guitarist. Many popular guitarists cite Moore as the performer that brought the lead guitarist to a dominant role in a rock 'n' roll band. Although some lead guitarists/vocalists, such as Chuck Berry and blues legend BB King, had gained popularity by the 1950s, Presley rarely played his own lead while performing, instead providing rhythm guitar and leaving the lead duties to Moore.

 As a guitarist, Moore was a noticeable presence in Presley's performances, despite his introverted demeanor. He became an inspiration to many subsequent popular guitarists, including Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. While Moore was working on his memoir with co-author James L. Dickerson, Richards told Dickerson, "Everyone else wanted to be Elvis--I wanted to be Scotty." Richards has stated many times (Rolling Stone magazine, Life autobiography) that he could never figure out how to play the "stop time" break and figure that Moore plays on "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" (Sun), and that he hopes it will remain a mystery.

While with Presley, Moore initially played a Gibson ES-295 (nicknamed "The Guitar that Changed the World"), before switching to a Gibson L5 and subsequently a Gibson Super 400. One of the key pieces of equipment in Moore's sound on many of the recordings with Elvis, besides his guitars, was the use of the Ray Butts EchoSonic, a guitar amplifier with a tape echo built in, which allowed him to take his trademark slapback echo on the road.

During his later years Moore continued to work as an engineer, occasionally crossing paths in this capacity with unexpected clients such as Ringo Starr, Tracy Nelson, Mother Earth, and the Holy Modal Rounders. He got back into playing guitar again, after a layoff of about 25 years, on recordings and live shows with Carl Perkins in the early '90s.

 In 1997, he did a tribute album to Elvis Presley with D.J. Fontana, All the King's Men, which included appearances by Keith Richards, Levon Helm, Jeff Beck, and Ronnie Wood. The presence of such heavyweights was a testament to the influence of Moore on other guitarists, not just rockabilly ones, but also rockers of a later generation, such as Richards. I April 2003, Scotty recorded an album with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After. In August, 2005, Moore toured Norway and the U.K. and performed what is believed to be for the last time on August 15 at the London Jazz Cafe.


For his pioneering contribution, Moore has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2000, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2002, Scotty Moore won the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at Number 44 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. (Info edited from various sources, mainly Wikipedia)


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Ronnie Prophet born 26 December 1937


Ronald Lawrence Victor Prophet (born 26 December 1937 in Hawkesbury, Ontario) is a Canadian-born country musician and comedy performer.

The versatile Ronnie Prophet was not only a country music singer, but also a gifted impressionist, an entertaining storyteller and an emcee. He was born in Calmut, Quebec, the youngest of three children.
As a musician, he began playing square dances throughout the province. He made his debut in Ottawa on CFRA's country music show 'The Happy Wanderers', followed by appearances at several Montreal nightclubs until 1964. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1966, wintering in the Bahamas and performing at the Jack Tar Hotel. Soon he began playing at Boots Randolph's Carousel Club, which later became Ronnie Prophet's Carousel Club.




Here's Malaguena taken from above 1965 LP

In the early 1970s, he made his television debut on the long-running CBC television series The Tommy Hunter Show. Eventually he had his own show, which ran until 1981. He next hosted Grand Old Country on the CTV network and the British series Ronnie Prophet Entertains. In 1975, Prophet made his recording debut; his first hit single, "Sanctuary," made the Top 30 and was followed by three other mid-range hits. He continued to appear on television.

Prophet received Juno Awards in 1978 and 1979 for Country Male Vocalist of the Year, Big Country Awards in 1976 and 1980 for Outstanding Male Performance and the CCMA Award for Entertainer of the Year in 1984. He has recorded more than 25 albums and charted 5 singles during the 1970's on the Billboard Country charts.

Ronnie is known for his one-man shows, which combine song, comedy, impersonations and his considerable skill as a guitarist. During the 1990's Ronnie and his wife Glory-Anne (Carierre) hosted their own club show in Branson, Missouri until 2005.

These days, Ronnie and Glory-Anne immerse their grandkids in music, play one-nighters at their leisure and work on various projects. Ronnie was reputedly working on a gospel album with Gary Paxton (who wrote "The Monster Mash") and is excited about finally writing a book.

(Info Wikipedia & all Music & CCMA hall of Fame)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Nat Shilkret born 25 December 1899



Nathaniel Shilkret (December 25, 1889 – February 18, 1982) was an American composer, conductor, clarinetist, pianist, business executive, and music director born in New York City, New York to an Austrian immigrant family.

Nathaniel Shilkret was born Naftule Schüldkraut, December 25, 1899, in Queens, New York. His parents, Wulf ("William") Schüldkraut and Krusel ("Rose") Zeiger, were immigrants from Austria. In addition to Nathaniel, they had four other children: Jack (who would later record as a bandleader and pianist), Harry (who would record on cornet), Lew (who would record on piano) and a sister named Ray.

By 1895, at age five, Nat Shilkret was already studying violin and clarinet. Two years later, he was also playing the piano.In 1896, Shilkret became a member of the New York Boys' Symphony Orchestra. Six years later, in 1902, the orchestra advertised Shilkret as a 9-year old, "clarinet phenomenon," though he was, in fact, three years older, at the time. Thereafter, Shilkret may have continued to misrepresent his age, since even his own later memoirs show apparent discrepancies of about three years.

By 1905, he was a member of the Russian Symphony Orchestra and Arnold Volpe's Orchestra. Two years later (1907), he was playing in the New York Philharmonic. During the next decade, he is reported to have also played with the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra, Victor Herbert and Arthur Pryor, among others.

In June 1914, he married Anna Finston, sister of a fellow musician. The following year, in March 1915, Shilkret's only son was born. His name was Arthur. It was during this same year that Nat Shilkret began working for Victor Records, as arranger and conductor. In 1921, he and Eddie King, another Victor executive, co-directed the "Shilking Orchestra." This was Shilkret's first credited recording. In 1923, he conducted John Philip Sousa's band, during the first of several of the band's sessions under his direction. During this same period, he was also appointed Director of Light Music, for Victor.

In 1924, he joined RCA Victor as director of the company's light music division, and subsequently founded the Victor Salon Orchestra, also sometimes called the Victor Orchestra, and he also led bands with names such as the Novelty Orchestra and Shilkret's Rhythm-Melodists. He became one of the top pop bandleaders of the late '20s and early '30s, his credits including hot dance numbers such as "Honey Bunch," "Sweet Thing," and "Zulu Wail," and pop numbers such as "Ain't She Sweet" and "Me and My Shadow"; he also composed songs as a lyricist.

 


In his own time, however, he was best known as a bandleader and he rivaled the popularity of Paul Whiteman going into the 1930s -- indeed, their rivalry extended to the disputed credit of the first recording of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," which bore Whiteman's name but, according to The Big Bands Database Plus, was actually the work of Shilkret, when Whiteman and Gershwin got into a dispute. Though Shilkret received no credit on the disc, Gershwin must have approved of the recording. Two years later, in January 1929, Shilkret was asked to direct the radio premiere of Gershwin's "An American In Paris." Eight years after that, he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, during a memorial broadcast of the same work.


During the 1930s, Shilkret's radio work continued. He was the orchestra director for several shows, including "Music That Satisfies" sponsored by Chesterfield (CBS 1931-1932), "Songs You Love" sponsored by Smith Brothers (CBS/NBC 1933-1935) and the "Palmolive Beauty Box Theater" (NBC 1934-1935).

In 1934, Nat Shilkret received an Honorary Doctorate in Music, from Bethany College, in Kansas. A year later, Shilkret moved to Hollywood. There, he conducted orchestral accompaniment for popular vocalists, especially those who starred in film. He also began composing, arranging and directing music for film. As early as 1928, Shilkret had composed the feature song for "Lilac Time" (Warner Brothers), and he had provided music for other films, as well. By 1936, however, his work in film accelerated. His credits included "Mary Of Scotland" (RKO 1936); "Swing Time" (RKO 1936); "Winterset," for which he received an Academy Award nomination (RKO 1936); "Everybody's Doin' It" (RKO 1937) and "Toast Of New York" (RKO 1937).

Besides providing music for several Laurel and Hardy features, including "The Bohemian Girl" (MGM 1936), "Way Out West" (MGM 1937) and "Swiss Miss" (MGM 1938), Nat Shilkret was also the music director for a number of Walter Lantz cartoons (or "Cartunes," as they were called). These included "Lovesick" (1937), "Keeper Of The Lions" (1937), "The Mysterious Jug" (1937), "The Lamplighter" (1938), "Yokel Boy Makes Good" (1938) and "Trade Mice" (1938).

In the 1940s, Shilkret established the Nathaniel Shilkret Music Company (1940), and continued to provide music for films, including "Shall We Dance?" (RKO 1942), "Ode To Victory" (MGM 1943), "Calling All Kids" (MGM 1943), "Hoodlum Saint" (MGM 1945), "Boys' Ranch" (MGM 1946) and "Faithful In My Fashion" (MGM 1946). During this same period, he began devoting himself more to the composition of classical works. In 1942, he composed his "Concerto For Trombone" for Tommy Dorsey. After its premiere performance, the concerto was lost and remained that way, for almost 60 years. It was not performed, again, until 2003.

A similar fate befell the "Genesis Suite," which Shilkret co-wrote with Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and others. The suite was performed, in 1945, at the Wilshire Ebel Theatre, in Los Angeles. Except for partial copies kept by Stravinsky and Schoenberg, the entire score was lost in a fire, at Shilkret's house.

During the early 1950s, Shilkret continued to conduct, for a number of LPs and short films. However, after his wife's death, in 1958, he considered himself retired. Sometime prior to 1963, he returned to New York, to live in Massapequa. Shilkret lived to be 94 and died totally forgotten. He was living in his sons home in Franklin Square, New York, when he died, on February 18, 1982.

Along the way he lost all of his music in a house fire. However, posterity is slowly recognizing his merit—the Genesis Suite has become recognized as a major event in American Jewish culture, Shilkret's involvement in symphonic jazz is viewed as central to the genre, and the many happy, hot, and semi-hot dance records he made in the 1920s and early '30s form a respectable legacy unto themselves.  (Info mainly from Jeff Hopkins amd ALL Music)