Donald Ross Cherry (born January 11, 1924) is an American singer of traditional pop music, best known for his 1955 hit, "Band of Gold"; and a former amateur and professional golfer.
Cherry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. He started as a big band singer, in the orchestras of Jan Garber, Victor Young and Tommy Dorsey. In 1951 he recorded his first solo hits, "Thinking of You" and "Belle, Belle, My Liberty Belle", the latter of which had a better-selling version by Guy Mitchell. In 1955 came his biggest hit, "Band of Gold".
He had three more hits in 1956 ("Wild Cherry", "Ghost Town" and "Namely You"), all of them backed by orchestra leader Ray Conniff. He was also the voice of the "Mr. Clean" commercials during the late 1950s and early 60s. His smooth, soulful style of singing earned him the respect of other singers (Vic Damone called him the “singer’s singer”).
Throughout his singing career, Cherry was also a top ranked amateur golfer, and was in contention to win the 1960 U.S. Open before eventually finishing in the top five, behind winner Arnold Palmer. He played on three Walker Cup teams: 1953, 1955, and 1961. He also won the Sunnehanna Amateur in 1954.
In 1962, Cherry decided to turn professional. In fact "Pro" was his nickname amongst his fellow entertainers and his skill on the golf course was matched only by his volcanic temper which, he said, "...made Tommy Bolt look like a choir boy!”
Cherry published his biography "Cherry's Jubilee" with co-writer Neil Daniels (Founder: Dean Martin Fan Center). He also collaborated with Willie Nelson on an album entitled "It's Magic" on DiamondDisc Records with The Allegro Media Group agreeing to distribute the CD in the USA and Canada.
In the mid-1960s, Cherry developed a life-long and almost inseparable friendship with singer Dean Martin. The happen-chance meeting between the pair occurred on the golf course in Las Vegas early one morning. The two hit it off right away. In addition to being golfing buddies, the two singers would often work the same nightclubs together. Martin performed in the main room while Cherry would headline the center arena or lounge. Cherry would also be a frequent guest on Martin's television show.
After appearing on The Dean Martin Show a number of times, Cherry was signed as a regular on Martin's 1967 summer show hosted by Vic Damone, Carol Lawrence and Gail Martin (Dean's daughter). That '67 Summer Show was so popular that it also aired again in 1971 as Martin's summer replacement.
After his first marriage ended in divorce in 1962 (producing two sons, Sean Ross Cherry and Stephen Patrick Cherry), Cherry remarried four years later to Joy Vera Blaine, a former Las Vegas showgirl and former Miss Nevada. Their fourteen-year marriage produced a daughter. Dean Martin was Cherry's Best Man at the wedding.
While jogging one day, Cherry met Francine Bond Smith, a former singer and dancer and a veteran of twenty-eight Broadway shows. Love soon blossomed and the couple married in 1993.
Like his friend, Dean Martin, Cherry experienced personal tragedy with the loss of a son. His youngest son, Stephen, 41, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, a victim of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Building in New York City. The first plane hit right where the younger Cherry's office was. Stephen Cherry, who also composed and recorded Country-Rock songs, left behind a wife and four sons.
Today, Don continues to appear in concert at various Las Vegas hotel/casinos, nightclubs throughout the country and special engagements. (info various, mainly Wikipedia)