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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hal McIntyre born 29 November 1914

At the age of 10, he began taking lessons on the saxophone and two years later started on the clarinet.  He was considered "one of the most charming and genuine men in the whole dance band field," according to author-historian George T. Simon. 

Alto saxophonist and bandleader Hal McIntyre worked with several local bands in his native Connecticut before forming his own eight-piece outfit in 1935. In 1937 McIntyre was hired as a temporary replacement in Benny Goodman's orchestra. Though the job lasted for only ten days he caught the ear of Glenn Miller, who was busy organizing a new band. McIntyre became the first musician hired for Miller's group, only to see it break up after a few months due to financial problems. When Miller made another attempt in 1938 McIntyre signed on again. This time Miller succeeded, and his orchestra soon became the hottest band in the country, with McIntyre an integral part of its now famous sound. 

 McIntyre quickly became close friends with Miller, and in 1941 the bandleader convinced him to form his own group, offering to back it financially. Billed as ''The Band That America Loves,'' McIntyre's orchestra debuted that same year at the Glen Island Casino.

The band had two theme songs: "Moon Mist" and "Ecstasy". The vocals were handled by Ruth Gaylor and, later, ex-Goodman girl Helen Ward. Hal himself tried hard to emulate the style of Johnny Hodges on his alto sax, particularly for the slower ballads. The band was well exposed on radio and played at some of the top venues, including the Glen Island Casino and the Hollywood Palladium. It was twice voted by Billboard Magazine as the most promising orchestra of the year (1942 and 1943).

The group proved quite popular and went on to play at many of the top venues around the country, including at the Statler Hotel in Washington, D.C., for President Roosevelt's Birthday Ball in 1945. Vocalists included Helen Ward, Gloria Van, Ruth Gaylor, Carl Denney, and Al Nobel. Dave Matthews, Ralph Flanagan, and Howard Gibeling arranged. The orchestra's standout musician was bassist Eddie Safranksi, who later went on to greater fame with Stan Kenton. Saxophonist Les Elgart also played with the band. The photo on the right  is of  Ruth Gaylor and Hal McIntyre in 1945.


 In 1945 McIntyre took his orchestra overseas on a USO sponsored tour. He was forced to quickly hire several new musicians when some of his key men failed to meet the requirements for the trip. This caused his sound to briefly suffer, though he managed to get the band into shape again by the time they returned to the states. The group remained together into the 1950s, He toured extensively with songstress Sunny Gale until the summer of '51. He also provided backup for the Mills Brothers 1952 hit ''Glow Worm.''

To supplement his dwindling income as a bandleader, McIntyre had purchased a chicken ranch in Coeur d'Alene, ID with Jeanne McManus, whom he had hired as his vocalist beginning in late 1952.

In the fall of 1958, McIntyre's band performed along the west coast, like in Portland, OR and Yakima, WA, but then the work really dropped off.  In fact, after playing at an air force base near Riverside, CA on March 9, 1959, the band became completely inactive.  His booking agency, General Artists Corporation (GAC), put together a string of dance dates throughout the west and southwest in April, and was trying to secure a long engagement for the band in Las Vegas, starting in late May.
Hal himself settled in California after a marital split-up.

However, early in the morning of May 3rd, while resting on a couch at McManus' Hollywood apartment, McIntyre apparently fell asleep while smoking.  Flames engulfed the place and he was burned severely over his entire lower body.  Firemen found him unconscious, under a smoldering blanket on the kitchen floor, and McIntyre, only 44 years old, died a couple days later at a local hospital.

His, son, Hal Jr. (dec'd), was a talented saxophone and clarinet player who attended Berklee College of Music in the 1960s. In the 1970s, Hal Jr ran a big band in the Boston area, playing many of the original McIntyre Orchestra arrangements.

Since 2004, Don Pentleton has been cautiously guarding the musical legacy of the late bandleader as drummer and director of The Hal McIntyre Orchestra. He intends that McIntyre's music will continue to be heard for many more years to come.  

(Info edited mainly from from Big Band Library,com., IMDB & various sources)

Vintage performance! “St. Louis Blues” taken from the film SING ME A SONG OF TEXAS (1945).

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