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Monday, 21 December 2015

Luise King born 21 December 1913

Luise King (21 December 1913 – 4 August 1997) was a member of  an American big band-era vocal group consisting of six sisters: Alyce, Donna, Luise, Marilyn, Maxine, and Yvonne King.

The group began with Maxine, Luise, and Alyce as a trio. At some point Maxine declared that going professional really didn’t suit her and the group eventually took on Donna and Yvonne King and they remained a foursome for many years. In the early 1950's Donna left the group and youngest sister Marilyn joined the group. In 1965 all six sisters sang together on "The King Family" television series and continued singing together in concert into the late 70's and on The King Family's 17 TV specials.
Born to a large musical family, the King Sisters were a popular vocal act during the big band era and are best remembered today for their television variety program during the late 1960s and early 1970s. They began their music careers as part of the Driggs Family of Entertainers, playing local churches and small concert halls in their native Utah before moving to California in 1924.

In the early 1930s sisters Luise, Maxine and Alyce formed a vocal trio along the lines of their idols, the Boswell Sisters, and travelled to San Francisco to audition for radio station KGO (to replace the Boswell Sisters themselves, who were leaving the station). The audition went poorly but they soon landed a job at Oakland radio station KLX, where they adopted the name King, their father's middle name.
The sisters later broadcast for KSL in Salt Lake City, where they were heard by bandleader Horace Heidt. In 1935 he offered them a job with his orchestra at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco. The group was a popular addition to Heidt's stage show and travelled with him to Chicago. Maxine left the group in 1936 to be married. Sisters Donna and Yvonne took her place, forming a four-part harmony. Louise fell in love with Heidt guitarist Alvino Rey, and they were married in 1937.
In 1938 Heidt's orchestra landed a spot at the Biltmore Hotel in New York. Their new radio sponsor had signed them on the strength of Alyce's vocals. Heidt was resentful and seized upon the first opportunity to fire her when one night her microphone fell off its stand and hit a patron. The other sisters immediately quit, followed by Rey. They headed to Los Angeles, where the sisters landed a recording contract with RCA and a spot on Artie Shaw's radio program while Rey worked on forming his own band.
Rey's orchestra debuted with the sisters as key vocalists in 1939 and was an immediate success. They began touring the country and were later booked into the Biltmore, where they had been fired a year earlier and were quickly fired again when Rey played a jazz number instead of the society dance music favoured by the house. The group found refuge in New Jersey at the Rustic Cabin, where they were broadcast over radio station WOR. Their big break came in 1941 when they were asked to substitute for an ailing Dinah Shore at New York's Paramount Theatre. The engagement led to increased exposure, and they soon found themselves one of the most popular acts in the country, garnering top ten hits and making appearances in Hollywood films.

      Here's a 1947 recording of "For You" from above album.

In 1944 Rey dissolved his band and joined the Navy. The sisters kept busy with radio work while he was away and re-joined his new orchestra after the war. Rey broke up the new orchestra in 1950, and the sisters took leave from show business to concentrate on their families. They made a comeback in the late 1950s with Rey as music director and sister Marilyn replacing Donna.
Signing with Capitol Records they released an album of Hawaiian music, followed by a daring vocal album called Imagination. Modernizing their sound along the lines of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, they created an innovative jazz harmony and once again came into the spotlight. They followed Imagination with the equally inventive Warm and Wonderful, which featured a group of male singers providing counterpoint.
In 1965 ABC broadcast a special featuring the extended King Family. This special grew into a series which ran for five seasons. The sisters continued making sporadic appearances throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Last photo of the Six King Sisters, circa 1995 - First Row, L to R: Alyce, Maxine, Luise Second Row: Donna, Yvonne - Top: Marilyn
Luise King (Rey) died on August 4, 1997 from cancer, the year of her 60th wedding anniversary to Alvino Rey, who died February 24, 2004 at the age of 95.
Alyce King (Clarke) died on August 23, 1996 from respiratory problems.
Donna King (Conkling) passed away on June 16, 2007, at the age of 88, in Plano, Texas.
Yvonne (Burch) died on December 13, 2009, aged 89, after suffering a fall at her home in Santa Barbara, California.
Marilyn King died on August 7, 2013, aged 82, from cancer, also in California; she was the last surviving sister.
(info mainly from  
Taken directly from an excellent quality 35mm print, here is "Dreamers' Lullabye", as sung by The Four King Sisters. The exact date of this short film is unknown, but it is probably from around 1950. The Alvino Rey Orchestra accompany the sisters, with Buddy Cole predominantly featured on Celeste and piano. The film features the four real-life sisters, Yvonne, Luise, Donna and Alyce.

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “The king Sisters – For You” go here:

1 For You
2 Just Squeeze Me
3 When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano
4 What's the Use (instrumental)
5 Sophisticated Lady
6 Everybody Loves My Baby
7 Star Dust
8 Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
9 At Sundown
10 When My Dreamboat Comes Home
11 Crazy Rhythm (instrumental)
12 Miss Otis Regrets
13 Red Sails In The Sunset
14 The Man I love

All tracks recorded in 1947