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Monday, 4 January 2016

Carroll Gibbons born 4 January 1903


Carroll Gibbons (January 4, 1903 – May 10, 1954) was an American-born pianist, bandleader and popular composer who made his career primarily in England during the British dance band era. 

He was born and raised in Clinton, Massachusetts. He gave his first recital at the age of 10 at St. John’s Catholic Church, 80 Union Street. He grew up at 65 Forest Street and played in the Clinton High School orchestra and also wrote the class song.  After graduating from Clinton High School, where he was known as “Gibby,” he continued his studies at New England Conservatory of Music and the Royal Academy of Music in London. 

While still at NEC, Gibbons became fast friends with Rudy Vallee, a fellow classmate studying the saxophone. After graduating, the two men formed a band that became a regional sensation, barnstorming the New England scene of the early Jazz Age.   
In 1923, both musicians found themselves working at the Savoy Hotel, located just off the Strand, in the Westminster section of Central London. At the time, the establishment employed two working orchestras -- the Havana Band and the Orpheans. Both Gibbons and Vallee worked in each group. 

Gibbons soon collected a gig playing dinner music at the Berkeley Hotel in Piccadilly. He also began studying with Ambrose Coviello at the Royal Academy of Music. While at the Berkeley, Gibbons also began organizing his own band, and when a spot opened at the Savoy in 1926, the enterprising young pianist was hired. “The clientele at London’s top hotel quickly warmed to the quiet American with that unforgettable slow drawl – the result of speech therapy to cover up a childhood stammer. 

He later became the co-leader (with Howie Jacobs) of the Savoy Orpheans and the bandleader of the New MayFair Orchestra, which recorded for the Gramophone Company on the HMV label. In 1928 Gibbons became musical director of the Gramophone Company. He later held that position with both British and Dominion Film Corporation. In 1929, he appeared in the film Splinters, and would later contribute to such British celluloid as Trottle True, Call All Stars, I Live in Grosvenor Square, and Rookery Nook.  
Gibbons made occasional return trips to the United States but settled permanently in England, though he did spend a couple of years (1930–1931) in Hollywood, where he worked as a staff composer for MGM films. He took exclusive leadership of the Savoy Hotel Orpheans, which recorded hundreds of popular songs (many of which were sung by Anne Lenner) between June 1932 and his death in 1954, all featuring Gibbons on piano. 

Starting in about 1931, he also recorded many sophisticated records featuring a piano-led small group playing pop tunes and medleys under the name of Carroll Gibbons and his Boy Friends, of which some contained tracks by singer Hildegarde. 

As a composer, Gibbons's most popular songs included "A Garden in the Rain" (1928) and  his radio signature "On The Air" (1932) which was appropriated by American band leaders Rudy Vallée (1933) and 'Lud Gluskin' (1936).

Gibbons' instrumental numbers "Bubbling Over" and "Moonbeam Dance" were also quite successful in the United Kingdom. Gibbons and his orchestra had a weekly show on Radio Luxembourg in the 1930s, sponsored by Hartley's Jam. 

Through the radio, he became a household name with popular tunes like A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Dancing in the Dark, and I'm Going to Get Lit Up. His last recording was made in 1950 and marked the end of a remarkable recording career

After a short illness, Gibbons died in a London nursing home in 1954. He was 51. He is one of several famous musicians buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey, England. (Info edited from Wikipedia & worcestersongs.blogspot)

In this clip from the 1941 film "The Common Touch", Carroll Gibbons accompanies the actress Greta Gynt. A review I read of this film suggests that Miss Gynt's singing voice was dubbed, possibly by Anne Lennor.

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For 216 Carroll Gibbons recordings go here: