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Friday, 18 March 2016

George Olsen born 18 March 1893

George Olsen (18 March 1893 - 18 March 1971) was an American band-leader who had one of the country's most popular dance bands during the 1920s.

George interviewed on the RCA radio in 1926
Born in Portland, Oregon, he played the drums and attended the University of Michigan, where he was drum major. Here he formed his band, George Olsen and his Music, which continued in the Portland area. He then made the cross-county transition to
Broadway, appearing in Kid Boots, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1924, and Good News.
George Olsen and his Music were prolific Victor recording artists and their records are among the most numerous found by record collectors today, testifying to their original popularity. Olsen signed with Victor in 1924 and remained as one of Victor's most popular bands until 1933 when he signed with Columbia. He became a rival to the top-rated orchestras of Paul Whiteman and Fred Waring. Olsen's most successful recording was the 1925 smash hit, "Who?", and was followed by many others including, "Lucky Day", "Do Do Do", "Varsity Drag", and "Doin' the Racoon".

The 1926 Olsen Orchestra had such members as George Olsen: violin, Red Pepper: trumpet, Chuck Campbell: trombone, Dick Stable: clarinet and alto sax, Ed Killfeather: piano, Jack Hansen: Tuba, and others unknown.
He and his orchestra were in Eddie Cantor's 1928 Broadway hit Whoopee!, and in the 1930 movie version. Olsen's bands, though excellent, produced few stars. Singer-saxophonist Fred MacMurray passed through in 1930 on his way to eventual movie stardom, recording a vocal on I'm in the Market for You. Olsen's long-time alto saxist and singer, Fran Frey, with his distinctive, reedy bass-baritone, was perhaps the best known Olsenite until he left in 1933 for a career as a music director in radio.
Another of Olsen’s female singers was Ethel Shutta, who later became Mrs George Olsen. Ethel, was his wife for many years, -from the Ziegfield Broadway show, 'Whoopee' until the late 1930s, when they divorced and she married George Kirksey, a sports writer for NEA. Olsen was Jack Benny's first orchestra leader when Benny began his weekly show for Canada Dry on radio in 1931.

George Olsen and Ethel Shutta
Olsen stayed with Columbia through January, 1934. Unfortunately, the band seemed to lose it's spirit and vitality in the 1930s, and disappeared with the coming of the Big Band Swing era. In the mid-1930s, when another bandleader, Orville Knapp, was killed, Olsen was chosen to lead the band by Knapp's widow. He added the new 'tag': "The Music of Tomorrow" but he had no good success with it. He recorded a single session in 1938 for Decca, and one final date for the rare Varsity label in 1940.
On May 17, 1940, the Olsen orchestra appeared on the stage of The Lyric Theatre of Indianapolis (Indiana), with 'The Bachelors' vocal group, consisting of Bob Rice, Ronnie Mansfield, and Jack Clifford.

After his 1951 retirement from band leading, George Olsen opened a successful restaurant in Paramus, New Jersey where his old recordings were played as the background music.

He ran it for many years before he died there on March 18, 1971 (aged 78.) (Info various sources, mainly Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “George Olsen – Beyond The Blue Horizon” go here:

1. Beyond The Blue Horizon
2. Sunny
3. Who?
4. Always
5. Horses
6. The Girl Friend
7. Lucky Day
8. Do-Do-Do
9. Someone To Watch Over Me
10. Blue Skies
11. Where's That Rainbow?
12. At Sundown, When Love Is Calling Me Home
13. Good News
14. The Best Things In Life Are Free
15. The Varsity Drag
16. Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now
17. Just Like A Melody From Out Of The Sky
18. Doin' The Raccoon
19. A Precious Little Thing Called Love
20. Makin' Whoopee!
21. Lullaby Of The Leaves
22. Listen To The German Band
23. Lou'siana Lullaby
24. The Last Round-Up

A big thank you to Marty @ The Vintage Music Blog for original link.