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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Ralph Flanagan born 7 April 1919

Ralph Flanagan (born Ralph Elias Flenniken; April 7, 1914* in Lorain, Ohio – December 30, 1995 in Miami, Florida) was a famed big band leader, conductor, pianist, composer, and arranger for the orchestras of Hal McIntyre, Sammy Kaye, Blue Barron, Charlie Barnet, and Alvino Rey.
He was educated at Lorain High School, where he was a member of the National Honours Society, the student senate, the school newspaper staff (Hi-Y) and the chorus. Flanagan played piano with several local bands during his teen years, eventually becoming pianist-arranger with Sammy Kaye in 1940. He was a member of the Merchant Marines during World War II and later provided arrangements for Charlie Barnet, Sammy Kaye, Gene Krupa, Blue Barron, Alvino Rey, Tony Pastor and many other bands. He also worked with a number of singers including Mindy Carson and Perry Como.
He struck lucky when Herb Hendler, who worked for a minor record label, commissioned him to provide an album devoted to cover versions of Glenn Miller favourites. The resulting record sold so well that when Hendler moved to a job at RCA-Victor Records, he persuaded that company (which owned all the original Miller masters) to release further tracks by Flanagan. This time, he grafted Miller-style arrangements onto material not formerly associated with the Miller band. The ploy paid off and the records sold prolifically, encouraging Flanagan to form a full-time orchestra in early 1950 and to take it out on the road.
He joined the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 1950. The Flanagan orchestra's theme songs were "Giannina Mia" and "Singing Winds.
The band was heavily influenced by Miller, and their vocal group, the Singing Winds, emulated the sounds of the Pied Pipers. Flanagan’s band also boasted a good male vocalist named Harry Prime, filling the Ray Eberle role. As a result, the band quickly became one of the biggest crowd-pullers on the big-band circuit, hit records coming with ‘Rag Mop’, ‘Nevertheless’ and ‘Harbour Lights’ in 1950, followed by ‘his own composition ‘Hot Toddy’. His recording of "Slow Poke", a #6 hit in early 1952, was the very first song played on the initial edition of the Today Show on January 14, 1952.


 Flanagan enjoyed flying his own single-engine plane to jobs, when possible.  He escaped injury in 1954 when the light plane he was piloting crashed, as he was taking off from a Chicago airport.  His plane was caught in the prop wash of a four engine aircraft.
The success of the Flanagan band sparked off a whole Miller revival, with such former Miller-men as Ray Anthony and Jerry Gray, plus many others who had never even met Miller, organizing bands that echoed the Miller sound. Most of these imitators gradually faded.
Over a relatively short period Flanagan and his group generated a surprising number of records, judging by what is still available. But the music world was changing rapidly, and as the years passed Flanagan eventually dissolved the band and found himself mostly composing and arranging for others. . During the peak of his career, he also lived in the suburban village of Malverne, New York. Eventually retiring from music, he died in Miami, Florida at the age 81 in 1995.
As of August 19, 2010, Ralph Flanagan and his Orchestra were listed by EMI Music as a missing royaltor, which means that EMI have lost contact with the estate of Flanagan and his heirs and band members, and that royalty checks are being returned to the record company by the Post Office.

(Info edited from AMG & Wikipedia) (* a few sources give birth year as 1919) 


boppinbob said...

For “Ralph Flanagan – Big Band Sounds” go here:

1. Rag Mop
2. On the Road to Mandalay
3. I Should Care
4. Hot Toddy
5. Nights Of Splendour
6. Slow Poke
7. (When We're Alone) Penthouse Serenade
8. Nevertheless
9. I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time
10. Dear Hearts and Gentle People
11. La Vie en Rose
12. Don't Cry Joe
13. Some Enchanted Evening
14. Harbour Lights
15. Joshua
16. Giannina Mia
17. Serenade
18. Slow Drive
19. You're Breaking My Heart
20. Singing Winds
21. Street Of Dreams
22. If I Loved You
23. My Hero
24. Where Or When
25. Vienna City Of My Dreams

Here’s a collection of tracks gleaned from the web, to highlight Ralph Flanagan & his Orchestra.

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