Monday, 30 October 2017

Patsy Montana born 30 October 1908

Ruby Rose Blevins (October 30, 1908 – May 3, 1996), known professionally as Patsy Montana, was an American country music singer-songwriter and the first female country performer to have a million-selling single ("I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart"). She is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Ruby Blevins (she added an "e" to Ruby in her late teens) was born in Beaudry, Arkansas and grew up near Hope. She had ten siblings, all of them boys, However, two died before puberty from an accidental fire. 

In 1929, Blevins went to California to study violin at the University of the West. She won a local talent contest with her singing, yodelling, and playing the guitar and first prize was an opportunity to play on the Hollywood Breakfast Club radio program. 

In the summer of 1933, Blevins went with two of her brothers to the Chicago World's Fair. The trip's mission was to enter a large, prize watermelon the Blevins had raised, and Rubye was invited to go, mainly to meet up with two pen pals, Millie and Dolly Good (The Girls of the Golden West). While in Chicago, she auditioned for a crooner's role. However, she began laughing halfway through the song. The producer on hand fell in love with her "giggle" and auditioned her instead at WLS-AM for a group called the Prairie Ramblers. Blevins and the Ramblers became regulars on WLS's National Barn Dance program. The Prairie Ramblers also backed Blevins on most of her hits with ARC Records, Decca Records, and RCA Records. 
In 1934, Blevins' repertoire included "Montana Plains", a reworking of a song originally called "Texas Plains". Blevins further altered the composition, which became her signature song, "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart". Released in 1935, the song made Blevins the first female country recording artist to have a million seller. Blevins performed on National Barn Dance until the 1950s, and worked with the likes of Gene Autry, Pat Buttram, Red Foley, the Girls of the Golden West and George Gobel.

Blevins took her stage name from silent film star and world-champion roper, Monte Montana, with whom she had an opportunity to work early in her career. She made one feature-length movie called Colorado Sunset with Buttram and Gene Autry.

Barn Dance also introduced her to her future husband, Paul Rose. Rose was a stage manager for Gene Autry at the time, and was always around when Autry was performing, which just so happened to be when Patsy was performing. According to Patsy (as she was by this time called by everyone who knew her), they were the "only two single people involved with the show and kinda got thrown together."  

Though Rose was around five years her junior, they married on July 3, "honeymooned," and July 4 went their separate ways on different tours. Two weeks later they were again united, but throughout their married life they often followed this pattern. The couple had two daughters, Beverly and Judy. Montana and her two daughters later appeared as the Patsy Montana Trio. 

After semi-retiring in the late 1950s to spend more time with her family, Montana attempted a comeback in 1964. She released an album on the Sims label in Arizona, notable for having Waylon Jennings as lead guitar player before he made his national debut. The album was later re-released by Starday Records. She influenced later singers Patsy Cline and Dottie West. 

Montana's signature song, "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart", appears over the end credits of John Sayles's 1996 film Lone Star, which was released just weeks after Montana's death.


Montana died on May 3, 1996 at her home in San Jacinto, California. She is buried at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1987 and in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1996. (Info Wikipedia)

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Conny Froboess born 28 October 1943

Cornelia Froboess (born 28 October 1943, Wriezen) was the first child singing star in Germany's history and subsequently became a teen idol during the late '50s and early '60s. During that time, Froboess appeared in many West German and Austrian musical films, especially after the rock and roll wave had hit Germany 

Born Cornelia Froboess in 1943, she grew up in postwar Germany and was a natural singer as well as an actress. Working under the professional name Conny Froboess -- although she also later recorded as Cornelia Froboess -- she had her first hit in 1951 at age eight, in the form of a pop number titled "Pack die Badehose Ein" (aka "Pack Your Swimsuit"), which had been written by her father and was so popular that it became a lingering pop culture catch phrase. 

She continued singing throughout the decade and remained a popular figure, using both of her names on different occasions. As rock & roll's influence began to be felt in Germany, Froboess -- who was still a teenager and, thus, a natural fit for the new music --
began doing occasional rhythm numbers that incorporated a livelier, quasi-rock & roll beat into her music, roughly akin to what Connie Francis was doing in America and Petula Clark was doing in England and France at around the same time.  

Meanwhile, on screen, she further cultivated this shift in image in a series of music-oriented movies in which she was teamed romantically with actor Peter Kraus, using their real first names -- the "Conny und Peter" series ran into the early '60s and made use of both her acting and singing talents. Conny Froboess was for many years the embodiment of the ideal Berlin girl, sort of the German equivalent of what Sandra Dee embodied in America in the role of Gidget, representing a quintessential Southern California teenager.


Froboess reached the peak of her music career in 1962, when she placed sixth in the Eurovision Aong Contest with the number "Zwei Kleine Italiener" (aka "Two Little Italians"), which became her only chart-topping single in Germany. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.The same year she appeared as herself in Jean Renoir's comedy film The Elusive Corporal. 
Though Conny enjoyed further hits in 1963 with Verliebt, verlobt, verheiratet (a duet with Peter Alexander), Skip-du-bi-du and Drei Musketiere, sessions in the recording studio began to become less and less frequent. In 1964, she was teamed with Peter Alexander again, this time in the film Hilfe, meine Braut klaut, and enjoyed just one top 40 solo hit, Hey, Baron Münchhausen. 

If Conny had been in any doubt as to which direction to take her career in, public and critical acclaim for her role in the 1965 TV film Wahn oder der Teufel in Boston proved decisive. After that, her efforts at maintaining a pop career were half-hearted at best. 

Ich geh’ durch den Regen became her last chart hit, reaching number 38 in May 1966. She switched to Polydor for one final 45 and an LP, both issued in 1967 under the name of Cornelia Froboess (the name she would use from then on), but her pop career was all but over by this time. 

Indeed, she married Austrian theatre director Hellmuth Matiasek that year, and cut short her honeymoon to be able to star in the film Rheinsberg. She won the Ernst Lubitsch prize for her role, and in 1968 she won a Golden Camera for the title role in the film Matilde Möhring. 

She became an in-demand actress and continued to work throughout the rest of the decade and into the 1970s. In 1972, she joined Munich’s Kammerspiele theatre, and appeared in numerous plays over the following 20 years. Among her best-known stage roles is that of Eliza Doolittle in the musical My fair lady at Munich’s Theater am Gärtnerplatz in the 1980s. At the Salzburg Festival 2004, she played Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night. The same year she played the title role in Bertolt Brecht's play Mother Courage and Her Children. She continues to work to this day. 

(Compiled from an All Music bio by Bruce Eder, info from & Wikipedia)

Friday, 27 October 2017

Kai Warner born 27 October 1926

Kai Warner was the stage name of Werner Last (27 October 1926 – 9 July 1982), a German bandleader and musician, and the brother of James Last and Robert Last.

Born in Bremen, Warner took piano lessons from Ernst Weelen and received theory instruction from the Max Reger and Engelbert Humperdinck student Richard Bulling. 

After the war, Werner Last appeared as a trombonist along with his brothers Hans (bassist, later known as James Last) and Robert Last (drummer) in Bremen music halls and in the American clubs in the vicinity of Bremerhaven. At this point, he was discovered by the composer and manager Friedrich Meyer and hired for the newly formed dance orchestra of Radio Bremen.  

The Last brothers became well known as members of the Last-Becker Ensemble. Werner Last found his first success as an arranger. After the disbandment of the Bremen dance orchestra in 1948, he played for a time in a 12-man band, then went to seek his fortune in the USA. Before this, he married the 18-year-old Hjördis Harlow, an American of Norwegian descent. From this marriage came two sons, Steven and Werner. 

In the USA, Werner had to make his living as a casual labourer for several months before he was admitted into the New York musician's union. As a trombonist, he belonged to several renowned big bands. As well, he studied music theory at New York University with Schillinger professor Rudolf Schramm. 

In 1958, Werner Last returned to Germany and arranged numerous film scores. In 1966 he signed a contract as a producer with Polydor; he discovered and produced Renate Kern. As Kai Warner, he started his own orchestra, which included many musicians who played with James Last (such as his brother Robert Last, who had already played drums on the earliest James Last sessions). In 1975, Kai Warner switched from Polydor to Philips. 

Besides his LPs like Pops For Minis, Happy Together, Goldtimer 1 and 2, his name is forever linked with the Go-In series, which continued later on Philips under the name Go-In Party. 
                              Here's "Flamingo" from above album.

Other albums: So In Love, Love Songs, Romantic Songs, Wer recht in Freuden tanzen will, Warner Plays Wagner, Golden Violins, Volkslieder Festival, On The Road To Philadelphia, Swingin' Johann, Salsoul Explosion, A Glass Of Champagne, Dance To The Beatles, Zum Tanz Marsch Marsch, Polka wie noch nie, Oriental Nights, It's Country Time, and naturally the Christmas album Christmas Party. 

He also made several recordings with his Kai Warner Singers, a mixed choir made up of six women and six men often accompanied only by a rhythm section, like Ray Conniff used to do it in his 70s albums.  

He died in Hamburg aged 55. (Info Wikipedia)

Monday, 23 October 2017

Betty Bennett born 23 October 1921

Betty Bennett (born October 23, 1921) is an American jazz singer. 

Betty Bennett was born 23 October 1921 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child, she hoped to become an opera singer, studying voice and pianowhile attending Drake University. Her direction was changed when, by way of records, her mother introduced her to the music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Loving what she heard of these jazz musicians, Betty quickly became proficient in jazz singing, displaying a natural talent for the form. While still very young, she joined Georgie Auld’s band in 1943.  
After completing time in the navy in 1945, her first major signing was with the Claude Thornhill band in 1946, the band in which her husband, bassist Iggy Shevak, was playing. Shortly after her husband left to join Alvino Rey, Bennett followed him there.Then in quick succession spent time in the late swing era big bands led by Charlie Ventura and briefly with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman. The Ventura band bore the promo tag ‘Bop for the People’ and Betty’s contemporary vocal styling was a perfect fit. More than her contemporaries, Betty bridged swing and bop. Apart from airshots, Betty’s recording career got underway with 1949-1951 sessions by the Ventura band, including performances of Yankee Clipper, Too Marvelous For Words and I Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind.
Betty recorded her first own-name album for Trend in 1953, the songs including Nobody’s Heart, Time After Time and You’re Nearer. Two years later, she recorded for Atlantic Records accompanied by a band led by André Previn, whom she had married in 1952.  In the band for Nobody Else But Me were Shorty Rogers, who with Previn also wrote the charts, Frank Rosolino, Bob Cooper, Jimmy Giuffre, Barney Kessell and Shelly Manne.
In addition to jazz club dates, Betty had begun appearing on the jazz festival circuit and in 1975 she celebrated a new personal relationship when she and Mundell Lowe were married at a ceremony held at the Monterey Jazz Festival. By the late '80s she was touring Europe with Lowe, and was a featured performer for opening night of Wolsey's club in London.
The marriage of Betty Bennett and Mundell Lowe at Monterey in 1975 was also a joining of musical minds as is apparent from the 1990 Fresh Sound recording session that resulted in The Song Is You. Here, accompanied by Bob Cooper, George Cables, Monty Budwig, and Roy McCurdy, the couple perform fine interpretations of songs such as You Must Believe In Spring, No More Blues, I Thought About You and The Eagle And Me.
Separately and together, over the years Betty Bennett and Mundell Lowe have made significant contributions to jazz that are always lithely swinging. Betty’s singing, lyrically profound and musically adventurous, and Mundy’s elegant and deceptively sparse exploration of the often overlooked subtleties of many compositions, have allowed them to create memorable interpretations of standards from the repertoire of both jazz and popular song.
Betty’s experiences in the big band years are entertainingly recounted in her autobiography, The Ladies Who Sing With The Band, which was published by Scarecrow Press in 2000.
 (Compiled mainly from and bio by Ron Wynn)

FOOTNOTE: Betty Bennett, died at her home in Southern California, April 7, 2020 at the age of 98

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Annette Funicello born 22 October 1942

Annette Joanne Funicello (October 22, 1942 – April 8, 2013) was an American actress and singer. She was Walt Disney's most popular cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club, and went on to appear in a series of beach party films. 

Born on October 22, 1942, in Utica, New York, Annette Joanne Funicello, she took dancing and music lessons as a child to try to overcome shyness. She moved with her family to Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley when she was 4 years old. Funicello gained early fame as an actress on Walt Disney's The Mickey Mouse Club, quickly becoming the show's most popular cast member, and went on to appear in a series of beach party films. 

After dancing the lead in Walt Disney's production of Swan Lake at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California, in 1955, Funicello was invited by Disney to audition for his new children's show, The Mickey Mouse Club. She landed a part on the show, which premiered in October 1955, when Funicello was just 13 years old, and soon became the series' the most popular "Mouseketeer."
Audiences regularly tuned in to watch Funicello and other members of the children's variety show perform song and dance routines in turtle-neck sweaters displaying their names in big block letters, blue skirts/slacks and, most notably, mouse-eared beanies. By the end of the first season of Mickey Mouse Club, she was receiving 6,000 letters a month, according to her Disney Legends biography.

The actress would later credit the show as her claim to fame and an incredible learning experience, and call Walt Disney her "second father." She once stated, "I've always found Mr. Disney to be somewhat of a shy person, a kid at heart." 

After leaving The Mickey Mouse Club, Annette Funicello remained under contract to Disney and appeared on TV shows such as Zorro (1957) and The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca (1958). She also starred in a number of Disney feature films, including The Shaggy Dog (1959), Babes in Toyland (1961), The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964) and The Monkey's Uncle (1965).
Although uncomfortable being thought of as a singer, Annette had a number of pop record hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly written by the Sherman Brothers and including: "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," "O Dio Mio," "Train of Love" (written by Paul Anka) and "Pineapple Princess." They were released by Disney's Buena Vista label.  

Walt Disney was reportedly a fan of 1950s pop star Teresa Brewer and tried to pattern Annette's singing in the same style. However, Funicello credits "the Annette sound" to her record producer, Tutti Camarata, who worked for Disney in that era. Camarata had her double-track her vocals, matching her first track as closely as possible on the second recording to achieve a fuller sound than her voice would otherwise produce. Early in her career, she appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. 

In the early 1960s, Funicello starred in a series of beach party films with Frankie Avalon, including Beach Party (1963), Muscle Beach Party (1964), Bikini Beach (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). During this time, she also recorded a series of Top 40 pop singles, including "Tall Paul," "First Name Initial," "How Will I Know My Love" and "Pineapple Princess." 

In 1987, Funicello again teamed up with Frankie Avalon to co-produce and star as parents of a pair of troublesome teenagers in Paramount's Back to the Beach. Then, in 1989 and 1990, Avalon and Funicello staged a nostalgic concert tour, performing the beach party music and hit singles they made famous in the 1960s.

In 1992, Funicello announced that she had been battling multiple sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disease, since 1987. To assist in fundraising to fight neurological disorders, the actress founded the Annette Funicello Teddy Bear Company. She also developed her own perfume line, Cello by Annette.  

The disease had severely damaged her nervous system; Funicello had lost the ability to walk in 2004, the ability to speak in 2009, and she required round-the-clock care in order to survive.

Annette Funicello died on April 8, 2013, at age 70, at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, California. She was survived by second husband Glen Holt, whom she married in 1986, and three children from her earlier marriage to Jack Gilardi (1965-1981).

Here's a clip from Walt Disney Presents "The Golden Horseshoe Revue" from the 1960's, Annette Funicello singing "Mr. Piano Man, Please!"

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Dickie Pride born 21 October 1941

Dickie Pride (21 October 1941 — 26 March 1969), was a British rock and roll singer. He was one of Larry Parnes' stable of pop music stars, who did not enjoy as successful a career as most of his contemporaries. 

Pride was born Richard Charles Knellar in Thornton Heath on October 21, 1941. As a young boy he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Church Music in Croydon and had a fine operatic voice, but like many young men at that time, he preferred popular music and formed his own skiffle group called the Semi-Tones. 

He had several poorly paid jobs. While performing one night at the Castle pub in Tooting, South London, his singing was heard by Russ Conway, who was so impressed that he recommended him to Parnes, who signed him on the spot. After the obligatory name change (which all of Parnes' singers had to do), he entered the professional world as Dickie Pride -- still only 16 years old -- with a first gig at the Kilburn Gaumont cinema, at that time the biggest cinema in the country. 
The Record Mirror wrote of his performance that "he ripped it up from the start," and he so shook up the theater that he became known as "the Sheik of Shake." This was followed by tours and  television shows. Norrie Paramore signed him to the Columbia Records label and in March 1959 released his first single "Slippin' and Slidin'" (a cover of the song made famous by Little Richard). He made his TV debut on Jack Good's flagship pop music show “Oh Boy“ in February of 1959 in which he made several appearances.

Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde & Dickie Pride
He performed in 'The Big Beat Show' at Southend with Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Terry Dene, Johnny Gentle, Duffy Power and Sally Kelly  Despite his live performances, with most of his subsequent recordings, commercially Pride was far below expectations. The only single of Pride's that ever made it into the Top 40 in the UK Singles Chart - "Primrose Lane" appeared in October 1959 for only one week in 28th place.

In April 1960 the first edition of Jack Good's rock and roll TV show, Wham! was shown on ABC-TV, and included Pride. The guitarist, Albert Lee, had his first professional stage appearance as an accompanist of Pride.This show featured future hitmakers
including Billy Fury, Joe Brown, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Jess Conrad, and the Vernons Girls.

Pride was very successful during live performances but had difficulty transferring this success to his recordings. Unable to find a song that would launch him into the big time, Larry Parnes and Norrie Paramore supplied the song "Primrose Lane," a ballad that just scraped into the charts for one week at number 28 in October 1959, and despite his obvious talent for singing live, it never transferred successfully to recordings. 
One final attempt was made in 1961 with an album of Tin Pan Alley standards featuring Eric Jupp & His Orchestra called Pride Without Prejudice, the LP was intended to position him as a mainstream all-around entertainer. When it sold very badly, he was dropped by Larry Parnes.

He was married in 1962 and found he could not make a living by singing, so he took up menial labor again. He attempted to start a band in 1963,  but the group was short-lived. He and his wife were blessed with a son in 1965, and Dickie had started performing with a group known as the Sidewinders. Unfortunately, he fell deeper into heroin addiction.
After a slow fall into depression and a family break-up, he was committed to a mental hospital in 1967. His doctors decided that what he needed was a lobotomy, and performed the operation.  He was released and once again tried to make a living as a singer. Finding work and any sort of commercial success eluding him, he and died on March 26, 1969, just 27 years of age, from an overdose of sleeping pills.  

Many of the stable of Larry Parnes' artists, including Billy Fury and Joe Brown, were devastated, claiming that out of all of them, Dickie Pride had been the most talented and the best singer, but fate had decreed it just wasn't to be. 

In 1999, Charles Langley wrote the stage play, Pride With Prejudice, about Pride's tragic life.
(Compiled mainly from All Music & Wikipedia)
Here’s a clip taken from TV show “Oh Boy“ originally transmitted on 30/5/1959.  Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde and Dickie Pride sing 'Three Cool Cats'  whilst three Vernon Girls dance to the song.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Annette Hanshaw born 18 October 1901

Catherine Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 – March 13, 1985) was one of the first popular female jazz singers. In the late 1920s she ranked alongside Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith and the Boswell Sisters. Her short-lived recording career produced upwards to 250 sides. Annette was often confused for the voice of Betty Boop - singer Helen Kane.
This petite, shy, introverted girl chose retirement over fame. It is said that she was more comfortable in the recording studio amongst the musicians than public appearances. Unlike most performers of the day, Annette never toured or performed on stage after becoming famous.  

For many years it was believed that Annette had been born in 1910 and began her recording career shortly before her 16th birthday. However, it has recently come to light that she was in fact  born nine years earlier, making her 24 at the time of her first commercial recording in September 1926. Her nephew, Frank W. Hanshaw III, has confirmed 1901 as the date on her birth certificate. 

Her singing style was relaxed and suited to the new jazz-influenced pop music of the late 1920s. Although she had a low opinion of her own singing, she continued to have fans because she combined the voice of an ingenue with the spirit of a flapper. Hanshaw was known as "The Personality Girl," and her trademark was saying "That's all," in a childish voice at the end of many of her records. 

Catherine Annette Hanshaw was born at her parent's residence in Manhattan on October 18, 1901. She sang for guests at hotels owned by her father and demoed sheet music at her family's music store, The Melody Shop, in Mount Kisco, New York. Hanshaw aspired to be a portrait painter, studying at the National School of Design for a year. Her professional music career started when she was paid to sing for society and birthday parties. 

She started singing in 1926 on local radio a couple of known times while visiting in Florida with her family prior to making her first recording. Her first commercial recordings “Black Bottom” and “Six Feet of Papa” were made in New York on September of the same year.  

Between September 1926 and February 1934, she recorded prolifically. From 1926–28 she recorded for Pathe (her sides were released on both the Pathe and Perfect labels). Starting in June 1928, she recorded for Columbia; most of these were issued on their dime store labels Harmony, Diva, Clarion and Velvet Tone. A handful were also released on their regular price Columbia and OKeh. Although most were released under her own name, she was renamed Gay Ellis (for sentimental numbers) and Dot Dare or Patsy Young (for her Helen Kane impersonations).
Hanshaw's singing style was relaxed and suited to the jazz-influenced pop music of the late 1920s and early 1930s. She combined the voice of an ingénue with the spirit of a flapper. 

She recorded under a number of other pseudonyms which included Ethel Bingham, Marion Lee, Janet Shaw, and Lelia Sandford. Starting in August 1932, she began recording for the ARC with her recordings issued on their Melotone, Perfect, Conqueror, Oriole and Romeo. Her final session, February 3, 1934 was placed on ARC's Vocalion label. 

Hanshaw made her one and only appearance on film in the 1933 Paramount short Captain Henry's Radio Show, "a picturization" of the popular Thursday evening radio program Maxwell House Show Boat, in which she starred from 1932 to 1934.

Having grown tired of show business, in the late 1930s Hanshaw retired and settled into married life with her husband, Pathé Records executive Herman "Wally" Rose. Later in life, in a would-be comeback, she recorded two demo records, but they were never released.

During the 1970's Annette appeared on a Canadian Broadcast Company radio show called "The Entertainers". The show featured reminisces from famous Columbia recording producer John Hammond, well-known Jazz historian Brian Rust, and some others who knew Annette during her heyday. Several of Annette's songs were played and Annette spoke of the various periods in her life. 

She died of cancer in 1985 at New York Hospital after a long illness; she was living in Manhattan at that time. B.(Info mainly Wikipedia)