Dick Henry Jurgens (January 9, 1910 – October 5, 1995) was an American swing music bandleader and composer who enjoyed great popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
The son of Dietrich Heinrich Jurgens and the former Clara Matilda Erath, Jurgens showed an early interest in music, studying with Henry E. Marvin, Robert Fenton, and Harry Wills. He was dismissed from his high school orchestra for playing popular music and jazz, but that only encouraged him to organize his own dance orchestra, which he first did in 1928 while still in high school. (He always worked closely with his brother, Will Jurgens, who eventually became his personal manager.)
In 1933, he graduated from Sacramento Junior College (he also attended the University of California at Berkeley) and immediately turned to bandleading full-time, earning his first important engagement at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. He was signed to newly formed Decca Records and had his first recording session on October 22, 1934. Singer Eddy Howard, who would be an important part of Jurgens' band during his 1934-40 tenure with it, first recorded with him on the 1935 Decca single "The Martinique."
From the mid-'30s to the early '40s Jurgens held residencies at the Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island, the Elitch Gardens in Denver, the Aragon Ballroom and the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago, and other popular swing venues. He recorded for Vocalion Records in 1938 and for Okeh Records starting in 1940. His first side to reach Your Hit Parade was "It's a Hundred to One You're in Love with Me" in 1939; the following year, "In an Old Dutch Garden" proved to be a big hit. Jurgens often found that Glenn Miller's versions of his hits performed better on the charts than his own, such as the song "Careless".
Following Howard's departure from the group in 1940, Harry Cool became its lead singer. Jurgens scored more hits later that year, with "A Million Dreams Ago" and the instrumental "Elmer's Tune", the latter of which Miller would take a vocal version to number one. Later hits included "The Bells of San Raquel" and "Happy in Love" (released on Columbia Records). His biggest hit was 1942's "One Dozen Roses", with Buddy Moreno on vocals; the song hit #1 in the summer of that year and was also recorded or performed by Harry James, Glen Gray, Glenn Miller, and Dinah Shore.
Arguably, Jurgens was at the peak of his career in mid-1942. Just then, the recording ban by the American Federation of Musicians prevented him from making further recordings, and at the same time, he disbanded and joined the U.S. Marine Corps to participate in World War II. He remained with the service through the end of the war in 1945, serving as musical director for Marine shows.
He reorganized his band in 1946 and went back to work, albeit in a musical climate that was less conducive to his kind of musical approach. Nevertheless, he continued recording for Columbia through the early 1950s, later switching to Mercury. From July to September 1948, he had a half-hour weekly radio berth on CBS, the Summer Spotlight Revue. He married Miriam Davidson on December 6, 1948.
Dick Jurgens wrote or co-wrote the following songs: "Elmer's Tune", "Careless", "I Won't Be Home Anymore When You Call", "One Dozen Roses", "It's a Hundred To One (I'm in Love)", "I Guess I'll Be On My Way", "If I Knew Then (What I Know Now)", and "Day Dreams Come True At Night".
As the popularity of swing diminished, he continued leading his band until 1956, when he gave it up and started an electronics business in Colorado Springs, CO with his brother, though he continued to perform occasionally at the local Broadmoor Country Club. In 1965, he relocated to California and began to make occasional appearances. By the late '60s he had reformed his band, and he played with it part-time until 1976, even making some new recordings in the early '70s. Then he left the music business again, returning home to Sacramento, where he got into real estate.
Singer Don Ring bought the rights to the band’s name and library in 1986, and the New Dick Jurgens Orchestra has a permanent residency at Ring’s Park Ponderosa Ballroom in McFarland, Wisconsin.
Jurgens died in 1995 of cancer at age 85. (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)