Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Mildred Bailey born 27 February 1901


Mildred Bailey (February 27, 1907 – December 12, 1951) was a popular and influential American jazz singer during the 1930s, known as "Mrs. Swing". Her number one hits were "Please Be Kind", "Darn That Dream", and "Says My Heart".

Born as Mildred Rinker in Tekoa, Washington, Bailey retained the last name of her first husband, Ted Bailey, when she moved to Seattle to bolster her singing career. With the help of her second husband, Benny Stafford, she became an established blues and jazz singer on the West Coast. According to Gary Giddins' book on Bing in 1925 Mildred secured work for her brother, Al Rinker, and his partner Bing Crosby. Giddins further states that Crosby first heard of Louis Armstrong and other Chicago black jazz records from Bailey's own record collection. 

In Summer 1929, whilst touring California, some members of the Whiteman were involved in a serious car accident in which one died and Joe Venuti was seriously injured. To cheer the band up, Mildred held a ‘home brew’ party for them and which Whiteman attended. Hearing her sing (at the behest of brother Al), the famous man was immediately struck by Mildred’s blossoming talent and invited her to a radio session two days later. The response from the public to her featured song, "Moanin’ Low", was overwhelming and she was duly signed, becoming the first featured female vocalist with a national band. 

Crosby helped Bailey in turn by introducing her to Paul Whiteman. She sang with Paul Whiteman's band from 1929 to 1933 (Whiteman had a popular radio program and when Bailey debuted with her version of "Moaning Low" in 1929, public reaction was immediate, although she did not start recording with Whiteman until late 1931). 

Her first two records were as uncredited vocalist for an Eddie Lang Orchestra session in 1929 ("What Kind O' Man Is You?", an obscure Hoagy Carmichael song that was only issued in the UK) and a 1930 recording of "I Like To Do Things For You" for Frankie Trumbauer. She was Whiteman's popular female vocalist through 1932 (recording in a smooth crooning style), when she left the band due to salary disagreements. She then recorded a series of records for Brunswick in 1933 (accompanied by The Dorsey Brothers), as well an all-star session with Benny Goodman's studio band in 1934 that featured Coleman Hawkins. 

In 1932 Bailey debuted “Ol’ Rockin’ Chair’s Got Me” on a Chicago-based live broadcast of Whiteman’s weekly Old Gold radio show, and the tune sparked a public response that was immediate and overwhelming. A studio recording of the tune became such a huge hit that Bailey was ever after known as the “Rockin’ Chair Lady.” The record also made significant jazz history as “the first recording by a 'girl singer' with a big band, an innovation that would set the pattern for the swing era.”  

In the mid 1930s, she recorded with her third husband Red Norvo. A dynamic couple, they earned the nicknames "Mr. and Mrs. Swing". During this period (1936-1939) Norvo recorded for Brunswick (with Bailey as primary vocalist) and Bailey recorded her own set of recordings for Vocalion, often with Norvo's band.
 
 
                              
 
Some of her recordings instead featured members of Count Basie's band. Despite her divorce from Norvo, she and Red would continue to record together until 1945. Suffering from diabetes and depression, she only made a few recordings following World War II. 
Jazz vocal collectors have always considered Bailey one of the best vocalists of her era (refer to many Downbeat polls and articles in Downbeat and many other jazz publications), Despite being a big woman, Bailey had a sweet, rather small yet very expressive voice, and quite a light, unique swinging vocal style (refer to many recordings). Many of her records were considered among the best versions recorded. 


Despite all of her success, superstardom eluded Bailey. She blamed her plumpness, but others claimed it was her temper and sharp tongue as well as the bitterness she carried with her towards better-looking female vocalists whom she thought less talented. She claimed her obesity was glandular, but many of her friends felt it had more to do with her great love of eating. 

Bailey continued recording until the mid-1940s, when health problems forced her to retire. Plagued by a combination of diabetes, heart trouble and hardening of the arteries, she was near death and broke until she was rescued by composer Jimmy Van Heusen, who arranged to split her medical bills with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. She recovered well-enough to begin performing again, but her health problems eventually took their toll, and she died, penniless in Poughkeepsie, on December 12, 1951, aged 44, of heart failure,  chiefly due to her diabetes. Bailey's ashes were scattered.  

Red Norvo outlived Mildred by nearly half a century, dying in April 1999, a week after his 91st birthday.    (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia, Solid & Jasmine Records)

13 comments:

boppinbob said...

For “Mildred Bailey - Squeeze Me! Big Hits from A Great Lady” go here:

http://www64.zippyshare.com/v/POfl5cL3/file.html

1. BOB WHITE
2. ROCKIN' CHAIR
3. ST. LOUIS BLUES
4. ARKANSAS BLUES
5. BARRELHOUSE MUSIC
6. 'TAIN'T WHAT YOU DO
7. 'LONG ABOUT MIDNIGHT
8. IS THAT RELIGION?
9. HOLD ON
10. JUNK MAN
11. PEACE, BROTHER!
12. OL' PAPPY
13. SQUEEZE ME
14. WEEK END OF A PRIVATE SECRETARY
15. SOMEDAY SWEETHEART
16. DON'T BE THAT WAY
17. I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU
18. THERE'LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE
19. A GHOST OF A CHANCE
20. DARN THAT DREAM
21. ALWAYS AND ALWAYS
22. I'VE GOT MY LOVE TO KEEP ME WARM
23. GULF COAST BLUES
24. ROCK IT FOR ME


This is a terrific collection of Mildred Bailey sides from her prime years, 1933-1939. It is true that some, maybe many, would argue that the years she spent with Paul Whiteman (1929-1932) were her best ones, but these were the years she actually came to national prominence. The creativity in her vocal style was fully developed in 1933 when she began to take some chances while continuing to score hits and enjoy widespread success. The list of musicians who appeared in her backing orchestras at this time included Bunny Berigan , Mary Lou Williams, Grachan Moncur II, Teddy Wilson, Chu Berry, Cozy Cole, Coleman Hawkins, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Sauter, Johnny Hodges, and many others. The material here is basically knockout. Among the 24 cuts on this single disc are blues and jazz classics such as "Rockin Chair," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "Don't Be That Way," "Junk Man," "Barrelhouse Music," "'Taint What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)," her unique reading of "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You," and a terrific version of Fats Waller's wonderful nugget "Squeeze Me." Sound quality is fine for the period. Squeeze Me is a great place to start a Mildred Bailey collection.

(AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek)

trevor said...

I believe Mildred to be the greatest "popular music " female singer of the 20th. century. I think I have all her recordings on CD. Her diction and pure , emotionally perfect, totally in-tune voice, is matchless. Just my unhumble opinion.........

RiCK SAUNDERS said...

Bless yr heart for posting this and remembering her. Ive been digging deep into the history of big band and swing and have read several books on the subject, and thanks to archive.org I was able to find a bunch of her work. I think she really brought something new and refreshing to the sound and has been sadly ignored for far too long. The fact that she was an area I knew well near where I grew up in eastern Washington state deepened my attraction. Here's an interesting story y'all might enjoy. and btw, Ditto Trevor's comment.

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=151990062

trevor said...

Thanks for your comment Rick , and I enjoyed the link. Great to find another with such impeccable taste in music!!!! On a totally different topic. For many years I have sought a copy of an English film from 1953. Titled "The Wedding Of Lili Marlene:. Nothing to do with the song by The Andrews Sisters. I wonder if by a chance in millions , you have , or know of somebody with a copy? Or have friends/acquaintances who may know something. I am prepared to pay a more than fair amount for a copy. I actually hope to find a certain song on the soundtrack.....Sadly I do not know the title.......It was probably mimed by the actress who , I THINK, "sang "it in the film. Who knows, I might get lucky. Worth a try. IF I obtain a copy , and IF it contains the song I hope/think it does, I will then have every song I have ever heard in my life that has meant anything to me. Believe me, that is many songs.....Trevor.

RiCK SAUNDERS said...

Trevor- Thank you! Same here! I never find people who like this stuff.

RE: Lili Marlene...no such luck. I did find two songs at archive.org
https://archive.org/search.php?query=The%20Wedding%20Of%20Lili%20Marlene&and[]=mediatype%3A"audio"

and when I'm looking for old hard to find movies I always look here https://free-classic-movies.com/index.php
Jimbo, who owns the site, doesnt appear to have it, but I was looking for a film for years (about Eddie Rickenbacker that I saw as a kid) and he directed me to a site where I could find it. I'd contact him. Very nice, helpful guy. Im a huge fan of big band musicals like The Glenn Miller Story. I thought there was just a few, but Jimbo's site has at least a dozen more i'd never heard of. All public domain and free to watch or download!

RiCK SAUNDERS said...

Btw, Trevor- I'm pretty sure I have these Mildred tracks but i'm grabbing them just in case. I also have the huge Complete Columbia Recordings box set, and a couple other albums, as well as a bunch of V discs that I got from archive.org. If you need anymore just let me know. I'm always happy to share!

Pudge said...

Thanks Bob. This post is better than good it's great.

trevor said...

Rick - I also decided to download this CD, although I'd be very surprised if I didn't have all the tracks.( Can't be bothered to check back to her CDs I have!!!!) I don't have that Box Set , but am sure that I checked what I have against it's track listing many years ago......Certain I have all the tracks. I actually have 17 separate CDs by her, including "Camel Caravan Broadcasts 1940 " & "CBS Radio Show October 1944". Take too long to list them all. What are the V-Discs you have? Please.

RiCK SAUNDERS said...

Trevor-

Ive never heard/heard of The Camel Caravan broadcasts! or the CBS radio show.

Here's the stuff available @ Archive.org. I think theres a couple more things available now than when I downloaded it.

https://archive.org/search.php?query=mildred+bailey&and[]=mediatype%3A"audio"&and[]=collection%3A"georgeblood"&and[]=loans__status__status%3A"NULL"&and[]=collection%3A"78rpm"&page=1

and here she is with The Delta Rhythm Boys https://archive.org/search.php?query=mildred%20bailey%20delta%20rhythm%20boys

I have more vdiscs than what is now showing at Archive.org for some reason. I just copy/pasted from my itunes to show what I have:

Mildred Bailey And the Mills Brothers - Rockin Chair 1932 The MiLLS BROTHERS 6:39 Public Domain, baby! 0 2 12/10/16, 11:49 AM
Afrs003-MildredBailey-TeddyWilson-JimmyDorsey-firstSongHoldOn10-20-44 30:24 0 11/17/16, 10:14 PM
Delta Rhythm Boys And Mildred Bailey - EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON YOU Delta Rhythm Boys 3:10 2 1 11/17/16, 6:50 PM Swing
Delta Rhythm Boys And Mildred Bailey - Georgia On My Mind 1941 Delta Rhythm Boys 3:18 2 1 11/17/16, 6:50 PM Swing
Delta Rhythm Boys And Mildred Bailey - I'm Afraid of Myself 1941 Delta Rhythm Boys 3:12 2 1 11/17/16, 6:50 PM Swing
Delta Rhythm Boys And Mildred Bailey - IT'S SO PEACEFUL IN THE COUNTRY Delta Rhythm Boys 3:10 2 1 11/17/16, 6:50 PM Swing
Delta Rhythm Boys And MILDRED BAILEY - Rockin' Chair 1941 Delta Rhythm Boys 2:36 2 2 11/17/16, 6:50 PM Swing
Mildred Bailey, with Ellis Larkin Trio - Lover Come Back To Me 1947-09-xx 801 V-Disc B 2:13 V-Disc 0 4 11/11/16, 9:58 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey, Vernon Duke at Piano - The Love I Long For 1949-01-xx 879 V-Disc B 1:50 V-Disc 0 1 11/11/16, 9:58 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey, with Paul Baron and his Orchestra - Honeysuckle Rose 1946-12-xx 715 V-Disc A 2:08 V-Disc 0 1 11/11/16, 9:29 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey, with Paul Baron and his Orchestra - Wish You Were Waitin' For Me 1946-12-xx 715 V-Disc A 3:41 V-Disc 0 1 11/11/16, 9:29 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey, with Paul Baron and his Orchestra - Rockin' Chair 1946-07-xx 656 V-Disc B 2:18 0 1 11/10/16, 1:19 PM
Mildred Bailey - Squeeze Me 1946-07-xx 665 V-Disc A 2:46 0 1 11/10/16, 1:19 PM
Benny Goodman and his V-DISC All-Stars, vocal by Mildred Bailey - These Foolish Things 1944-11-xx 302 V-Disc A 2:48 0 1 11/9/16, 2:08 PM
Mildred Bailey, Paul Baron and his Orchestra - Hold On Keep Your Hand On The Plow 1944-12-xx 328 V-Disc A 3:12 V-Disc 0 1 11/9/16, 2:08 PM
Mildred Bailey - Right As Rain 1945-03-xx 387 V-Disc A 3:35 0 1 11/9/16, 2:08 PM
Mildred Bailey with Red Norvo and his Orchestra - Downhearted Blues 1945-10-xx 524 V-Disc A 5:10 V-Disc 0 11/7/16, 8:26 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Teddy Wilson at the Piano - Rockin' Chair 1944-01-xx 105 V-Disc A 4:52 V-Disc 0 11/6/16, 1:55 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Teddy Wilson at the Piano - Sunday, Monday Or Always? 1944-01-xx 105 V-Disc B 3:46 V-Disc 0 11/6/16, 1:55 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Teddy Wilson - Scrap Your Fat 1944-02-xx 135 V-Disc B 4:28 V-Disc 0 11/6/16, 1:55 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Teddy Wilson - More Than You Know 1944-06-xx 202 V-Disc A 3:15 0 11/6/16, 1:47 AM OTR
Mildred Bailey - From the Land of Sky Blue Water 1945-04-xx 414 V-Disc B 2:34 V-Disc 0 11/5/16, 4:46 PM OTR
Mildred Bailey - Summertime 1945-04-xx 414 V-Disc B 2:59 V-Disc 0 11/5/16, 4:46 PM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Paul Baron and his Orchestra - Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child 1945-05-xx 434 V-Disc A 3:36 V-Disc 0 11/5/16, 4:46 PM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Paul Baron and his Orchestra - Which Of The Great 48 Are You From? 1945-06-xx 444 V-Disc A 3:25 V-Disc 0 11/5/16, 4:46 PM OTR
Mildred Bailey with Benny Goodman and his V-Disc All-Stars - There'll Be A Jubliee 1945-08-xx 494 V-DIsc B 3:14 V-Disc 0 11/5/16, 4:46 PM OTR

boppinbob said...

Thanks for the extra info guys. Much appreciated.

trevor said...

RICK - Firstly , thanks to you , I am expecting that film I have long sought by post from England. Secondly , can you somehow contact me , or let me have your email address?
Trevor.

RiCK SAUNDERS said...

Yay! Thats fantastic, Trevor!

My email is ricksaunders at gmail dot com

RiCK SAUNDERS said...

Cheers, Boppinbob! Thank you!