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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Billy Eckstine born 8 July 1914


William Clarence Eckstine (July 8, 1914 – March 8, 1993) was an American jazz and pop singer, and a bandleader of the swing era. He was noted for his rich, resonant, almost operatic bass-baritone voice. The New York Times described him as an "influential band leader" whose "suave bass-baritone" and "full-throated, sugary approach to popular songs inspired singers like Joe Williams, Arthur Prysock and Lou Rawls." 

Born in Pittsburgh but raised in Washington, D.C., Eckstine began singing at the age of seven and entered many amateur talent shows. He had also planned on a football career, though after breaking his collar bone, he made music his focus. After working his way west to Chicago during the late '30s, Eckstine was hired by Earl Hines to join his Grand Terrace Orchestra in 1939. Though white bands of the era featured males singing straight-ahead romantic ballads, black bands were forced to stick to novelty or blues vocal numbers until the advent of Eckstine and Herb Jeffries (from Duke Ellington's Orchestra).  

Though several of Eckstine's first hits with Hines were novelties like "Jelly, Jelly" and "The Jitney Man," he also recorded several straight-ahead songs, including the hit "Stormy Monday." By 1943, he gained a trio of stellar band mates -- Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan. After forming his own big band that year, he hired all three and gradually recruited still more modernist figures and future stars: Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, and Art Blakey, as well as arrangers Tadd Dameron and Gil Fuller. 

The Billy Eckstine Orchestra was the first bop big-band group, and its leader reflected bop innovations by stretching his vocal harmonics into his normal ballads. Despite the group's modernist slant, Eckstine hit the charts often during the mid-'40s, with Top Ten entries including "A Cottage for Sale" and "Prisoner of Love." On the group's frequent European and American tours, Eckstine also played trumpet, valve trombone, and guitar. 

Though he was forced to give up the band in 1947 (Gillespie formed his own bop big band that same year), Eckstine made the transition to string-filled balladry with ease. He recorded more than a dozen hits during the late '40s, including "My Foolish Heart" and "I Apologize." He was also quite popular in Britain, hitting the Top Ten there twice during the '50s -- "No One But You" and "Gigi" -- as well as several duet entries with Sarah Vaughan. 
 
 
                             

Culturally Eckstine was a fashion icon. He was famous for his "Mr. B. Collar"- a high roll collar that formed a "B" over a Windsor-knotted tie. The collars were worn by many a hipster in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Eckstine made numerous appearances on television variety shows, including on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Nat King Cole Show, The Tonight Show with Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson, The Merv Griffin Show, The Art Linkletter Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Flip Wilson Show, and Playboy After Dark. He also performed as an actor in the TV sitcom Sanford and Son, and in such films as Skirts Ahoy, Let's Do It Again, and Jo Jo Dancer. 


Eckstine returned to his jazz roots occasionally as well, recording with Vaughan, Count Basie, and Quincy Jones for separate LPs, and the 1960 live LP No Cover, No Minimum featured him taking a few trumpet solos as well. He recorded several albums for Mercury and Roulette during the early '60s (his son Ed was the president of Mercury), and he appeared on Motown for a few standards albums during the mid-'60s. After recording very sparingly during the '70s,  

In 1984 Eckstine recorded his penultimate album, I Am a Singer, arranged and conducted by Angelo DiPippo and featuring Toots Thielemans on harmonica. In November 1986, Eckstine recorded with saxophonist Benny Carter for his 1987 album Billy Eckstine Sings with Benny Carter. Eckstine made his final recordings for Motorcity Records, a label for ex-Motown artists founded by Ian Levine. 
 
Sarah Vaughan with Billy

Eckstine suffered a stroke while performing in Salina, Kansas, in April 1992, and never performed again. Though his speech improved in the hospital, Eckstine had a heart attack, and died a few months later on March 8, 1993, aged 78. Eckstine's final word was "Basie.

(Compiled and edited from bio by John Bush @ AllMusic & Wikipedia)


2 comments:

boppinbob said...

For “Billy Eckstine - All Of My Life” go here:

https://www109.zippyshare.com/v/57t6nlnM/file.html

Disc 1

1. I APOLOGIZE
2. YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME
3. BLUE ILLUSION
4. IN THE RAIN
5. I GUESS I'LL HAVE TO DREAM THE REST
6. DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE
7. MY FOOLISH HEART
8. ALL OF MY LIFE
9. GRAPEVINE
10. UNTIL ETERNITY
11. LOST IN LOVELINESS
12. WONDER WHY
13. JOEY, JOEY, JOEY
14. PRISONER OF LOVE
15. PASS THE WORD AROUND
16. SO FAR
17. JEALOUSY
18. GIGI
19. THE CHOSEN FEW
20. BLUE CHRISTMAS
21. CHRISTMAS EVE
22. YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY
23. WHAT MORE IS THERE TO SAY?
24. BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS
25. THE TENNESSEE ROCK 'N' ROLL
26. THE SHOW MUST GO ON
27. COQUETTE
28. LOVE ME

Disc 2

1. TRUST IN ME
2. THE BITTER WITH THE SWEET
3. I'M A FOOL TO WANT YOU
4. EARLY AUTUMN
5. I LET A SONG GO OUT OF MY HEART
6. PANDORA
7. OH, MY PRETTY PRETTY
8. THE LONELY SHEPHERD
9. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON YOU
10. PRELUDE TO A KISS
11. FUNNY
12. LAURA
13. ONE SWEET KISS
14. CONDEMNED FOR LIFE
15. PEOPLE WILL SAY WE'RE IN LOVE
16. O HOLY NIGHT
17. O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
18. I’M SO CRAZY FOR LOVE
19. MY HEART SAYS NO
20. SOLITUDE
21. VERTIGO
22. THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
23. POOR LITTLE HEART
24. THAT'S FOR ME
25. TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE
26. JUST CALL ME CRAZY
27. IF I CAN HELP SOMEBODY

Billy Eckstine was one of the greatest male pop stars to emerge from the 1940's and was a star of the concert stage, radio, television, recordings, films and night clubs.

The distinguished orchestras of Nelson Riddle, Hugo Winterhalter and Pete Rugolo are featured, plus all four selections from his Duke Ellington EP and his sessions with the great George Shearing.

Many tracks are debuting on CD along with the major hits "I APOLOGISE", "MY FOOLISH HEART", "JEALOSY" and "PRISONER OF LOVE". What's more this set also encompasses numerous show tunes such as "YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME", "SO FAR" and "GIGI". (Jasmine notes)

A big thank you to Xena Dress @ ACM2 blog for original post.

heylee said...

Thank you for sharing all things, Billy Eckstine...appreciated
.