Friday, 31 May 2019

Gayle Shepherd born 31 May 1936

Gayle Shepherd (born Joyce Gayle Shepherd, May 31, 1936 – May 7, 2018) was a singer and member of the vocal quartet the Shepherd Sisters, best known for the 1957 hit “Alone (Why Must I Be Alone),”

The Shepherd Sisters (also known as The Sheps) were an American vocal quartet of four sisters born and raised in Middletown, Ohio to Douglas and Pearl Shepherd. Their father was a steelworker, her mother a homemaker.

The sisters were born into a family of eight children, six sisters and two brothers, with Judith being the youngest. Gayle Shepherd, the second youngest of eight siblings, grew up singing in church in Middletown, Ohio. She graduated from Middletown High School before her singing career took off. Gayle and two sisters, Martha and Mary Lou, performed locally as the Shepherd Sisters beginning when they were teenagers, with Gayle often singing lead.

They had a harmonious style that was typical of the popular girl groups from the 50s and 60s. Their group broke through in the mid-fifties and performed during the variety show 'Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts', which juxtaposes young musicians to see. Their first regional hit, in 1956, was a version of the song "Gone With the Wind" from 1937 (not related to the movie or novel with the same title). The song caught the attention of Dick Clark, and the sisters kept appearing repeatedly on his television program "American Bandstand".


They added a fourth sister, Judith, to the group in 1957 In New York City, Morty Craft had a song he wanted them to record, "Alone (Why Must I Be Alone)". "Alone" would become their biggest hit and their signature song. In the U.S. it reached No.18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; in the UK Singles Chart it made No.14. Its chart progress may have been hindered by several rival cover versions on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The song was later recorded by the Four Seasons and Petula Clark. In all the Shepherd Sisters recorded over thirty songs, many of them on one of Morty Craft's record labels such as Melba and

The Shepherd Sisters played on Alan Freed's "America's Greatest Teenage Recording Stars" concert tour, along with rock and roll artists such as Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers. They recorded more than 20 singles, including "Congratulations to someone" and "Don't Mention My Name. Besides rock and roll the Shepherd Sisters were also a stage and cabaret act. They performed at hotels, nightclubs, New York's Apollo Theater, and casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada. They also sang in the Philippines, Canada, South America, and parts of Europe

The Shepherd Sisters stopped performing and recording in the mid-1960s after they decided to settle down. Gayle married the record producer Jimmy Miller, best known for his work with the Rolling Stones, in the early 1960s. That marriage ended in divorce. About a decade later she married Martin Vale, from whom she later separated.  MaryLou, Gayle and Judith performed until 1965. They returned to record three songs with Charles Strouse in 1976.

Gayle is survived by her sister Mary Lou Brooks. Her sister Martha died in 1992, her sister Judith in 2009.  Gayle Shepherd died from dementia on 7th May  2018  at a care facility in Allentown, Pa. She was 81.

(Edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia & NY Times)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Little Jack Little born 30 May 1899

Jack Little (born John Leonard; May 30, 1899* – April 9, 1956), sometimes credited Little Jack Little, was a British-born American composer, singer, pianist, actor, and songwriter whose songs were featured in several movies. He is not to be confused with the burlesque comedian also known as "Little" Jack Little, who stood 4'5".

Little was born in London, but moved to the United States when he was 9 years old, growing up in Waterloo, Iowa. He was educated in pre-med classes at the University of Iowa, where he played in and organized the university band. Early in his career, Little worked at radio stations, including WSAI and WLW, both in Cincinnati, Ohio. He had a 15-minute daily program (originating from WLW) on NBC radio in the early 1930s.

Little toured the country with an orchestra, appearing in hotels, night clubs, and on radio. In one such touring appearance on radio, at WOC in Davenport, Iowa, Little "made a new endurance record for himself ... when he remained on the air three hours and sixteen minutes ... [and] sang fifty-one songs in answer to thousands of requests." He collaborated musically with Tommie Malie, Dick Finch, John Siras, and Joe Young.

In 1928 he joined ASCAP. From 1933–37, he recorded prolifically, starting on Bluebird, Columbia, and finally ARC, playing in a light society dance band style. His compositions include Jealous, I Promise You, A Shanty in Old Shanty Town and You're a Heavenly Thing. He racked up 14 hit singles for Columbia/Vocalion including the late summer 1935 # 1 I'm In The Mood For Love.


Little  was a master of a singing-talking technique that was popular in the 1930s, and he was successful until his violinist, Mitchell Ayres (aka Mitchell Agress), bolted from the orchestra with some of its other best members and formed their own band. 
Little later led a bolero rhythm orchestra -- he is best remembered by Honeymooners fans for his mention, alongside Basil Fomeen and Ted Fiorito, by Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden in the episode "Young at Heart," as he recalls the bands that used to play at the Sons of Italy Hall in Brooklyn.

During World War II, he and stage and screen star Ray Bolger entertained for the USO at camps and posts in the Pacific war zone. In later years, Little often performed at theatres (in an attempt to revive vaudeville), and he made many guest appearances on television.

He was married to Thea Hellman, who died in 1948; they had two children. Being a widower and in the mid-1950s under treatment for hepatitis, he had been in what police called a "hideously depressed" state.  
One morning on April 9, 1956, Little was found dead in bed by a maid at his home in Hollywood, Florida. An autopsy revealed that traces of drugs believed to be chloral hydrate or barbiturates were found in the stomach.  

He reportedly left a dozen farewell notes to various people.  In one, he wrote, "I know I'm dying and I'm afraid of the suffering I'll have to go through."  In another, addressed to "All My Friends," he said "Thanks for all the wonderful friendships and good times together.  A little advice-take it easy, you'll last longer.  Always, Jack."

Little has a star at 6618 Hollywood Boulevard in the Radio section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated February 8, 1960.

The fact that Little Jack Little remains so unknown and underappreciated today is rather shocking and definitely unfair. Hopefully, some reissue label will soon decide to right that wrong and make his vintage recordings available again.

(Edited from Wikipedia, Big Band and the Vintage Bandstand blog)

In this short subject Jack Little plays three of his compositions, including At the Baby Parade (piano only). He is further entertained by Gypsy Nina and the Do-Re-Mi Trio, who sing "My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii."

Monday, 27 May 2019

Don Williams born 27 May 1939

Donald Ray Williams (May 27, 1939 – September 8, 2017) was an American country singer, songwriter, and 2010 inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He began his solo career in 1971, singing popular ballads and amassing 17 number one country hits. His straightforward yet smooth bass-baritone voice, soft tones, and imposing build earned him the nickname: "Gentle Giant" of country music.

Williams was born the youngest of three sons on May 27, 1939, in Floydada, Texas. His parents were Loveta Mae (née Lambert; 1914 – 2007) and James Andrew "Jim" Williams (1898 – 1982). He grew up in Portland, Texas and graduated from Gregory-Portland High School in 1958. After Williams' parents divorced, Loveta Williams remarried first to Chester Lang, and then to Robert Bevers.

Prior to forming the folk-pop group Pozo-Seco Singers, Williams served with The United States Army Security Agency for two years then, after his honourable discharge, worked various odd jobs in order to support himself and his family. It was with the group the Pozo-Seco Singers that Williams, alongside Susan Taylor and Lofton Cline, recorded several records for Columbia Records. He remained with the group until 1969; it disbanded the following year.

After the Pozo-Seco Singers disbanded, Williams briefly worked outside the music industry. Soon, however, Williams resumed his career in music. In December 1971, Williams signed on as a songwriter for Jack Clement with Jack Music Inc. In 1972, Williams inked a contract with JMI Records as a solo country artist. His 1974 song, "We Should Be Together," reached number five, and he signed with ABC/Dot Records. At the height of the country and western boom in the UK in 1976, he had top forty pop chart hits with "You're My Best Friend" and "I Recall a Gypsy Woman".


His first single with ABC/Dot, "I Wouldn't Want to Live If You Didn't Love Me," became a number one hit, and was the first of a string of top ten hits he had between 1974 and 1991. Only four of his 46 singles didn't make it to the Top Ten. "I Believe in You", 

written by Roger Cook and Sam Hogin, was Williams' eleventh #1 on the country chart. 

It was his only Top 40 chart entry in the U.S., where it peaked at #24. It was also hit in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Williams had some minor roles in Burt Reynolds movies. In 1975, Don appeared as a member of the Dixie Dancekings band in the movie W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings alongside Reynolds. Don also appeared as himself in the Universal Pictures movie, Smokey and the Bandit II, in which he also played a number of songs.

Early in 2006, Williams announced his "Farewell Tour of the World" and played numerous dates both in the U.S. and abroad, wrapping the tour up with a sold-out "Final Farewell Concert" in Memphis, Tennessee at the Cannon Center for Performing Arts on November 21, 2006. In 2010, Williams came out of retirement and was once again touring.

In March 2012, Williams announced the release of a new record And So It Goes (UK release April 30, 2012; U.S./Worldwide release June 19, 2012), his first new record since 2004. The record is his first with the independent Americana label Sugar Hill Records. The record includes guest appearances by Alison Krauss, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill. To accompany his latest album release he embarked on a UK Tour. A much loved country artist among British fans, he had his final UK tour in 2014.

In March 2016, Williams announced he was retiring from touring and cancelled all his scheduled shows. "It's time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home. I'm so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support," he said in a statement.

On September 8, 2017, Williams died in Mobile, Alabama due to emphysema.

(Edited from Wikipedia)

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Ziggy Elman born 26 May 1914

Harry Aaron Finkelman (May 26, 1914 – June 26, 1968), better known by the stage name Ziggy Elman, was an American jazz trumpeter most associated with Benny Goodman, though he also led his own Ziggy Elman and His Orchestra.

He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but his family settled in Atlantic City when he was four. His father was a violinist who had hoped Harry would play violin as well. Although he did learn to play the violin, Harry preferred the brass instruments. He began playing for Jewish weddings and nightclubs at age 15, and in 1932 made his first recording where he played trombone. At some point in the decade he adopted the name Ziggy Elman. Elman is a shortening of Finkelman while "Ziggy" is believed to be a reference to Florenz Ziegfeld.

Benny Goodman heard him in 1936 on trumpet and hired him for his band. Along with Harry James and Chris Griffin, Ziggy became a member of one of the greatest trumpet sections of the era. All three men shared the lead work. Ziggy also had the Jewish Klezmer influence in his playing whether sweet or hot which made his trumpet sound unique.


His 1939 composition "And the Angels Sing," with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, (originally recorded in December 1938 by his own band as an instrumental, "Frailach In Swing") became the number one song in the nation. 
In 1956 he was asked to recreate his famous frailach solo along with the original vocalist Martha Tilton for the movie, The Benny Goodman Story, but due to poor health was unable to, also his technique having since withered away. Elman appeared performing it in the film, but another trumpeter, Manny Klein, played the solo on the soundtrack. This song is arguably his longest-lasting musical legacy, since it has appeared in films up to 1997 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987.

Chris Griffin, Ziggy Elman, Harry James, Benny Goodman
In an interview published in the February 25, 1939, edition of Collier's, Goodman recalled "Back in 1934 while we were playing for a convention hall in Kansas City, Ziggy Elman reached for his trumpet, turned it toward heaven and swung into a head arrangement for a chorus of 'Whispering.' A head arrangement, should you be interested, means merely that Ziggy took the deathless, if played-to-death, melody of 'Whispering' and embroidered it with a fanciful filigree of musical decoration, every note of which came into his head the instant before he blew it. Thus, by gifted improvisation, Ziggy put life and head into the song, gave it wings. In musical slang, he put rock into it."

Connie Haines, Ziggy Elman, Buddy Rich and Tommy Dorsey
After his work with Goodman, Elman moved over to Tommy Dorsey's band in 1940 and became one of his star soloists with standout solos on sides such as Swanee River, Blue Blazes, Hawaiian War Chant, Halleleujah, Blue Skies and the classic trumpet battle with Chuck Peterson on We'll Git It. He graced many other free lance sessions including Teddy Wilson,The Metronome All-Stars, Mildred Bailey and Lionel Hampton.

In 1943 he was called up for service duty and he played with an Army Air Corps Band in the Long Beach,California area. Ziggy rejoined Dorsey in 1946 and stayed for a year. He tried two attempts at his own band in '47 and '48 and made some wonderful sides for M-G-M. (some utilized the Dorsey band with Tommy's permission). Ziggy's post 1947 period was mostly as a studio musician on radio and recordings. He also recorded with Jewish clarinetist and humorist, Mickey Katz. In the period from 1940 to 1947 he was honoured in DownBeat Magazine Readers Poll six times. He led his own bands starting in 1947.

By the 1950s big bands had declined and for a time he switched to entertainment work. In this decade he appeared in films mostly as himself. He contributed awesome solos to Jess Stacy's Goodman salute on Atlantic in 1954. Some reports had his lips bleeding at the session's end, as he worked so hard.

In 1956 he had a heart attack, curtailing his music career. By the end of the 1950s he was financially ruined and had to work for a car dealership. In 1961 it was revealed at an alimony hearing that he was virtually bankrupt. He later worked in a music store and taught trumpet to some up-and-coming musicians (one of his students was Herb Alpert) and surfaced occasionally to play on various studio sessions. 

Benny & Ziggy 1968

Interestingly, Elman was reunited with Goodman at a dinner party celebrating the 30th anniversary of the famous Carnegie Hall concert in 1968. Eventually alchololism and heart problems took their toll and six months later, Ziggy died at the age of 54. He was buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia and All Music)

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Helen Carroll born 23 May 1914

Helen Carroll was the stage name of Helen Kress (né Fulk) (May 23, 1914, Bloomington, Indiana – February 21, 2011, Rye, New Hampshire.)

She began her singing career as a teenager on radio in Memphis, Tennessee. Carroll returned to Indiana and enrolled at the Indiana University for college, but left school in her senior year to pursue a career in broadcasting. She settled in New York with hopes of working on Broadway, but found little work until she auditioned for a group called the Merry Macs.

With the Merry Macs, she appeared on Fred Allen's show and in the movie Love Thy Neighbour. Carroll left the group when it relocated to California; she signed on with The Satisfiers only after the group promised to remain in New York. Carroll was married to guitarist Carl Kress; the couple had a son, Rick, who became a drummer, and went on to become a professor of harmony at Berklee College of Music.


Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers were regulars on Perry Como's Chesterfield Supper Club which ran from 1944 to 1949. (One of Chesterfield's long-term advertising taglines was "They Satisfy", and the Satisfiers were named on this basis.) 
With or without Carroll, the Satisfiers also backed Como on some recordings. Most of the group's recording on their own were made with trumpeter Russ Case's orchestra for instrumental accompaniment.

Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers' recording of "Old Buttermilk Sky" reached #7 on the Billboard top-selling retail records chart for November 23, 1946  (there was no unified Billboard Hot 100 chart yet, but the retail sales chart is sometimes (although not always) considered the nearest approximation). Billboard described the record as exhibiting "easy flowing melodies and rhythms" which "fall easy on the ears" making for a "bright and breezy" performance. This recording also appeared on Billboard's chart of songs most played on jukeboxes.

Helen Carroll and the Satisfiers performed the theme song for the Little Lulu theatrical animated short subjects. The song was written by Buddy Kaye, Fred Wise, and Sidney Lippman for the series, of which 26 episodes were produced by Famous Studios for Paramount Pictures between 1943 and 1948.

Carroll left the Satisfiers after the Chesterfield Show ended. She stayed in New York looking for work. Eventually with an ad-hoc group called the Swantones she backed Frank Sinatra on one 1950 single, "Life is So Peculiar".

The Satisfiers continued into the 50’s with DeLoris Randall (alto/soprano), who joined in 1953, Bob Lange (tenor), Art Lambert (baritone) and Loren Welch (baritone).

After retiring from music she had a second career in hospital admitting. She and her husband Karl Kress resided in Manhasset, Long Island. Helen died February 21, 2011, Rye, New Hampshire.

(Edited mainly from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Betty Glamann born 21 May 1923

Betty Glamann Voorhees (May 21, 1923 – September 3, 1990) was an American jazz and classical harpist who was born in Wellington, Kansas and began learning harp at the age of ten.

When Betty Glamann was only 13 years old, she was first harpist for a symphony orchestra broadcasting twice weekly on NBC. Her accomplishment of the next few years, were enough to fill out an illustrious career for most musicians. But for Miss Glamann they were merely prelude to the crowning glory, her emergence as one of the world's greatest harpists in the idiom of swing.

Smith - Glamann Quintet
After taking her degree in music at Goucher College and the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland – where she learned to speak Portuguese along with the more conventional French and Spanish – Miss Glamann won a place as harpist with the Baltimore Symphony. She stayed for three years, then gracefully executed a violent switch. From the symphony, she joined Spike Jones and His Orchestra. As a foundation for his element of zaniness, Spike sets rigorous standards of musicianship which only the top layer of professionals have been able to meet.

                     Here's "Bettys Blues" from above album.


Then in another quick reverse, Miss Glamann swung from the delirious plane of Spike Jones to a call from the great lady of theater, Katherine Cornell, to play harp in the Broadway production of Antony and Cleopatra. She followed this with a contract as solo harpist for Jacobowsky and the Colonel starring Tallulah Bankhead.

Meanwhile, Miss Glamann's ear
had begun to bend to jazz, and in her off-hours with other musicians, she applied the idiom to her instrument which previously had been restricted to more angelic sounds. Word began to get around the field about Betty's swinging harp. The late Fred Allen heard one of her remarkable sessions and opened a guest spot for her on a TV show. Garry Moore then did the same and then Steven Allen, always on the search for fresh jazz talent, spotlighted her.

In some of these off-hour sessions with musicians, Miss Glamann began to develop some ideas with Rufus Smith, the respected arranger and jazz bassist, about a quintet build around new sounds of the harp. The group was a sock success on Arthur Godfrey's TV shows. Then in 1955, after the incomparable Duke Ellington heard her, he added a place for the harp in his orchestra for the first time in his 30-year career and appointed Betty Glamann to the enviable place in his orchestra as did Marian McPartland and then Oscar Pettiford in whose band we hear her in 1957 radio broadcasts and his 1958 album “In Hi-Fi Volume Two.”

She recorded on the Kenny Dorham album Jazz Contrasts in 1957 and was involved in a Michel Legrand recording session with John Coltrane and Miles Davis. She played with Eddie Costa in 1958 and with the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1960. She recorded two albums under her own name: "Poinciana" (with her Smith-Glamann Quintet ) and "Swinging on a Harp" (with the cooperation of Rufus Smith, among others). She was also in the Steve Allen Show TV orchestra.

I cannot find any information about her latter years except that in 1972  Betty played harp on the Johnny Lytle album “People & Love.” And that dear music lovers is where her trail goes cold until the announcement of her death in Stamford, Connecticut, 1990. 

(A big thank you to Mark Betcher @ Unearthed In The Atomic Attic for most of the information. Remainder mainly from Wikipedia.)

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Georgie Auld born 19 May 1919

Georgie Auld (May 19, 1919 – January 8, 1990) was a jazz tenor saxophonist, clarinetist, and bandleader. His saxophone shows up on some of the greatest sides of the Big Band Era. Be it small group settings or in the backdrop of a big band, Auld could adapt his expressive style to a wide variety of moods and contexts.

Auld was born John Altwerger in Toronto, Canada, and moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1929. Before the family left Canada, Auld's parents gave him a saxophone, which he taught himself to play and began to entertain guests in the family saloon.

When only 7 years old he was receiving several dollars a week in tips and became convinced that he could earn a living as a musician. Altwerger--who later changed his name to Auld for stage purposes--formed a band in New York when he was 13. Began playing alto clarinet in 1930 and won a Rudy Wiedoft scholarship in 1931. From alto sax he switched to tenor sax in 1935 after hearing a Coleman Hawkins recording.

He became a member of Bunny Berigan's orchestra in 1937 and remained with Berigan until early December of 1938. Later that same month Auld joined Artie Shaw's orchestra and began a grueling schedule of record dates and engagements at the most popular hotels and ballrooms in the country. This band was at the top of its game, broadcasting often from the Cafe' Rouge of the Hotel Pennsylvania and The Blue Room of the Hotel Lincoln in New York as well as the Summer Terrace Room of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston. It was also heard regularly on the Old Gold "Melody And Madness" radio show. Auld eventually led the band for nearly three months after the moody Artie Shaw took one of his sojourns away from the music business. In January of 1940 the song Juke Box Jump was recorded by the former Artie Shaw
band now under the leadership of Auld.

Georgie Auld was with Jan Savitt briefly in 1940. What grabbed the attention of jazz buffs that same year was his participation on several sessions with a cast of all-stars who backed Billie Holiday in September and October. In November he joined Benny Goodman's aggregation remaining with him for about a year. Goodman immediately used Auld as part of the Benny Goodman Sextet as on November 7th the group waxed the tune Wholly Cats. Along with Charlie Christian, Cootie Williams, and on occasion Count Basie on piano, this group created some of the most brilliant and exciting small group jazz sides to come out of the big band era. After departing Goodman, Auld joined yet another band led by Artie Shaw from 1941 to 1942. After a stint in the Army in '43, he formed his own big band leading it from 1944-6.


This Georgie Auld Orchestra recorded some interesting sides that at times used elements of bebop but for the most part still retained a melodic flowing rhythm. In 1946 doctors discovered that Auld had tuberculosis. He was only semi active for a few years, until his 
health recovered, but in 1948 formed a 10-piece band, his style having changed to that of the more modern bebop style players. Later that year, he disbanded and opened his own club in New York called The Troubadour on 52nd Street and appeared in the Broadway show The Rat Race. In 1950 he briefly worked with Count Basie's sextet.

In 1951 Auld moved back to California because of health issues and while living in Hollywood in 1954 opened another night club called the Melody Room. In 1955 and '56 he once again had his own big band, this a 20-piece group that featured Jimmie Lunceford style arrangements written
by Billy May. In 1958 he returned to New York City to do studio work and record, making numerous appearances on Art Ford’s TV “Jazz Party”. Auld also played some rock´n roll working for Alan Freed in 1959.

In 1967 he became music director for Tony Martin, freelanced as a studio musician and toured frequently in Japan and Europe. By 1975 had recorded nearly 20 albums. He can be heard playing sax on the 1968 Ella Fitzgerald album 30 by Ella. In 1977 he played a bandleader in the motion picture New York, New York, starring Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro and also acted as a technical consultant for the film.

He last appeared in Los Angeles in April, 1989, at the Grand Avenue Bar of the Biltmore Hotel where Times jazz critic Leonard Feather found "renewed evidence of a sound and style that have defied the inroads of time." Auld died on January 8, 1990, in Palm Springs, California, aged 70.

(Edited from various sources mainly SwingMusic net.)

Here's Georgie Auld on tenor sax with Les Brown and his Band of Renown at the "1983 Aurex Jazz Festival"