View Full Version : Off Topic. HTOTW#10, Bing Crosby, Road to Hollywood

Terry Porritt
27-02-2004, 08:26 PM
This week in Hot Tunes of the Week we are going to talk about the early days of that great singer, entertainer and film star Bing Crosby as he takes his first steps to fame on the 'Road to Hollywood', and listen to some great tunes with vocals from the film "The King of Jazz".

Real Audio Player or an equivalent is required for these streaming audio links.

Bing really got his start with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, in his own words..."It was in the winter of 1926 that somebody brought us to the attention of Paul Whiteman, who was just the biggest name in musical entertainment at that time. Whiteman hired us, our act became popular and Whiteman kept us on. Not long after we joined the band, we did our first record date with Whiteman. We did 'Wistful and Blue', it became a kind of classic. Matty Malneck did a great arrangement. It was Matty who later brought in Harry Barris and made our duo into a trio, 'The Rhythm Boys'. We had great terrific numbers such as 'Mississippi Mud' and 'From Monday On'".

On the Paul Whiteman payroll, Bing's salary is listed as $150 a week, quite a good wage for a twentyfive year old in those days.

In 1929, Whiteman signed with Universal Studios to make a feature film called "The King of Jazz". When the band arrived in Hollywood from New York after an extended journey playing concerts and radio shows on the way, it was discovered there was was no story and no script for the film. The orchestra was kept on full pay by the studio for about 3 months, during which time Bix Beiderbecke suffered again from drink problems.
Whiteman took the orchestra back to New York whilst Universal struggled with a script. Bix more or less by then had reached the end of his Whiteman days.

So by the time filming eventually started, Bix was incapacitated, and didnt appear in the film. Bing himself was thrown into jail for drunk driving, and was escorted by a prison officer each day to the studio for filming and back to jail each night!

Let's hear (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/Whiteman/br/pwbingpost1953.ram) Paul Whiteman himself in 1955 talk about "The King of Jazz" and that young rascal Bing Crosby.

The film was completed and released in 1930. I saw a re-run of it about 30 years ago, a very poor quality scratched film with poor sound. It was a very scrappy film with no story line, obviously Universal couldn't get to grips with making this sort of musical, unlike their later 1937 Dianna Durbin/ Leopold Stokowski film "One Hundred Men and a Girl".
It is a series of unconnected vignettes, each one centered around a tune, and interspersed with animated cartoon figures, like Felix the Cat.

The tunes from the film sound track are nowhere near as good as those same ones recorded separately on 78s.

This was Bings first introduction to the screen and Hollywood.

First up we will however take one tune from the sound track, 'So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together', with the Rythm Boys hamming it up. Click here (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/Whiteman/br/blublkkj.ram).

Here is another catchy tune from the film called 'I like to do Things for You', this is from a 78 recorded a bit later, with vocals by Bing and the Rhythm Boys,listen (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/Whiteman/dothings.ram)
Now if you think you can hear Bix on this side, it is actually Andy Secrest playing a Bixian solo.

Now a stirring song called 'Song of the Dawn' (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/Whiteman/sngdawn2.ram) with Bing and massed voices.

The final tune from "The King of Jazz" is another of my favourites, with a Bix sound alike solo from Andy Secrest 1m 45sec into the tune, 'Happy Feet' (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/Whiteman/hapyfeet.ram).

Before I had access to Bix/Whiteman discographies, I used to think it was Bix playing on this side. It's pretty good.

After the film was made, Whiteman fired The Rythm Boys because of their wild drunken ways :)

In 1931 Bing recorded his first big solo hit with the Gus Arnheim Cocoanut Grove Orchestra in Los Angeles, 'I Surrender Dear' (http://www.redhotjazz.com/Songs/Whiteman/br/isurrenderdear.ram), and after the Rhythm Boys split up, Bing went on to be one of the biggest stars of the 20th century.

Some of his early films after "The King of Jazz" include "The Big Broadcast" in 1932, "Anything Goes" in 1936 with Ethel Merman and "Pennies From Heaven" with Louis Armstrong.

In 1940 he teamed up with Bob Hope in an immortal partnership to make the first of the 'Road' films, "The Road to Singapore", followed by "The Road to Morocco", the rest as they say is history.

He died of a heart attack whilst playing golf in 1977, he had appeared in more than 100 films, and had sold more than 60 million records.

Babe Ruth
28-02-2004, 12:37 PM

Well well well ... I also thought that Bix Beiderbecke played on that "Happy Feet" tune from "The King of Jazz" .

hey thanks for the tunes... look forward to each new htotw.

Cheers, Babe.

Terry Porritt
28-02-2004, 01:32 PM
Glad you enjoyed those Babe.

According to Mosaic records the personnel on the Happy Feet record was this:

PAUL WHITEMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Charlie Margulis, Harry Goldfield, Andy Secrest (tp), Boyce Cullen, Bill Rank, Wilbur Hall, Jack Fulton (tb), Chet Hazlett, Frank Trumbauer, Irving Friedman, Bernard Daly, Roy Mayer, Charles Strickfaden (reeds), Kurt Dieterle, Mischa Russell, Matty Malneck, Otto Landau, John Bowman, Joe Venuti (vln), Roy Bargy (p), Lennie Hayton (p, arr), Eddie Lang (g), Mike Pingatore (bjo), Mike Trafficante (b), Min Leibrook (tu), George Marsh (d, harpophone), Bing Crosby (vcl), Ferde Grofe, William Grant Still (arr).

But without John Bowman violin, and with the Rythm Boys added.

Hugh Jarse
04-03-2004, 10:13 AM
Halleluiah another jazz man!!
I felt I was out in the wilderness.
keep it up Cat.

Hugh [stay cool man]

Terry Porritt
04-03-2004, 03:43 PM
No, No, No, Hugh, .... "Cool" means Miles Davis, Modern Jazz Quartet, Dizzy Gillespie (I think) and other so-called jazz from the 40s onwards :) :)

Hugh Jarse
04-03-2004, 05:38 PM
Back up the truck man..
You saying the innovaters like Dizz and Bird and Coleman Hawkins arent playing jazz??
Progression man, progression. Yeah I dig the old guys like Kid Orly and Satchmo [the first innovater] Sydney Bechet etc but hell. We'd all be banging on washtubs and playing kazoos if it werent for the likes of the newer guys surely?
Whatcha Reckon Terry??

Terry Porritt
04-03-2004, 05:55 PM
Everyone to their taste, for me 1935 is about the cut-off date :)