Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bing Crosby's birthday and...

By the time  Bing Crosby was three years of age, his family had moved from Tacoma to Spokane, Washington. Whether the family misplaced his birth records in the move, or if they simply didn't record the date, I don't know. I have read that his family sat down to figure it out, and the agreed upon date emerged as May the 2nd, 1904. During his lifetime, Bing's birthday was always celebrated on the 2nd. Several years after he passed in 1977, his baptismal record turned up, which prodded a biographer to do a bit of checking in a Tacoma's newspaper's archive. It turned out that Crosby's actual birthdate was May 3rd, 1903.

Before so many  1940's radio shows became available, one of my personal favorites of all the shows I'd done was a show I called "Bing and...", which featured duets with other performers. I think that show may have started my birthday tributes. At any rate, for several years now I've usually done an all Bing show for his birthday, but this year, since I'd just done an all Ella Fitzgerald birthday tribute, I decided not to devote the whole show to Mr. Crosby. If I did, it would mean ignoring a favorite chant-hussy Blossom Dearie, whose birthday was April 28th, and lyricist Larry Hart, whose birthday is May 2nd.

Blossom Dearie (and yes, that's her real name)
Composer Richard Rodgers (left) and lyricist Larry Hart (right)
This week's featured broadcast was a Kraft Music Hall, originally heard on May 3rd, 1945. The Music Hall started in 1933 with Paul Whiteman, 'the king of jazz', as host. Crosby had started performing in 1925 as part of a duo which favored 'hot' jazz. Mr. Whiteman had hired them, and was responsible for expanding them into a trio known as 'The Rhythm Boys'. By the time the Kraft shows started, Crosby had gone solo and had his own radio show. In 1936, Crosby replaced his former boss as the host of the Music Hall.
He continued in that role (while adding 'Academy Award winning movie star' to his list of accomplishments) until 1946. Back then, the big networks (NBC Red, NBC Blue, and CBS) required their programs to be broadcast live, as the sound was of higher quality than the transcriptions independent stations and the Mutual Broadcasting stations used. This meant that shows had to be performed twice for each broadcast - once for each coast to overcome the three hour time difference. The first to rebel was Jack Benny, who simply did his show once. Crosby wanted to prerecord, but the network and sponsors refused. He'd taken note of a captured German technology, and became a principal financer of the Ampex tape recorder company. When the government forced NBC to give up one of its networks, the Blue was spun off and became ABC. They agreed to let Crosby prerecord and edit his shows for broadcast; Philco signed on as the sponsor. Oh, by the way, Crosby introduced his friend Les Paul to the magnetic recording device. It was Les Paul who started multi-track recording.

During the week of the Kraft broadcast, there was incredible wonderful news. There wasn't time to include any news broadcasts in this week's show, so I've already started work on a way to present them next week. After all, May the 8th (a Friday this year) is the 75th anniversary of VE Day. If anyone would like a preview, check out the newspaper stories, advertisements & etc. posted on my show's Facebook page for the news of the week I didn't get to use. Here's a link which should give access to anyone without a Facebook account:

As always, I hope any listeners like the show.