Showing 169 results

Authority record

Andrews Sisters

  • LC81133923
  • Corporate body
  • 1920s - 1960s

The Andrews Sisters were an American all-female singing group of three sisters: LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty. They were famous for their close harmony and vocal syncopation. The Andrews Sisters are considered the most famous female singing group of the first half of the 20th century, having sold an estimated 75 to 100 million records during their career.
The sisters made their breakthrough in the late 1930s with multiple issued recordings and live radio broadcast performances. They sang with a variety of other singers and bands of the era; they recorded almost fifty songs with Bing Crosby alone, half of which charted on Billboard. They also appeared in a number of Universal Pictures films in the early 1940s, at the height of their popularity.
The group officially disbanded in 1953 when youngest sister Patty decided to pursue a solo career. The sisters' relationships thereafter were often estranged, although they did continue to occasionally record together and go on reunion tours. After LaVerne's death in 1967, Maxene and Patty pursued separate careers before briefly reuniting for the Broadway show "Over Here!" in 1974. The year-long run was the last time any of the sisters performed together.

Andrews, LaVerne, 1911 - 1967.

  • LC2008129501
  • Person
  • 1911-07-06 - 1967-05-08

LaVerne Andrews was the oldest of the three Andrews sisters, the founder of the group, and usually sang the lowest harmony part in the trio. She died after a prolonged battle with cancer at the age of 55.

Andrews, Maxene, 1916 - 1995.

  • LC93074908
  • Person
  • 1916-01-03 - 1995-10-21

Maxene Andrews was the middle of the three Andrews sisters, and usually sang the higher harmony part in the trio. She had a successful comeback as a cabaret singer in the late 1970s and toured regularly through the 1980s, even releasing a solo album in 1985. She died from a heart attack at the age of 79.

Andrews, Patty, 1918 - 2013.

  • LC00068999
  • Person
  • 1918-02-16 - 2013-01-30

Patty Andrews was the youngest of the three Andrews sisters, the lead singer for the group, and usually sang the melody part in the trio. She pursued a solo career after the group broke up, occasionally reuniting with Maxene for reunion tours in the 1960s and '70s. She died of natural causes at the age of 94.

Arlen, Harold, 1905 - 1986

  • LC82155108
  • Person
  • 1905-02-15 - 1986-04-23

Harold Arlen was an American composer, arranger, pianist, and vocalist who is considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He wrote over 400 songs but is most famous for composing the songs for the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, particularly “Over the Rainbow,” which was voted the 20th century’s No. 1 song. Arlen wrote some of the greatest hits from the 1930’s and 40’s, such as “Get Happy,” “Stormy Weather,” “It's Only a Paper Moon,” “I've Got the World on a String,” and “Last Night When We Were Young.” He was most prolific from 1929 through the 1950s.
He was born as Hyman Arluck in Buffalo, New York in 1905 to Jewish parents. The son of a Jewish cantor (a trained song-leader for Jewish services) and pianist, Arlen showed exceptional musical talent in childhood. Hyman loved to sing, but was extremely shy. His mother hoped that he would become a music teacher, so she introduced a piano into the Arluck home. Hyman began studying around the age of nine and quickly outgrew the neighborhood piano teacher. He went on to study with the leading local teacher, who was also a conductor, organist and composer. Before long, Hyman left school as a teenager and achieved some local success working as a vocalist and pianist in different bands. He moved to New York City in the 1920s, where he worked as an accompanist in vaudeville and changed his name to Harold Arlen. Arlen composed several songs during that period, but published the first of his many well-known pieces in 1929, "Get Happy", with lyrics by Ted Koehler. "Get Happy” attracted attention to the new songwriting-lyricist duo identifying Arlen and Koehler as hit writers. With “Get Happy” and other rhythmic songs to their credit, the team developed the reputation as writers of "bluesy" rhythm numbers, which were much in demand in the flourishing cabarets. Throughout the early and mid-1930s, Arlen and Koehler produced songs for Harlem’s infamous Cotton Club, which was at the heart of the cabaret scene, as well as for Broadway musicals and Hollywood films, creating familiar pieces such as "Stormy Weather" and "Let's Fall in Love."
In the mid-1930s, Arlen married, and spent increasing time in California, writing for movie musicals. It was at this time that he began working with lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. In 1938, the team was hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to compose songs for The Wizard of Oz, the most famous of which is "Over the Rainbow", which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song. They also wrote "Down with Love" (featured in the 1937 Broadway show Hooray for What!), "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", for Groucho Marx in At the Circus (1939), and "Happiness is a Thing Called Joe", for Ethel Waters in Cabin in the Sky (1943). Going into the 1940s, Arlen teamed up with Johnny Mercer to write a string of successful hits: "That Old Black Magic" (1942), "Accentuate the Positive" (1944), and "Come Rain or Come Shine" (1945), among others. From that point on he worked on various Broadway shows but became more reclusive as an illness in 1954 and the deaths of his parents in 1953 (his father) and 1958 (his mother), and later his wife (1970) caused him to lose interest in composing and music in general.
Arlen died of cancer at the age of 81.

Armstrong, Louis, 1901 - 1971

  • LC50001506
  • Person
  • 1901-08-04 - 1971-07-06

Louis Armstrong was an American trumpet player and is considered one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. Born and raised in New Orleans, as a child Armstrong worked for a local Jewish family, the Karnoffskys; they encouraged his interest in music, and as an adult Armstrong often spoke and wrote about their generosity. The first instrument he learned to play was the cornet, imitating performances by ear and receiving only a little formal training. By the time he was an adult, he was playing both cornet and trumpet on the riverboats that traveled up and down the Mississippi. It was during those years that he learned to sightread music and use written arrangements rather than playing entirely from memory, although he continued to improvise as well.
Armstrong moved to Chicago in the early 1920s, becoming an integral part of the city's jazz scene and issuing his first recordings. He moved to New York briefly in 1924 to play trumpet with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra before returning to Chicago. There he produced a series of recording with his "Hot Five" and "Hot Seven" (the Hot Five plus a drummer and a tuba). In 1929 he went back to New York to play in the all-black musical revue "Hot Chocolates". He spent much of the Great Depression touring both the United States and Europe before finally settling in New York.
Through the 1940s and '50s Armstrong recorded, toured, and acted almost continuously. He was an internationally recognized figure and traveled all over the world. In 1959 he suffered a heart attack, but he eventually recovered and in 1964 recorded the song "Hello, Dolly!". The song reached number one on the charts, displacing the Beatles for a time and making Armstrong the oldest person ever to have a number one hit. By the end of the 1960s, however, his failing health forced him to stop touring. He died of a heart attack barely a month before his 70th birthday.

Astaire, Fred

  • LC50030703
  • Person
  • 1899-05-10 - 1987-06-22

Frederick Austerlitz, Jr., also known as Fred Astaire, was an American dancer of stage and motion pictures who was best known for a number of highly successful musical comedy films in which he starred with Ginger Rogers. He is regarded by many as a pioneer in the serious presentation of dance on film and the greatest popular-music dancer of all time. Astaire entered show business at age 5. He was successful both in vaudeville and on Broadway in partnership with his sister, Adele. After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to Hollywood and made a screen test, receiving an discouraging verdict from executives: “Can’t act, can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little.” Signed to RKO, he was loaned to MGM to appear in Dancing Lady (1933) before starting work on RKO's Flying Down to Rio (1933) with Ginger Rogers. The two were a sensation, stealing the picture from stars Delores del Rio and Gene Raymond. Public demand compelled RKO to feature the pair in a classic series of starring vehicles throughout the 1930s, with The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), and Swing Time (1936) often cited as the best of the lot. Although Astaire worked well with several leading ladies throughout his career, including Eleanor Powell, Rita Hayworth (whom Astaire cited as his favorite on-screen partner) and Lucille Bremer, his partnership with Rogers had a special chemistry.
Astaire retired temporarily in 1946, during which he opened Fred Astaire Dance Studios, but returned to the screen in 1948 and appeared in a series of Technicolor musicals for MGM that, next to his films with Rogers, constitute his most highly regarded body of work. Several of Astaire’s most-famous dance routines appear in these films, such as the slow-motion dance in Easter Parade (1948), which also featured Judy Garland; the dance with empty shoes in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), which was his 10th and final film with Rogers; the ceiling dance and the duet with a hat rack in Royal Wedding (1951); and the dance on air in The Belle of New York (1952). The best of Astaire’s films during this period was The Band Wagon (1953), often cited as one of the greatest of film musicals; it featured Astaire’s memorable duet with Cyd Charisse to the song “Dancing in the Dark.”
Astaire’s run of classic MGM musicals ended with Silk Stockings (1957), after which his screen appearances were mostly in non-dancing character roles. He continued to dance with new partner Barrie Chase for several Emmy Award-winning television specials throughout the 1950s and ’60s, and he danced again on-screen in Finian’s Rainbow (1968) and for a few steps with Gene Kelly in That’s Entertainment, Part II (1976). He subsequently performed a number of straight dramatic roles in film and TV, most notably in On the Beach (1959); The Pleasure of His Company (1962); The Towering Inferno (1974), for which he received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor; and Ghost Story (1981), his final film.
Astaire was awarded an honorary Academy Award for his contributions to film in 1950, and he received a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1981. He revolutionized the movie musical by simplifying it: Solo dancers or couples were shot in full-figure, and dances were filmed with a minimum of edits and camera angles. He was also noted for his quintessentially American vocal style; although possessing a rather thin-toned tenor voice, Astaire received much praise from jazz critics for his innate sense of swing and his conversational way with a song. His best vocal recordings were those he undertook in the early 1950s with jazz combos led by pianist Oscar Peterson.
Fred Astaire passed away from pneumonia on June 22, 1987, in Los Angeles, CA, at the age of 88.

August, Jan

  • LC 94006657
  • Person
  • 1904-09-24 - 1976-01-17

Jan was born Jan Augustoff in New York City, the youngest of five children. Jan’s parents, having paid for music lessons for the four older siblings who lacked any musical aptitude, chose not to repeat the mistake with their youngest. Jan learned to play the piano by ear as a child; as an adult he learned to read and arrange music. He mastered the xylophone, vibraphone and Solovox as well as the piano. In 1946, his instrumental recording of “Misirlou,” a Greek folk song, sold more than 1,000,000 records.
As a young man, Jan performed as a pianist with the Paul Specht Band in Greenwich Village nightclubs. In the 1930’s, Paul Whiteman invited him to play in his orchestra; Jan also performed with Ferde Grofé. With the musical shift from jazz to swing in the 1940’s, Jan returned to performing solo in clubs. His style attracted the attention of Irving Gwirtz of Diamond Records, who signed him to a recording contract. He received union scale wages of approximately $35 for his recording of “Bob-a-Loo” and “Misirlou”; the recording reached the Top Ten on the charts and launched his career.
Jan hosted and performed on radio, notably a 15-minute weekly broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network from 1947-1948. In 1948 and 1950, he appeared on "The Toast of the Town" and from 1949-1951 he accompanied singer Roberta Quinlan on her NBC variety show. Later he hosted "Jan August’s Revere Camera Show". In 1949, he served as the subject of a 9-minute film short entitled "Audition for August" with Kitty Kallen. In the 1950’s, Jan signed a recording contract with the Mercury label recording instrumental versions of popular hits laced with Latin rhythms. He also toured with his own orchestra in the United States and Canada. After arranging and recording more than 140 songs, Jan retired in 1967. He died of heart disease about a decade later.
Shortly before Jan's death, a musician performing under the name Jan August made the news in Florida, but it was an imposter.

Basie, Count, 1904-1984

  • LC81016968
  • Person
  • 1904-08-21 - 1984-04-26

William James "Count" Basie is one of America's best-known jazz musicians. He was a pianist, bandleader, and composer. As a teenager and young adult in the 1920s, Basie met and performed with a variety of recognized names in Harlem: Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Fats Waller, among others. In 1929 he joined up with Bennie Moten in Kansas City, acting as both pianist and co-arranger for the band. When Moten died in 1936, Basie formed his own band, largely from its former members. It was this core group that ended up improvising their way into one of Basie's early hits, "One O'Clock Jump," and brought them to the attention of record producers.
After an extended engagement in Chicago that allowed "Count Basie and His Barons of Rhythm" to refine their sound, Basie moved the band back to Harlem. They played at the Woodside Hotel, the Roseland Ballroom, and eventually the Savoy. Although Basie hired arrangers for the band, the group often worked out their numbers in rehearsals and then performed the partially improvised pieces from memory. In 1939, the band did a cross-country tour and performed on the West Coast for the first time. Although World War II caused a lot of member turnover, Basie remained famous for keeping an enthusiastic band that played with infectious good cheer and featured a continuous string of talented jazz instrumentalists and singers. However, declining interest in swing and traditional big band sound led him to disband the group after the war ended.
But Basie continued to perform with other groups, and in 1952 he ended up reforming his group with new members, working strains of bebop, rhythm and blues, and early rock'n'roll into his arrangements and working as a more organized ensemble than he had previously. In 1958, Basie headed to Europe with the new band. Post-war Europe loved jazz and had already welcomed a number of American expatriates who were happy to perform with Basie's band. The 1960s were filled with tours, television appearances, and recording with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennett. Basie maintained the classic big band sound into the 1980s despite music trends and more changes in personnel. He died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 79. The band, led by former members, continues to record and perform today.

Beiderbecke, Bix, 1903-1931

  • LC50006777
  • Person
  • 1903-03-10 - 1931-08-06

Bix Beiderbecke was an American jazz cornetist who was an outstanding improviser and composer of the 1920s. He played with a distinctive tone and strikingly original improvisational style. He is considered the first major white jazz soloist. Beiderbecke’s only competitor among cornetists in the 1920s was Louis Armstrong, but the two cannot be compared due to their different styles and sounds.
Bix was born March 10, 1903 in Davenport, Iowa. His mother was a musician who played piano and was the organist for the First Presbyterian Church. Bix was a bit of a child prodigy, picking out tunes on the piano when he was three years old. While he had formal training in piano, he taught himself the cornet largely by ear, which led him to adopt a non-standard fingering some critics have connected to his original sound. Bix attended Davenport High School from 1918 to 1921, during which time he sat in and played professionally with various bands. His parents disapproved of his playing music so in 1921 they enrolled him in the exclusive Lake Forest Academy, just north of Chicago. However, his interest in music remained and he often visited Chicago to listen to jazz bands in night clubs and speakeasies. He was ultimately expelled from school and returned to Davenport in 1923.
That same year Bix joined the Wolverine Orchestra and recorded with them later the following year. In late 1924 Bix left the Wolverines to join Jean Goldkette’s Orchestra, but his inability to read sheet music resulted in him eventually losing the job. In 1926 he played with Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra with whom he recorded “In a Mist.” In 1927 Bix joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, which was the highest paid dance band of the 1920s. Bix played on four hit records, all under the Whiteman name: “Together,” “Ramona,” “My Angel,” and “Ol’ Man River,” which featured Bing Crosby on vocals. Bix made his greatest recordings in 1927; he helped define the jazz ballad with his solos on “Singin’ the Blues” and “I’m Coming, Virginia”. “In a Mist” (1927), one of a handful of his piano compositions and the only one he ever recorded, was a solo masterpiece that fused jazz with classical influences.
For Bix, the downside of being with Whiteman was the relentless touring and recording schedule, which exacerbated his lifelong troubles with alcohol. On November 30, 1928, while on tour in Cleveland, Bix suffered what was termed a “nervous crisis”; but it has been suggested that it was actually an acute attack of delirium tremens brought about by Bix’s attempt to curb his alcohol intake. Bix returned to Davenport in February 1929 to convalesce and Whiteman famously kept Bix’s chair open in his honor, hoping he would return.
Bix returned to New York in January 1930 but was never the same again. He did not rejoin the Whiteman Orchestra and performed only sparingly. On his last recording session in September 1930, Bix played on the original recording of Hoagy Carmichael’s new song, “Georgia on My Mind,” which would go on to become a jazz and popular music standard. He lived the rest of his life in a rooming house in Queens, New York, where he was known to drink heavily while composing his solo piano pieces, “Candlelight,” “Flashes,” and “In the Dark,” none of which he ever recorded. He died at age 28 on August 6, 1931 as the result of an alcoholic seizure.

Bennett, Tony, 1926-

  • LC85006632
  • Person
  • 1926-08-03 -

Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born in Queens to Italian parents. He grew up poor and began singing for money in restaurants at age 13. He briefly attended New York's School of Industrial Art, learning painting and music, but dropped out at age 16 to work and support his family. Bennett was drafted into the US Army in late 1944 and was part of the military force that pushed the German army out of France and back into their homeland. He remained briefly as part of the occupying force after the end of the war, and was assigned to sing with a special services band entertaining American forces. He returned to the US in 1946 and studied at the American Theatre Wing. It was during this period that he developed the technique of imitating the style and phrasing of other artists that helped him learn to improvise while performing.
In 1949, Bennett was invited by singer Pearl Bailey to open for one of her shows. Bob Hope attended the performance and hired Bennett to perform with him on his tours. Bennett signed with Columbia Records the next year, and recorded his first hit "Because of You" a year after that. For the rest of the 1950s he continued to be a certifiable hit. In August 1956 he hosted a temporary television variety show, "The Tony Bennett Show," in Perry Como's NBC slot as part of a summer show series that also featured Patti Page and Julius La Rosa. Bennett would do so again in 1959.
Despite the arrival of rock'n'roll, Bennett continued to release a steady stream of popular and jazz albums and remained a highly popular nightclub performer. In 1962, he sang as part of the initial broadcast of the "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and recorded one of his most famous songs, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". Unfortunately, however, the 1970s were not kind to Bennett. Attempts to get into acting, recording more contemporary songs, and even starting his own record label all failed; by 1979 Bennett was rarely performing outside of Las Vegas clubs, was all but bankrupt, and had developed a drug addiction. He turned to his adult children for help, and his oldest son Danny became his manager.
In the late 1980s and into the '90s, Bennett worked to reintroduce his music to a new generation of listeners back in New York City. He recorded several successful themed albums and even appeared on MTV in 1994. He continued to tour and record well into his 80s.

Berlin, Irving, 1888 - 1989.

  • LC50026116
  • Person
  • 1888-05-11 - 1989-09-22

Israel Beilin, known as Irving Berlin, is widely regarded as one of the best and most prolific American composer-lyricists ever. Although born in Russia, his father brought the family to the US in 1893 to escape the widespread religious persecution in Russia during that period. The family, like many Jewish immigrants of the time, was extremely poor. Berlin worked to help support his family from the age of 8, hawking newspapers and singing for spare change. It was in those jobs that he learned what kind of music people wanted to hear and picked up the "ghetto" language and culture for which his work would become famous. As a teenager he began plugging songs at Tony Pastor's Music Hall, and in 1906 he was hired as a singing waiter at the Pelham Cafe. He apparently taught himself to play piano after hours by copying and improvising on popular songs.
After working as a song plugger for Harry Von Tilzer for several years, in 1911 Berlin finally wrote and published the song that would catapult him into the spotlight: "Alexander's Ragtime Band". He rode the song's popularity, writing a ragtime musical revue in 1914 called "Watch Your Step". It was his first complete musical score. He soon transitioned into writing a string of lyric ballads as well as hundreds of briefly popular topical songs. In 1919 Berlin made headlines again when he wrote "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" for Florenz Ziegfeld's "Follies of 1919"; the song would be used as the opening theme for every Follies after that, as well as the 1936 movie "The Great Ziegfeld".
Berlin felt strongly that even Tin Pan Alley should support the US during times of conflict; when the US entered World War I in 1917, he wrote the song "For Your Country and My Country" and, after being drafted that same year, created the revue "Yip Yip Yaphank" as part of the 152nd Depot Brigade. The revue would end up on Broadway the next year, with Berlin performing. One notable song that didn't make it into the revue, but that he would finally publish in 1938, was "God Bless America".
After the end of World War I, Berlin created the Music Box Theater with Sam Harris to help showcase his songs. Between the wars, he published a steady stream of what would become popular standards: "Always," "Blue Skies," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." He also headed several revues, including "As Thousands Cheer," which added "Heat Wave" and "Supper Time" to his growing list of standards. He also wrote scores and songs for major film musicals, including "Top Hat" (1935), "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938), "Holiday Inn" (1942), "Blue Skies" (1946) and "Easter Parade" (1948). "Holiday Inn," of course, was the vehicle for one of the best-selling songs of all time: "White Christmas," sung by Bing Crosby.
Berlin immediately returned to his patriotic writing after the attack on Pearl Harbor, creating another stage show called "This Is the Army." He supervised the 300-man production as it ran on Broadway and in Washington, DC, and then continued to travel with it overseas for over 3 years. He personally performed "Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," originally written for "Yip Yip Yaphank," at nearly every show. He took no wages the entire time, and donated all the show's profits to the Army Emergency Relief Fund.
Almost immediately upon his return to the US, Berlin was approached by Rodger and Hammerstein to compose the music for their upcoming musical "Annie Get Your Gun"; Jerome Kern had been hired to write the score, but his sudden death left the pair stranded until Berlin reluctantly accepted. Despite his reluctance, "Annie Get Your Gun" includes some of Berlin's most famous Broadway songs: "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "Anything You Can Do." Berlin went on to write several more shows, the most successful of which was another Ethel Merman vehicle, "Call Me Madam." After writing "Mr. President" in 1962, Berlin officially renounced his retirement and stuck to it, very rarely appearing at public events and only writing one more new song, "An Old-Fashioned Wedding," for the Broadway revival of "Annie Get Your Gun" in 1966.
Berlin died in his sleep at the age of 101.

Billman, Larry

  • LC93032525
  • Person
  • 1938-10-23 - 2017-05-03

Boswell Sisters

  • LC82024090
  • Corporate body
  • 1920s - 1936

The Boswell Sisters were an American all-female singing group of three sisters: Martha (June 9, 1905 – July 2, 1958), Connee (December 3, 1907 – October 11, 1976), and Helvetia (May 20, 1911 – November 12, 1988). They were noted for their close harmonies and unconventional renditions of popular songs, and are considered some of the first stars of mass entertainment due to their success on the radio. The group was a huge influence on later female singers such as the Andrews Sisters and Ella Fitzgerald.
Raised in New Orleans, the sisters got into ragtime and jazz and were performing regularly in vaudeville shows in their early teens. They signed with Victor Records in 1925 and toured for several years before settling in Los Angeles in 1929 and began appearing in radio programs and recording music for films. They did not attract national attention, however, until they moved to New York in 1930 and started singing in national radio broadcasts. They recorded for Brunswick Records between 1931 and 1935, issuing a series of recordings with the Glenn Miller Orchestra that are now considered milestones of vocal jazz for their experimentation with rhythm, harmony, and tempo. They also performed in several movies and toured Europe twice during the same period. In 1936 the trio signed with Decca, but suddenly broke up soon after. Connee continued a successful solo career with Decca into the 1940s, performing on the radio with Bing Crosby on a number of occasions, as well as singing in several more films.

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