Bob Allen Orchestra
From the News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania), dated August 23, 1941:
Bob Allen’s Orchestra Plays At Yankee Lake
Bob Allen and his orchestra are the attraction at Yankee Lake Pavilion tonight. Allen is the former featured singing star with the late Hal Kemp’s famous band.
From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), dated November 18, 1941:
Love in a Cottage Tame Beside Bob Allen Version
Band Leader, His Young Wife and Son Swing ‘Round Country Singing and Taking Life on High
By Jane Corby - A band leader, having daytime hours free, gets to see his baby son more often than the rank and file businessman father, if he’s the kind of band leader who takes the family along on tour, and Bob Allen is. He’s the young band leader of what is approximately the youngest aggregation of professional bandmen, and he has a young wife and a young son, and they all travel together all around the country, swingin’ and singin’ and taking life on high. They came to Brooklyn to fill a two-weeks engagement at Roseland early in the Fall, and made such a hit with Brooklyn swingsters that they were signed up until Christmas.
“It’s the first time we’ve been so long in one place since we were married,” said Mrs. Bob Allen. “We took an apartment on the strength of it at 9 Kew Gardens Road in Kew Gardens. Bob Jr., who is 7 months old and who has been traveling since he started his first tour at the age of 5 weeks, is no getting a fling at domesticity.” And of course is all the better for it?
“Makes no difference to him,” said Mrs. Allen, “any baby can be a good traveler if you start him right. Follow a good pediatrician, make a rule that the baby comes first and stick to it, let nothing interfere with his schedule and it’s no trouble at all to travel with a baby.”
Mrs. Allen was very serious when she said this, though her diminutive person, enormous blue eyes and dimples detracted somewhat from the didactic impression her words give. There’s no use in any mother who has raised five herself saying it can’t be done because Mrs. Allen is doing it and everybody concerned, including Bob Allen’s band, is having fun. The band lives in an apartment above the Allens and practices madly in their leisure hours.
Baby Demands Music
But doesn’t young Mrs. Allen have to go around saying “sh-sh-sh, the babys asleep?”
“Not my son,” said Bob Allen. “He likes music. When the band isn’t practicing upstairs we have to put the radio on or he’d kick. He sings himself to sleep with the radio.”
Bob Allen is 28, which is a lot older than his musicians, who average 20 years, but not exactly middle-aged. He’s slim and fair and apologetic about not having had to take the usual hard knocks incident to a career as an orchestra leader.
“It doesn’t sound right to say that I auditioned for a job and just got it,” said Bob, “but that’s the way it happened.”
He comes from Allendale, a suburb of Cincinnati and he was studying singing in Cincinnati and working as a soda clerk in a drugstore to pay for his lesson s when Ben Bernie came to Cincinnati’s Palace Theater. Singing with Ben Bernie was a girl who knew Bob Allen, and he went backstage to see her. She told Ben Bernie that Bob could sing and Ben Bernie promptly sent him out on the state, liked him so well that he recommended the youngster to the late Hal Kemp, and for the six years that followed Bob Allen was the featured male vocalist with the Kemp band.
Former Kemp Soloist
Bob’s voice is described by admirers as a rich, romantic baritone. He sings now with his own band and is one of the modern band leaders, of whom Vaughan Monroe is another, who are carrying on the Rudy Vallee tradition of the singing band leader.
Bob Allen’s band made its initial appearance last August in Columbus, Ohio, and includes another member of the Kemp band, Harold Mooney, who is the pianist and arranger. Dean Howard, saxophonist and arranger, 21, and Bill Oblock, start trumpeter, 17, are two other outstanding figures in the ultra-young crew. It was necessary to get a work permit from Cleveland authorities before Bill, the band’s youngest member, could go to work at all, and it is rumored that some of the more seasoned name brands are eyeing the young trumpeter enviously. Bill’s older brother, Tom, 19, plays first trombone in the band and there is another pair of brothers, the Slejko boys, Stanley, 18, bass player, and Edward, 20, sax artist.
Paul Gordon, 20, plays the sax and gives out comedy numbers, and the rest of the band is made up of 18, 19 and 20-year-olders. All but four are from Ohio.
“Experience counts a lot with a band,” says Bob, judiciously, “but youthful enthusiasm comes in handy, too.”
Has Sweet-Swing Band
Bob Allen has steered away from imitating the Kemp staccato style. He wants to develop a style of his own and has chosen for his theme a tune called “Dedicated to You,” and his tunes he called “Songs Dedicated to You.”
He says, “I like to play sweet music with enough lift to keep it from becoming uninteresting. We try to combine the best features of sweet and swing, calling it sweet-swing. If the customers demand straight swing we’ve got plenty of good hot men who can give it to them.”
The amount of musical training represented by the Bob Allen band is not inconsiderable. Bob was graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and several of the other band members have not only graduated from conservatories, but have taken part in State and national orchestra contests.
The Allens – the two Bobs and the Mrs. – travel by automobile, with the baby’s nurse, and Stuffy, the family wire-haired terrier, and the baby’s crib, and other equipment goes along with the chartered bus which carries the band members.
The Allens were married a year and a half ago after a long distance courtship of three seasons, when Mrs. Allen, who had started a school teaching career of her own, abandoned it suddenly in favor of the nomadic life of the band leader. The Allens have achieved another domestic item, besides the baby, and which, like babies, is usually relegated to a static home somewhere – a collection. They carry with them Bob’s collection of miniature figurines, of which his favorite is a minute covered wagon. With one thing and another, the Allens make love in a stationary cottage seem pretty tame.
From the News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania), dated February 25, 1943:
The Voice of Broadway – The $64 Question
By Dorothy Kilgallen - Is it true those three Roseland hostesses quit because they were forbidden to go out with the musicians in Bob Allen’s orchestra?
From the Cumberland News (Cumberland, Maryland), dated October 19, 1943:
Bob Allen Brings His Band Here Tomorrow
The past six months have witnessed the rise of a comparatively obscure bandleader to the top rank. That bandleader would be Bob Allen, who brings his orchestra to the Maryland theater tomorrow.
It all happened suddenly. Glenn Miller announced his intention of joining the army as a captain in the morale division, and the scrimmage was on among the bandleaders of the country to get the coveted job of replacing him at the Hotel Pennsylvania’s Café Rouge in New York city. Bob, then playing at a suburban night club, was the surprise choice. And, before the ink was dry on the contract, Victor Records stepped up and signed Bob to replace Miller on their recording label.
Actually, Bob Allen’s crack orchestra is styled along different lines than the now defunct Miller band. Bob was the much-admired vocalist with Hal Kemp’s orchestra for eight years and the style of his band leans heavily on his singing personality. Merrie Lane, a lovely lass from Washington, D.C., also chips in with vocal choruses.
From the Cumberland Evening Times (Cumberland, Maryland), dated October 19, 1943:
Fast-Moving Allen Band Here Thursday
Handsome Bob Allen is a young man with a voice and a band who has come out of nowhere to top-ranking among the nation’s bands. Bob and his featured songstress, Merrie Lane, will appear at the Maryland Theatre tomorrow. The highlight of Bob’s career occurred when Glenn Miller’s military activity required him to take a rain check on an engagement at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. Young Mr. Allen of Cincinnati, Ohio, proved to be the lucky fellow chosen to succeed him. To round out this little saga, it should be noted that five years before that Bob was on the very same podium – but as a vocalist with the late Hal Kemp’s orchestra.
Bob received his early education in rural schools in Ohio. He began seriously to consider singing as a profession during his high school days, and entered a music conservatory in Cincinnati.
Bob discovered that it required time to obtain recognition as a singer, so he earned his living as a soda clerk in a drug store until Ben Bernie came to town for an engagement. A former girlfriend was vocalist with the band and she arranged an audition. The Ole Maestro liked Bob and offered to take him to Chicago and introduce him to radio executives and other bandleaders.
Bob bought a round-trip ticket to Cincinnati and Chicago and return. He still has the other half of the ticket as a souvenir because Bernie introduced him to Hal Kemp and that was the beginning of an eight year span with that band leader.
After Kemp’s death, caused by an auto crash, Allen was signed by his current personal manager, Dick George, to head a promising young band then playing at Buckeye Lake in Ohio. Up until the Hotel Pennsylvania engagement, Allen’s career as a bandleader was the traditional rocky one.
But, according to the Tin Pan Alley pundits, Bob figures to be in the big chips very soon. He’s a tall good looking blonde young man, married and the father of a little tyke named Bob Allen Jr.