Remembering past bandleaders, musicians, arrangers and ballroom operators.
Bandleader Sammy Kaye dies of cancer at age 77
Ridgewood, N.J. (AP) - Sammy Kaye, the popular big band leader famous for such hits as "Harbor Lights" and "There Will Never Be Another You," has died of cancer at the age of 77, his publicist said Wednesday.
Kaye, a longtime resident of New York City, died Tuesday night at Valley Hospital here.
Kaye came to New York in 1938 and immediately gained popularity with an act that was called "Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye," and later he was featured on a NBC Radio program called the "Sunday Serenade," said publicist Gary Stevens.
It was on Dec. 7, 1941, that the show was interrupted with the news of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.
"Everyone was listening to Sammy's music when the news of the attack was made," said Stevens. "Sammy was so touched by the news of the attack that he went home and wrote the song "Remember Pearl Harbor."
The song, which Stevens described as the first American war song of World War II, was released eight days later and sold more than one million copies, Stevens said.
Kaye also was host of half-hour musical programs on all three networks in the 1950s. "The Sammy Kaye Show" had a yearlong run on CBS beginning in 1951, aired on NBC from August to September 1953, and moved to ABC from 1958-59.
In 1954, Kaye appeared on ABC's game show "So You Want to Lead a Band." Members of the studio audience were chosen to lead the band and the winner was selected by the audience.
Kaye was born near Cleveland, attended Ohio University and led his successful band for four decades, beginning in the 1930s.
The band scored major hits with "Daddy" in 1941; "There Will Never Be Another You" in 1942; and "Harbor Lights" in 1950. He and the band backed Don Cornell on the 1950 hit "It Isn't Fair."
Kaye, who played clarinet and saxophone, continued to lead his band until last year when he retired and turned the group over to Roger Thorpe.
Among the people who played with Kaye were actor Hal Linden, who played saxophone with the band before moving to television and Broadway.
[Source: Mobile Register (Mobile, Alabama), dated June 4, 1987]
Injury Complications Fatal to Hal Kemp
Madera, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 21 – (AP) – Hal Kemp, 36-year-old orchestra leader, died here today from complications that developed from injuries he received in an automobile accident Wednesday.
Death came from pneumonia. The bandleader lived in Beverly Hills. His wife was at his bedside.
[Source: Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), dated December 21, 1940]
Hal Kemp Dies as Result of Auto Mishap
Punctured Lung Brought Pneumonia for Southern-Born Bandleader
(By United Press)
Madera, Cal., Dec. 21 – Hal Kemp, whose dance band with its famed staccato style was rated one of the best in the nation, died today from pneumonia which developed when his lungs were pierced by a broken rib suffered in a car accident.
Kemp was driving to San Francisco from Los Angeles Wednesday night when his car and another were involved in an accident. He was badly hurt but was believed out of danger when pneumonia developed.
The orchestra leader was born 36 years ago in Marion, Ala., and his musical talent developed rapidly during his high school years. When he entered the University of North Carolina he was adept on the piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet and other instruments. He organized a college orchestra and while on tour in Texas, the orchestra was heard by Andrew Tarzus who engaged Kemp to play at his Trianon Ballroom in Chicago. That engagement projected Kemp into national prominence and his was a “name” band from then on.
Mrs. Kemp said services would be held in San Francisco. She and Kemp were married in January, 1939, and have one child.
Casimiro Azparren, driver of the other car was charged with negligent homicide.
[Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee), dated December 22, 1940]
Bandleader Stan Kenton Is Dead Following A Stroke
Los Angeles (AP) – Bandleader Stan Kenton, an innovation force in jazz music for more than 35 years, died Saturday at Midway Hospital in Hollywood. He was 67. Kenton was hospitalized last week after suffering a stroke.
A West Coast favorite during the big band era, Kenton developed a national reputation in the late 1940s when he replaced his dance band style with “progressive jazz.” Kenton’s newer music was described by one associate as “one of those in-between things, going from jazz into a concert area without getting completely symphonic.”
More innovations followed as Kenton continued to experiment with his big band jazz sound, even designing his own instrument, the mellophonium – a cross between a trumpet and a French horn.
Although some aspects of his music changed, there remained a basic thrust to his style throughout his career: Kenton’s piano would dominate and the band would take off on a loud foray before returning to a slower tempo.
Critics were divided on Kenton, calling him everything from a “musical fraud” to the “greatest thing that ever happened to music.”
“It’s hard to remain neutral about him,” wrote one columnist. “You either love him madly or hate him just as madly.”
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated August 26, 1979]
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