A Tribute to Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis (Bing) Crosby
Born: Tacoma, Washington, 3 May 1903
Died: Madrid, Spain, 14 October 1977
Bing Crosby - A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903-1940 by Gary Giddens (Little, Brown and Company, 2001, 728 pages).
Excerpt from the Introduction:
"It is impossible to regard Bing Crosby as a historical figure without considering some of his statistics. If nothing else they reveal his predominance over popular entertainment from Prohibition until the mid-1950s, when his decline as the nation's predominant muse was signaled by the comeback of a newly charged Sinatra and the arrival of Elvis - the former marketed to adults, the latter to their children. During Crosby's reign, that split did not exist.
- He was the first full-time vocalist ever signed to an orchestra.
- He made more studio recordings than any other singer in history (about 400 more than Sinatra).
- He made the most popular record ever, 'White Christmas,' the only single to make American pop charts twenty times, every year but one between 1942 and 1962. In 1998. after a long absence, his 1947 version hit the charts in Britain.
- Between 1927 and 1962 he scored 368 charted records under his own name, plus twenty-eight as vocalist with various bandleaders, for a total of 396. No one else has come close; compare Paul Whiteman (220), Sinatra (209), Elvis (149), Glenn Miller (129), Nat "King" Cole (118), Louis Armstrong (85), the Beatles (68). He scored the most number one hits ever, thirty-eight .
In his CD notes to the Crosby Centennial Anthology, Canadian/America Representative of the Crosby Club,
F.B. (Wig) Wiggins wrote:
During a spectacular career that spanned more than fifty years, Bing Crosby was the best known and most popular singing star of the 20th century, famous the world over as well as in America.
Bing was also the first multi-media superstar. In addition to making hundreds of best-selling recordings, he was also one of the biggest stars on radio for three decades, serving as host of popular musical variety shows on each of the major networks. He was also one of the leading actors in Hollywood, being voted number one at the box office for an unequaled five consecutive years (1944 - 1948).
Bing's singing is still unequaled in pop music for its smooth clarity and clean diction.
Even Frank Sinatra was an ardent admirer of Der Bingle.
Let's not only remember him as just "The Voice of Christmas."
To give one example, compare the recordings of the Great Depression classic song, "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?"
Listen to the Rudy Vallee unemotional version of the song,
then listen to Bing's powerful intrpretation. There's no doubt about it. Bing's is best!
In fact he could sing any kind of music, from country & western to jazz, from Irish songs to Hawaiian pop tunes, from love ballads to snappy uptempo numbers. He sang them all extremely well in his easygoing distinctive baritone voice.
He was "The King of Popular Singers."
--Roger Lee Hall, May 2008
Roger presented a special illustrated lecture titled, "Bing and Bob in Hollywood: A Tribute to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope" presented on the centennial of the birth for both show business greats and listed at
Music Lectures and Workshops
See also radio programs from The Bing Crosby Show at
Hopalong Cassidy Music
Here are some recommended Bing Crosby Single CDs and Sets:
- Bing Crosby: A Centennial Anthology of His Decca Recordings
(MCA, 2 CDs - 50 tracks)
- Bing! His Legendary Years, 1931-1957 (MCA, 4 CDs, 1993)
- Bix 'N' Bing (Bix Beiderbecke and Bing Crosby)
(ASV Living Era, 1992, 20 tracks)
- Cowboy Country Crosby Style (Jasmine, 2003, 21 tracks)
- Going Hollywood, Vol. 1: 1930-1936 (Jasmine, 1998, 2 CDs)
- Going Hollywood, Vol. 2: 1936-1939 (Jasmine, 2000, 2 CDs)
- Going Hollywood, Vol. 3: 1940-1944 (Jasmine, 2002, 2 CDs)
- Going Hollywood, Vol. 4: 1944-1949 (Jasmine, 2003, 2 CDs)
- I'm an Old Cowhand - Bing Crosby
(ASV Living Era, 1995, 25 tracks)
- It's Easy to Remember (Proper Box - 4 CDs, 2002)
Recommended DVDs of Bing Crosby Musicals:
Listen to several Bing Crosby Shows with guest,
Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd).
Click on this link to
Hoplaong Cassidy Music
See how many songs recorded by Bing Crosby are on this list of
A Century of American Songs (1861-1961)
To read about Bing's biggest hit record, click on this link for
Christmas Hit Songs
For more about Bing Crosby, see this recommended web site:
Bing Crosby - A Celebration of His Life
BING CROSBY - Academy Award Winners & Nominees, 1934-1960
Total Time = 61:08
MCA/Decca Records 088 112 274-2
1. Love in Bloom (with Irving Aronson & His Commanders)
2. Pennies From Heaven (with Georgie Stoll & His Orchestra
3. The Way You Look Tonight
(with Dixie Lee Crosby and Victor Young & His Orchestra)
4. Sweet Leilani (with Lani McIntyre & His Hawaiins)
5. Thanks For The Memory (with Jack Pleis & His Orchestra)
6. Only Forever (with John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra)
7. White Christmas (with the Ken Darby Singers and John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra)
8. Swinging On A Star (with the Williams Brothers Quartet and John Scott Trotter)
9. Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive (with the Andrews Sisters and Vic Schon & His Orchestra)
10. Aren't You Glad You're You
(with John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra)
11. You Keep Coming Back Like A Song
(with John Scott Trotter)
12. On The Atcheson, Topeka And The Sante Fe
(with Six Hits and A Miss and J.S. Trotter)
13. Mona Lisa
(with Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires and Jack Pleis & His Orchestra)
14. In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening (with Jane Wyman and Four Hits and A Miss and Matty Matlock's All-Stars)
15. Zing A Little Zong (with Jane Wyman and Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires and Nathan Van Cleave & His Orchestra)
16. Secret Love (with John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra)
17. Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep
(with Joseph J, Lilley & His Orchestra)
18. Gigi (with Pete King & His Orchestra and Chorus)
19. Never On Sunday
(with Malcolm Lockyer & His Orchestra and Chorus)
20. The Second Time Around (with Pete King & His Orchestra)
Bing Crosby was not only one of the best pop singers of the 20th century, he also holds the record for singing the most Academy Award winning songs in the films. He sang four of them:
"Sweet Leilani" (from WAIKIKI WEDDING in 1937)
"White Christmas" (from HOLIDAY INN in 1942)
"Swinging On A Star" (from GOING MY WAY in 1944)
"In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening"
(from HERE COMES THE GROOM in 1951).
The next singer in line would be Frank Sinatra with three Oscar winning songs in films.
In addition to the four Academy Award winners, Bing Crosby sang and recorded other songs in films that were Oscar nominated for Best Song. From the 1930s and '40s there were: "Love in Bloom" (from SHE LOVES ME NOT in 1934 - which later became Jack Benny's theme song); the sentimental "Pennies From Heaven" (from 1936); the lovely "Only Forever" (from RHYTHM ON THE RIVER in 1940); the snappy "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" (from HERE COME THE WAVES in 1945); "Aren't You Glad You're You?" (from THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S in 1945)); and "You Keep Coming Back Like A Song" (from BLUE SKIES in 1946). Three other Oscar nominated songs followed: "Zing A Little Zong" (from JUST FOR YOU in 1952); "Count Your Blessings Instead Of Sheep" (from WHITE CHRISTMAS in 1954); and "The Second Time Around" (from HIGH TIME in 1960). That's quite a lineup of great movie songs!
Bing even made cover recordings of Oscar winning songs that were hits for other singers. These were: "The Way You Look Tonight" (sung by Fred Astaire in SWING TIME, 1936); "Thanks For The Memory" (sung by Bob Hope & Shirley Ross in BIG BROADCAST OF 1938); "On The Atcheson, Topeka And The Sante Fe" (sung by Judy Garland in THE HARVEY GIRLS in 1946); "Secret Love" (sung by Doris Day in CALAMITY JANE in 1953); and "Gigi" (sung by Louis Jordan in 1958).
There are a few recordings which I didn't care much for, such as "The Way You Look Tonight" (sung with his wife, Dixie Lee). Another one is "Zing A Little Zong" which is really pretty corny. And then there is Bing's first Oscar winning song, "Sweet Leilani" from 1937. It does have a certain dated charm, but that too is pretty sappy. There was another song Oscar nominated that year: "They Can't Take That Away From Me"by George and Ira Gershwin. It was the only song by the Gershwin brothers to be nominated. George died in 1937. Oscar Levant, the composer and pianist, who was a friend of the Gershwins, made this famous venomous remark:
"I'd like to say something about the composer of 'Sweet Leilani,' Harry Owens: His music is dead...but he lives on forever."
Well, Oscar was probably correct because few people remember Harry Owens today. But "Sweet Leilani" is remembered mostly because of the hit recording made by Bing and Lani McIntyre & His Hawaiins.
Of special note to film score fans are the various film composers and arrangers who worked on the Crosby recordings. They are: Victor Young (track 3); Ken Darby (track 7); and Nathan Van Cleave (track 15).
If you're not familiar with Bing Crosby's superbly expressive delivery, then you should consider getting this great compilation of Oscar songs. There is none of the over-the-top singing of today's screamers or mumblers. With Bing you can understand every single word and he often adds his little touches to the melody, such as the original recording of "White Christmas" in 1942. And he always seemed so at ease with the singing and made his recordings sound like he was having such a good time.
This is a great collection of Academy Award winners and nominees, sung with the rich baritone voice of Bing. The sound is extremely good, even on the '30s recordings. The notes by F.B.(Wig) Wiggans are very informative and the booklet design is clear and easy to read - thank goodness!
This excellent compilation is well worth adding to your collection, especially if you're a Bing Crosby or vintage movie song fan.
-- Roger Hall, September 2000
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