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Bob Crosby & His Orchestra

Bob Crosby & His Orchestra
Artist Description

Bob Crosby was born on August 25th 1913 in Spokane, Washington. In time he became a bandleader, singer, actor, composer but was always the younger brother of that entertainment colossus Bing Crosby. Although he never equalled his brother’s fame he did achieve prominence as the leader and front man of one of the best swing bands of the 1930’s. Although, true to say, he also found himself of being the least important member of his own orchestra. Bob started out as a vocalist with the Anson Weeks Orchestra in 1932 and by 34/35 was part of the Dorsey Brothers Band. Next he was asked to front several musicians from Ben Pollack’s Band (one of the best bands around in the 20s with Ben himself earning the title ‘The Father Of Swing’). Many star soloists passed through including Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Glenn Miller, Jimmy McPartland, Mugsy Spanier and Charlie Spivak. Rather than follow the ‘Swing Bands’ the inspiration here was to look backwards and do big band arrangements of Dixieland music (Bob Crosbys’ small band The Bob Cats did the same thing in miniature). Their classic recordings of ‘South Rampart Street Parade’ and ‘What’s New’ along with the many Dixieland Stomps made the band popular from 35-40. Such talented soloists as Yank Lawson, Billy Butterfield, Irving Fazola, Bob Zurke, Mugsy Spanier played an important part in this popularity and were accordingly allocated most of the solo space. The ‘Bands within Bands’ became a feature with many of the big bands of the era, due in part to their leader’s understanding that the musicians needed to explore their music without the confines of orchestration. In Bob Crosby’s case he recognised that although they enjoyed the Big Band Orchestrations there was so much talent that should be given free range and that the Bob Cats was the way to go. Their love of Dixieland and the great enthusiasm this small group brought to their music became a very acceptable part of the band enjoyed by both audiences and critics alike. The Bob Cats recorded in their own right as well as appearing as the ‘guests’ of other artist’s recordings. During the 1940s, both before and after the War (during which Crosby served in the Marines) the band became increasingly commercial. The whole band played as The Red Nichols band for his Kellogg’s College radio show and also as Clark Randall & His Orchestra. Randall being the stage name of their wealthy Alabamian vocalist Frank Tennil Bob Crosby spent the remainder of his career in various activities including a time as a solo singer, as an MC on Radio and TV and appeared in a good few films. He died in La Jolla California on March 9th, 1993.