Saturday

DECEMBER 18TH


Fletcher Henderson
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FLETCHER HENDERSON!

BIRTHDAYS

1897
Fletcher Henderson 
Piano/Leader/arranger/accompanist
b. Cuthbert, GA, USA.
d. Dec. 29, 1952, New York, NY, USA.
né: Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr.
A graduate of Atlanta University, Fletcher relocated to New York city in 1920, ostensibly for Post-Graduate work in Chemistry, but instead played for the Black-owned Pace-Handy Music Company, where he worked both as the recording dir. for its Black Swan label, and as a pianist with the W.C. Handy orchestra. For a time, he led band on tour with the wonderfully talented singer Ethel "Sweet Mama Stringbean" Waters before forming his own band. His 1920's orchestra was far ahead of it's time.
Fletcher Henderson. In the mid-1930's, he contributed two of his own band's arrangements ("Sometimes I'm Happy" and "King Porter Stomp") to the then brand new Benny Goodman Orch. He would later join Goodman's band, contributing the entire "book" of his own original band while also writing new arrangements for Goodman. 
He not only contributed greatly to the success of the Goodman band, but is a much under-rated as one of the 'founders' of the modern "Swing" sound. Besides Goodman, Fletcher also contributed arrangements to the orchestras of Isham Jones, and the Dorsey Brothers. Perhaps his best known composition is "Down South Camp Meeting", but he also composed "Stampede", "It's Wearing Me Down", "No, Baby, No", "Wrapping It Up'', and "Bumble Bee Stomp", and the stage score for "The Jazz Train" (Bop City, New York, NY).


 

1904

 Wilf Carter 
C&W guitar/singer/Yodeler
b. Port Hilford, N.S., Canada
d. Dec. 5, 1996
(aka: "Montana Slim")
 Wilf Carter: Information from Answers.com

1920

Willis Conover, broadcaster 

b. Buffalo, NY, USA.

d. May 17, 1996, Alexandria, VA, USA.

Willis ran "Voice of America's" Jazz programming for many years.


Although rarely heard in the United States, Willis Conover was one of the most important radio broadcasters in jazz history. He worked in Washington D.C. and New York radio during the 1939-54 period but it was his association with Voice of America (starting in 1954) that was most significant. Conover's broadcasts introduced jazz to European (especially East European) listeners during the Cold War, paving the way for visits by American artists in the 1960s and 70s. 

Pianist Adam Makowicz was one of literally millions of listeners who first heard jazz on Conover's show. The broadcaster also served as emcee for the Newport Jazz Festival for over ten years, produced Duke Ellington's 70th birthday concert at the White House in 1969 and was the influential chairman of the jazz panel of the National Endowment for The Arts. Willis . 

Conover's importance in spreading the jazz message worldwide cannot be overestimated. 

~ Scott Yanow, Rovi


Pee Wee Crayton
1914
"Pee Wee" Crayton 

Guitar/Vocal
b. Rockdale, TX, USA.
d. 1985
Connie Curtis Crayton (December 18, 1914 – June 25, 1985), known as Pee Wee Crayton, was an American R&B and blues guitarist and singer.

Born in Rockdale, Texas, there are several stories on how Crayton acquired the name Pee Wee. 

In a Living 

Blues article in the 1980s, he stated that friend and singer, Roy Brown, gave him the nickname. This makes sense since Brown had a way of making nicknames for many of his friends. It has also been said that his father gave him the nickname as a tribute to a local Texas piano player.


Crayton began playing guitar seriously after moving to California in 1935, and settling in San Francisco. While there he absorbed the music of T-Bone Walker, but developed his own unique approach. His aggressive playing contrasted with his smooth vocal style, and was copied by many later blues guitarists.

In 1948 he signed a recording contract with Modern Records. One of his first recordings was the instrumental, "Blues After Hours", which reached #1 in the Billboard R&B chart late that year. Its flip side, the sleek pop ballad "I'm Still in Love With You", and the livelier "Texas Hop" indicate his range, but this was music very much of its time and place, California in the late 1940s, and he never managed to break that mould.
Essential RecordingsRockin the Blues Essential Recordings
He went on to record for many other record labels in the 1950s including Imperial in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jamie in Philadelphia and Vee-Jay in Chicago. It is thought he was the first blues guitarist to use a Fender Stratocaster, given to him by Leo Fender. 

Crayton largely faded from view until Vanguard unleashed his LP, Things I Used to Do, in 1971. After that his profile was raised somewhat; he toured and made a few more albums prior to his passing. 

A long time resident of Los Angeles, California, Crayton died of a heart attack in 1985 in Los Angeles, and was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery.



 1919
Barry Galbraith, Guitar 

b. Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
d. Jan. 13, 1983, Bennington, VT, USA.
Age: 63 (cancer ).
In the late 1930's, Barry worked with vibraphonist Red Norvo and, during 1941 to 1942, was a featured player with the Claude Thornhill orchestra, before becoming a member of the U. S. Army during WWII, and again in 1946 to 1949, after his service discharge. In 1953, he toured with Stan Kenton's band, but from 1949 through the 1970's, he worked mainly in New York recording studios as a sessions musician. 

He also played with the Benny Goodman, Tal Farlow, George Russell, Les and Larry Elgart, and Gil Evans orchestras, and helped to back singers Ella Fitzgerald, Sheila Jordan, Sarah Vaughan, Andy Williams, and Tony Bennett, among others. He recorded as part of the 'Music Minus One' series, discs of rhythm-section accompaniments for home players. Galbraith was the featured soloist on "Barry's Tune", and on Gil Evans's "Into the Hot".


1916
Betty Grable
Born: 

December 18, 1916

Died: July 2, 1973

Betty Grable was an American actress, dancer and singer.


Her iconic bathing suit photo made her the number-one pin-up girl of the World War II era. It was later included in the LIFE magazine project "100 Photos that Changed the World". Grable was particularly noted for having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood and studio publicity widely dispersed photos featuring them. Hosiery specialists of the era often noted the ideal proportions of her legs as: thigh (18.5") calf (12"), and ankle (7.5"). Grable's legs were famously insured by her studio for $1,000,000 with Lloyds of London.

~Early life
She was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri to John Conn Grable (1883–1954) and Lillian Rose Hofmann (1889–1964). She was the youngest of three children.

Most of Grable's immediate ancestors were American, but her distant heritage was of Dutch, Irish, German and English stock. She was propelled into the acting profession by her mother. For her first role, as a chorus girl in the film Happy Days (1929), Grable was only 12 years old (legally underage for acting), but, because the chorus line performed in blackface, it was difficult to tell how old she was. Her mother soon gave her a make-over which included dyeing her hair platinum blonde.

~Career
For her next film, her mother got her a contract using a false identification. When this deception was discovered, however, Grable was fired. Grable finally obtained a role as a 'Goldwyn Girl' in Whoopee! (1930), starring Eddie Cantor. Though Grable received no billing, she led the opening number, "Cowboys." Grable then worked in small roles at different studios for the rest of the decade, including the Academy Award-winning The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, where she was prominently featured in the number "Let's K-nock K-nees".

In the late 1930s, Grable signed a contract with Paramount Pictures, starring in several B movies, mostly portraying co-eds. Despite playing leads, the typecasting proved to hurt her career more than it was helpful. In 1939, Grable appeared with her then husband, Jackie Coogan (married in 1937), in Million Dollar Legs, from which her nickname is taken. They divorced later that same year (October 1939). After small parts in over 50 Hollywood movies through the 1930s, Grable finally gained national attention for her stage role in the Cole Porter Broadway hit Du Barry Was a Lady (1939). When her contract at Paramount expired, Grable decided to quit acting, being fed up with appearing in college films. In a 1940 interview, she said:

"I was sick and tired of it. I'd made up my mind to leave show business altogether. So I retired - and then came an offer, unsolicited, to go on a personal appearance tour. I went. Next thing I knew, Mr. Zanuck had seen my picture in the paper and offered me a contract at a lot more money. I took it. Then came Buddy DeSylva with a part in his Broadway show Du Barry Was a Lady. Mr. Zanuck said I could take it if I wanted to. I did. The show was successful. Then as if all this weren't enough, Alice Faye fell ill just before Down Argentine Way was to start and I was drafted to fill her shoes. If that's not luck I don't know what you'd call it. But that's how it's been all my life. I've had contracts with four studios in 10 years and each time I left one or was dropped, I stepped into something better."

Grable's famous pin-up.
Grable became 20th Century Fox's top star during the decade. She appeared in Technicolor movies such as Down Argentine Way (1940), Moon Over Miami (1941) (both with Don Ameche), Springtime in The Rockies (1942), Coney Island (1943) with George Montgomery, Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943) with Robert Young, Pin Up Girl (1944), Diamond Horseshoe (1945) with Dick Haymes, The Dolly Sisters (1945) with John Payne and June Haver. Mother Wore Tights (1947), her most popular film, was with her favorite costar, Dan Dailey.

It was during her reign as box office queen in 1943 that Grable posed for her famous pinup photo, which (along with her movies) soon became escapist fare among GIs fighting in World War II. The image was taken by studio photographer Frank Powolny. It was rumored that the particular pose and angle were chosen to hide the fact that Grable was pregnant at the time of the photo. In the stage play (1951) and motion picture (1953), of Stalag 17, Stanislas "Animal" Kasava, (Robert Strauss) is infatuated with her, spending his day staring at her photographs. "I seen all your pictures six times" he says "I would not even open the popcorn."

Starting in 1942, Grable was named in the top 10 box office draws for 10 consecutive years. For eight of those ten years, she was the top female-box office star. In 1943, she was named the #1 movie box office attraction. By the end of the 1940s Grable was the highest-paid female star in Hollywood, receiving $300,000 a year. During the 1940s and early 1950s, thirty Fox films were among the top ten highest grossing films of the year. Of those, ten were movies featuring Grable; eight of those movies were Fox's highest grossing pictures for their repesctive years.


Grable was even the heroine of a novel, Betty Grable and the House with the Iron Shutters, written by Kathryn Heisenfelt, published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1943. While the heroine is identified as the famous actress, the stories are entirely fictitious. The story was probably written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as "Whitman Authorized Editions", 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.

Her postwar musicals included: That Lady in Ermine (1948) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948) again with Dailey, Wabash Avenue (1950) (a remake of Grable's own Coney Island) with Victor Mature, My Blue Heaven (1950), and Meet Me After the Show (1951). Studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck lavished his star with expensive Technicolor films, but also kept her busy — Grable made nearly 25 musicals and comedies in 13 years. Her last big hit for Fox was How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe. Grable next starred in Three for the Show (1955) with Jack Lemmon; this film was one of her last musicals.

Grable's later career was marked by feuds with studio heads. At one point, in the middle of a fight with Zanuck, she tore up her contract and stormed out of his office. By 1953, Zanuck was grooming Marilyn Monroe to replace Grable as the Fox's resident sex symbol. Far from feeling threatened, on the set of How to Marry a Millionaire Grable famously said to Monroe, "go and get yours, honey! I've had mine". It was at this point that Grable lost her father 'Conn' Grable in 1954, at age 71.

Grable returned to the studio for one last film, How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955) with Sheree North. Following this, Grable hoped to secure the role of Miss Adelaide in the film version of the musical Guys and Dolls. However, when producer Samuel Goldwyn learned that Grable skipped a meeting with him because one of her dogs had taken ill, he became incensed and removed her from consideration. Vivian Blaine, who had originated the role on Broadway, was ultimately cast.

Having left movies entirely, she made the transition to television and starred in Las Vegas. It was in these transition years to stage, when Betty lost her mother Lillian in 1964, at age 75. By 1967, she took over the lead in the touring company of Hello, Dolly!. She starred in a 1969 musical called Belle Starr in London, but it was savaged by critics and soon folded.

Grable's last role was Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday, at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida in February 1973.

~Personal life
In 1937, Grable married another famous former child actor, Jackie Coogan. He was under considerable stress from a lawsuit against his parents over his childhood earnings and the couple divorced in 1939.

In 1943, she married trumpeter Harry James. The couple had two daughters, Victoria and Jessica. They endured a tumultuous 22-year marriage that was plagued by alcoholism and infidelity. The couple divorced in 1965. Grable entered into a relationship with a dancer, Bob Remick, several years her junior. Though they did not marry, their romance lasted until the end of Grable's life.

~Death
Grable died July 2, 1973, of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, 30 years to the day after her marriage to Harry James — who, in turn, died on what would have been his and Grable's 40th anniversary, July 5, 1983. She was interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California, in the Mausoleum of the Golden West, Sanctuary of Dawn section, with her mother Lillian, alongside her father 'Conn' Grable. Sister Marjorie Grable-Arnold joined them in their family crypt upon her death at 71, in 1980.

Among the lumunaries attending her funeral were her ex husband Harry James, Dorothy Lamour, Shirley Booth, Mitzi Gaynor, Johnnie Ray, Don Ameche, Cesar Romero, George Raft, Alice Faye and Dan Dailey. "I Had the Craziest Dream," the haunting ballad Betty introduced in "Springtime in the Rockies," was played on the church organ.

~Posthumous recognition
Grable has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6525 Hollywood Boulevard. She also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2009. 

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy noted on National Public Radio's Morning Edition on April 23, 2007, in an interview with Terry Gross that Grable was his inspiration for founding the Playboy empire.


~Links
Betty Grable - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Betty Grable .net: The #1 Site For Betty Grable
Betty Grable - Biography
Betty Grable Photo Gallery
Betty Grable: Biography from Answers.com
Solid! -- Betty Grable


Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson, harmonica 

 b. (on a farm near) Jonesville, SC, USA
d. Oct. 27, 1977, Jonesville, SC, USA.
né: Arthur Jackson.
He first began to play the harmonica as a child after his father bought him a 10-cent harp for Christmas". Worked on his fathers farm until running away at just age 10. In the summers, he hoboed into Canada and New Englandn and in the winters toured to California and Florida. He made his living doing odd jobs, such as digging potatoes in Maine, cutting cane in Florida, preaching in Maryland, and working on a boat in the Caribbean. In between he also served time in a reform school and on a Georgia prison farm. Intermittently, Jackson enjoyed some brief flings at marriage. In 1930, during his 'hobo' days, he lost the lower part of his right leg, when, hungry and half asleep, he fell from a freight train near Raleigh, N.C. After his accident he sometimes "busked" for small change on the street corners. Over the years, his harp playing was greatly helped by local musicians and from Elmon "Keg-Shorty" Bell, a harmonica player in Atlanta, GA.
 
In 1922, Jackson met the Spartanburg guitar player "Pink" Anderson, who was then playing in Dr. Frank "Smiley" Kerr's medicine show. Anderson taught Jackson the medicine-show routine, showing him first how to "crossfire" lines as a straight man. Soon, Jackson was able to take over as the comic. Medicine shows paid well, and for many years Jackson performed in various troups such as those run by "Dr. Kerr", "Dr. Thompson", "old Jeffries" (who weaseled out of paying Peg Leg Sam), and "Dr. Silas Green". Peg's last regular medicine-show performances were with "Chief Thundercloud" (Leo Kahdot, a Potawatomie from Oklahoma, who began his long career playing piano and trumpet in vaudeville). Jackson retired from the road after Kahdot's death in 1973, making him one of the last medicine show minstrels. Interestingly, during 25 years of his career, Peg Leg returned annually to Rocky Mount, N.C. where, for the four month period that the tobacco market was in session, he played on a 15-minute morning radio program sponsored by Fenner's Tobacco Warehouse. (Apparently, Mr. Fenner really liked his harmonica playing.)

Toward the end of this period, Peg Leg even appeared on local television. In 1970, Pete Lowry (of Trix Records) and Bruce Bastin (of Flyright Records) met Peg Leg Sam (when they were visiting "Baby" Tate), and these two men subsequently recorded Peg Leg, and also introduced him to the College and festival circuit. In 1970, he was first recorded, playing with "Baby" Tate and Pink Anderson. Before he died in 1927, Peg Leg had appeared at UNC and Duke University, then at Philadelphia, Wolf Trap, Boston, and Washington, at the National Folk Life Festival.
Folkways film… Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson - A portrait of Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson --black harmonica player, singer, and comedian who made his living "busking" on the street and performing in patent-medicine shows touring southern towns. Footage includes excerpts from one of his last medicine shows, videotaped at a county fair in 1972, and material filmed near his home in South Carolina in 1975. The performance includes harmonica solos, songs, a parody of a chanted sermon, folktales and reminiscences, and three buck dances.
Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson ~A Film by Tom Davenport
BIO#1 
BIO #2

1908
Jeanette S. Kimball, piano
b. Pass Christian, MS, USA.

1907
Lawrence Lucie, (Jazz) guitar 

b. Emporia, VA, USA.
Mostly, a non-soloing rhythm guitarist throughout his career, but appeared on many important recording sessions. He studied banjo, mandolin and violin as a child, and played in a family band at dances. Later, even though he studied banjo at the Brooklyn Conservatory (New York city), he became a working guitarist when he started playing professionally. Among the orchestras in which he worked and recorded are Duke Ellington (1932 -he didn't record with the Duke), Benny Carter (1932-'34), Fletcher Henderson (1934), the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1934-'36), Henderson again (1936-'39), Coleman Hawkins (1940) and Louis Armstrong (1940-'44).
Lucie was also on record dates with Teddy Wilson & Billie Holiday, 'Spike' Hughes, Putney Dandridge, 'Big Joe' Turner, 'Red' Allen and 'Jelly Roll' Morton. In the 1950's, besides being a busy studio sessions man, he also gigged with the Luis Russell, Louie Bellson (1959) and Cozy Cole orchestras. 

When the Big Band era ended, Lucie often worked in a quartet with his wife, guitarist-singer Nora Lee King. He recorded (on his own 'Toy' label) some 'easy-listening' LP's during the 1970's-'80's that often featured his wife.




1922
Golden "Big" Miller, Vocal/Trombone 

b. Sioux City, IA, USA.
d. June 9, 1992.
né: Clarence Horatius Miller.
Miller was perhaps the last of the old time 'blues shouters', men with voices so powerful they could sing over an entire big band without using a microphone. In the days before the wide spread use of microphones and audio amplifiers, only those performers who could be clearly heard by theatre-goers sitting in the back row of seats had any chance of employment. On the female side, such names as Bessie Smith, and Sophie Tucker ("Last of the Red Hot Mamas") came to mind. It is not well known, but Miller was also a good trombonist, sometimes playing in a big band section, and occasionally using the trombone in a solo feature. While still a teenager, Miller was singing in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) and the city became his adopted home from the 1970s to his demise in the early 1990s. He became an integral part of the city's music scene, -playing in local venues, and often with the Tommy Banks orchestra. (Currently, 2005, Tommy is a Senator in the Canadian congress.)

Savoy was one of the first labels to record Miller, who was usually backed by a group first called 'The Clovers', and later called 'The Five Pennies'. In the 1950s, he was a part of the Jon Hendricks revue entitled 'The Evolution of the Blues', which resulted in Miller's Columbia Records contract. Miller was also one of the men who helped to form 'The Edmonton Jazz Society'. which has since grown to be the sponsor of dozens of city-wide festival concerts each summer. (The Edmonton city fathers did have a plan to erect (in 2003) a life-sized statue of Miller in one of Edmonton's city parks.) In the early 1970s, Miller began working in a Jazz program with 'The Banff Centre for Fine Arts', located in the Rocky Mountains a few hundred miles to the southwest of Edmonton. In time, Miller became a member of the faculty. (Interestingly, one of his fellow faculty members was virtuoso jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.)

During his long career, Miller also appeared in some films, including a cameo in the Hollywood comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". He also appeared in a Canadian produced surrealistic film titled 'Big Meat Eater' (directed by Chris Windsor). Here is a direct quote of the script synopsis: "Bob's life is thrown into turmoil when he decides to hire Abdullah (The Big Meat Eater) -- a massive human blockhouse of a man -- as an apprentice in his butcher shop. Unbeknownst to Bob, Abdullah has just murdered the Mayor of Burquitlam in a fit of pique -- and the corpse is hidden in Bob's freezer...Abdullah sings the blues while he charcoal grills gangsters and turns dalmatian dogs into spotted spam..." Fortunately, in 1987, the National Film Board of Canada issued a documentary short on Miller, which gave a much better view of the man and his life.
1885
Sam Morgan 

leader/cornet
b. Bertrandville, LA, USA
d. Feb. 25, 1936, New Orleans, LA, USA.
Sam Morgan was one of only two black bands recorded in New Orleans during the 1920s (Original Tuxedo Orchestra was the other. Only 25 sides were cut during the entire decade!). Morgan's recordings wonderfully demonstrate the early "New Orleans ensemble style" of playing that has now all but vanished. It was surplanted by the "Chicago Style" of Dixieland Jazz, which featured hard-driving solos by talented sidemen. At age 30, Sam suffered a stroke. He died on Mardi Gras day eleven years later.


1908
Buck Ram, composer 

b: USA.
Best known tune: "Only You"


1918
Clarence Clifford "CC/Peg" Richardson 

vocals/guitar
b. Sumter, SC, USA.
As a child, he was performing in his uncle's quartet in the Brown Chapel Church. He later told interviewers that his earliest influence was Bluesman 'Blind Boy' Fuller. While still a child, he lost part of one foot in a train accident. During his career, he would play in such bands as Jay McShann, and with Nat "King" Cole.


1901
Irene Scruggs, vocals 

b. MS, USA


1900
Suzy Solidor, vocals 

b. Saint-Servan-sur-Mer, Brittany, France
d. March 31, 1983, Cagnes-sur-Mer (Nice), France.
née: Suzanne Rocher.

Suzy, the original singer of "Lili Marlene", in France, began her professional career on May 12, 1933 when she opened "Parisian life", an exclusively all female cabaret. She openly sang songs which openly affirmed her tastes and her choices as regards sexuality. In the late 1920's, Suzy changed her name to Suzy Solidor when she moved to Paris. There, early in 1930, ahe became a popular singer and opened a chic nightclub called 'Boite de Nuit'. One of the singer's most famous publicity maneuvers was to become heralded as the "most painted woman in the world". 

She posed for a great many artists, including Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, with the stipulation that she would be given the paintings to hang in her club Eventually, 33 artists contributed portraits of her, and the 'Boite de Nuit' became one of the trendiest night spots in Paris. 


Perhaps, the best known portrait of Suzy was done by Tamara de Lempicka whom Suzy had met in the early 1930s. Tamara agreed, but only if she could paint Solidor in the nude.





 1917
Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson 

Alto Sax/Vocal
b. Houston, TX, USA.
d. July 2, 1988

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:

1934.
Willie Smith sang "Rhythm is Our Business" with Jimmy Lunceford and his orchestra. Decca Records (serial number 369).

1991.
"King Kolax"
(né William Little), trumpet
died in Chicago, IL, USA.
Age: 80

Songs Recorded/Released
1926

Five Harmaniacs
1929

Fats Waller and his Buddies
1939

Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra
Jelly Roll Morton

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