42nd Street  

The Encyclopedia of American Songs and Musicals

in the "Thirties"

        A slow recovery

The year began rather badly for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite a steady decline in unemployment, the big economic program launched in 1933 had not still brought significant results at a moment when the interventionist policy of the federal government was increasingbly contested by the business circles. These had never stopped to be uncooperative but they now held a first victory.

The Supreme Court  indeed proved them right by

invalidating several symbolic measures of the New

Deal. The codes of fair competition being declared

illegal next to the major principles of the

constitution, the NIRA (National Industrial

Recovery Act) were accordingly deleted.

The Democrats in the House approved in

exchange the introduction of the Work

Progress Administration intended to 

stimulate the job creation. Faced with this new

device that they considered costly and

ineffective, the Republicans dared to say that

the country was on the road to communism.

The new social measures imposed by

Washington succeeded however in being set up

even if it happened sometimes in the pain. On

April 28, in particular, more than a million

residents in Illinois see each other suddenly

deprived of subsistence allowances 

due to the inability of the State administration 

to finance the $ 3 million required by the

federal government to continue to pay its own contribution. 

In spite of the critics, the President keeps going for the adopted politics. He ratifies in August the Social  Security Act which is the first federal protection system for the working people. Among the most notorious provisions include benefits to retirees older than 65 as welle as to the unemployed but no action however for the disease or inability.

Roosevelt  finally soothes those who accuse him of a certain fiscal feebleness by signing the Revenue Act increasing the tax rate on the wealthiest.

Following the invasion of Ethiopia by the Italian troops, the Congress passes the Neutrality Act which prohibits the delivery of U.S. weapons to all countries at war, whoever they are. It refuses, however, to follow the proposal of the White House leaning rather towards a selective embargo. However, this measure must be reviewed every six months.

Weather conditions do not still improve in the Midwestern States. New Mexico, Colorado, or still Oklahoma where farmers live a real tragedy, are severely affected by the dust bowls. These storms so spectacular as devastating continue to beat down on the agricultural plains leaving behind them an almost desert landscape.

In early September, the Labor Day Hurricane which crosses Florida is the most powerful that will ever know the United States. The atmospheric pressure drops to 892 mbar (by comparison, that of Katrina will go down to 902 mbar) and winds reach 160 mph. Their violence is able to lift a ten-car train and propel it to more than 30 ft from the rails. There are 423 victims.

The new Douglas DC3 ensures in 15 hours its first non-stop flight from East Coast to the West Coast. It is promised to a great future.

1935 is also the year during which the Parker Brothers publish their Monopoly game and where you can buy your first Kruger beer in can.

A few dates: on January 10, the aviatress Amelia Earhart joins nonstop Honolulu to Oakland, California.

On June 3rd, the French liner Normandy arrives to New York, first stage of its inaugural journey, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1077 hours.

And finally a small invention that will change many things, on June 11th, in Alpine, New Jersey, Edwin Armstrong makes his first radio broadcast demonstration in frequency modulation.


              New voices

       Porgy and Bess, the opera composed by George Gershwin and his brother Ira, is with no doubt the musical event of the year. The fact that the action takes place in the African American community of South Carolina was a risky bet for the authors who, while introducing references to jazz and blues, were anxious to treat their work in a classic way. The actors indeed evolve in a vocal operatic directory. It is obvious that the choices made by the Gershwin brothers quickly raise a controversy within which the various camps seek to assert their arguments.

The most virulent attacks will concern moreover as much the style as the contents.

Some will not hesitate to speak about a racist

staging of African-Americans whereas others will consider sacrilegious the synthesis operated between the European-style orchestration and sounds borrowed to black music. Duke Ellington himself will not be the last one to denounce a real sham. Anyway, the magic of Summertime, the emblematic lullaby of this opera, will finally overcome reluctances to appear over time among the most performed jazz standards.

Generally speaking, the musical current events of the year mainly focus around the names which introduced the swing fashion. Benny Goodman, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Jimmie Lunceford continue to build their legend. We also find among the best moments of the year Fats Waller who, with this real small marvel that is I believe in miracles, demonstrate his mastery of a brand new instrument, the electric organ invented by certain Laurens Hammond (not to confuse with John Hammond the talent scout who launched especially Billie Holiday's career). This young vocalist is moreover at the moment the heyday of the pianist Teddy Wilson and his musicians. Despite the loss of hi right arm, Wingy Manone uses a prothesis who allows him to wield his trumpet with an amazing ability, operating brilliantly a synthesis between swing music and the exuberance of his hometown, New Orleans. This is also the case of Chick Webb who from the top of his drums proves to be a skilful bandleader and a real discoverer of stars. Proof of this his latest find, some Ella Fitzgerald. Willie Bryant, a native of New Orleans, is also among the most prominent musicians.

In a terribly swing style we find Earl Hines, quite as Louis Prima or The Mills Blue Rhythm Band. Bob Howard brings as for him a touch of humor and lightness in a register where we feel the influence of Louis Armstrong, more than ever inescapable.


In this year 1935, the musicals contain, as usual, their batch of new songs some of which become so fashionable tunes. It is the case of Lullaby of Broadway that performs the charming Wini Shaw in The Gold Diggers of on 1935 and naturally Fred Astaire's songs including the irreplaceable Cheek to cheek, No Strings or Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.


  3   It is not however easy, with his only

voice to get a real place in the orchestras.

Big bands like those of Duke Ellington,

Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson are

in fact reluctant to give too much

importance to vocals. The

instrumentalists take the lion's share in

most of the tracks, giving free rein to the

fancy of their performance and their

improvisations. The sung part is basically

a reminder to discipline that most of all

dislike, preferring sometimes by the way

a scat number. Fletcher Henderson rarely

appeals to singers, even less the Casa Loma Orchestra.

Is it moreover spoken about singer, very few in fact, the term commonly used is the one of " vocalist ".

Among men, if we exclude Fred Astaire who dedicates himself entirely to the film, Bing Crosby  has no true competitor. The novelty is on the side of female singers. Not to mention Shirley Temple who constitutes a case apart or still Billie Holiday who at age 20, has already some experience of the scene, a 13-year-old girl makes now a very noticed entrance, she is called Frances Gumm and freshly arrived in Hollywood from her native Minnesota. She will soon be known under the name of Judy Garland. Earlier in Harlem, on the stage of the Apollo Theater, another girl of barely 18 years has just delighted the public. Life has so far hardly smiled to her but she has on the other hand a very promising talent, she is Ella Fitzgerald.

Other singers confirm as for them their status as Connee Boswell who forsakes her sisters to start in a definitive way a soloist's career. She records in January the very first version of Blue Moon, one of the most famous songs composed by duet Lorenz Hardt and Richard Rodgers. Also included among the highlights voices of the year Mildred Bailey, Frances Langford, Alice Faye or the soprano Irene Dunne.


   5   On March 20, a new broadcast called Your Hit parade starts on the radio. Every Saturday evening, for half an hour appears the ranking of the best sold recorded songs.

A new era begins, with its chart toppers, its progressions, its falls, a trade which bases itself, according to those who present it, on the popular success of a song. Disputed by some, adulated by the others, this weekly ranking is going to stand out over years as the benchmark of popular music.

For year 1935, Your Hit parade establishes the following ranking:

1 - Fred Astaire - Cheek to cheek

2 - Ray Noble - Isle of Capri

3 - The Casa Loma Orchestra -  

When I gew too old to dream

4 - Guy Lombardo - Red Sails In The Sunset

5 - Eddy Duchin - Lovely to look at

6 - Victor Young - She's a Latin from Manhattan

7 - Little Jack Little - I'm in the mood for love


8 - Eddy Duchin - I won't dance

9 - Fats Waller - Truckin'

10 - Bob Crosby - In a little gipsy tea room

George Gershwin

Ella Fitzgerald

   4     Gold Diggers of 1935


The movie credits

Direction and choreography : Busby Berkeley

Screenplay : Robert Lord

Score : Harry Warren and Al Dubin

Actors : Dick Powell, Gloria Stuart, Adolphe

Menjou, Alice Brady


Warner Bros are for the third time on to a good

thing the Gold Diggers. This new part is

directed this time by Busby Berkeleyhimself .

Some artists involved in the adventure of 1933 are

missing however. Dick Powell is there but he gets

a new partner, Gloria Stuart, who has

already several movies to her credit. Come then

Adolphe Menjou in the role of a Russian director

and Alice Brady, a former  silent movies star who

plays the lady patroness asked to oversee this

little world. The scenario combines as it should

be some love affairs which, as of course, will know

a happy outcome before the end of rehearsals.





































 6   Lullaby of Broadway is undoubtedly the most representative sequence regulated in the movie by Busby Berkeley. The song could stand on its own but the stage direction is the subject of a relevant originality. It is a question of illustrating the everyday life of Manhattan, an improbable universe that share in the daytime the working people and at night those who party. Wini Shaw plays in the movie only a supporting role but she forms here the central element of the scene. Everything comes in fact down to a dream taken out perhaps from some smoke of cigarette. Usually used to aggravate the contrasts of black and white, Busby Berkeley favors this time the night atmosphere. The dominant feature is resolutely dark. He describes the world of the city and the opposition between the emptiness and loneliness to the restlessness of the crowd. In the first part, the face of Wini Shaw appears only as a point lost in the middle of a huge black screen, slowly approaching to finish very close-up. The effect of this spectral vision has something disturbing, even alarming. After a symbolic walk among the throng of busy New Yorkers, the camera stealthy follows the heroin in the intimate moments of her life. Needless to recall, the Hays Code bans any deviations to moral rigor.

And after nightfall, it's time to return to party. It is in a monumental but resolutely empty set that begins itself the show. The produced effect is all the more striking as a single couple evolves in a large undulating movement coming to soften the icy geometry of the gigantic architecture. The crowd of the dancers appears suddenly, invading the stage like a real human tide. The choreography gives certainly an idea of recurrence but once again the work of the camera makes it an exceptional moment. Close-up, overhead plans, tilt-ups, travelling platforms, zoomings create a so impressive dynamics as it entails gradually the viewer towards what we could call a while of uncontrollable jubilation, until the unexpected and questionable fall.

   A year of musicals

1935 is particularly rich in quality musicals. After the success achieved the previous year, Shirley Temple converts the try in Curly Top released in July by the 20th Century Fox. She plays it the role of a little orphan well streetwise for her age and performs in particular the famous song Animal Crackers in My Soup written by Ray Henderson, Irving Caesar and Ted Koehler.

Darryl Zanuck produced also for Fox Thanks A Million starring Dick Powell and Ann Dvorak. Paul Whiteman and his pianist Ramona make it an appearance in their own role.


Announced to the brink of bankruptcy, MGM makes a fairly good operation by releasing The Broadway Melody of on 1936. This comedy directed by Roy Del Ruth has for main actors Jack Benny, Robert Taylor and especially Eleanor Powell who is given her first major role. The score due to Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed contains several remarkable songs among which You are my lucky star and especially Broadway Rhythm.

Raoul Walsh directs Every Night at Eight in whom we find George Raft beside Alice Faye and Frances Langford who sings I' m in the mood for love, a pleasant sentimental romance due to Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh that will soon cover Louis Armstrong, Bob Crosby and Little Jack Little.

Archie Mayo directs for the Warner Company  Go into your dance featuring Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler on a score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin.



Jean Harlow appears beside William Powell in Reckless, a Victor Fleming's movie in which she performs the song that gave its title to the film. She is in fact dubbed by the singer Virginia Verrill.









Paramount presents Two for Tonight, a comedy directed by Frank Tuttle whose music is signed Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, starring Bing Crosby and Joan Bennett. Among the songs performed by Bing Crosby, we shall especially retain Without a Word of Warning.

But in this prolific year, it is once more the duo Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers who stands out with two movies of exception Roberta and Top Hat.


Jean Harlow (Virginia Verrill) - Reckless

    8    Irene Dunne

(Louisville (KY) 1898 –

Los Angeles (CA) 1990)

Daughter of the governmental inspector of the fleet of the Mississippi steamers, the young Irene is especially impressed by her mother, a confirmed pianist. She learned to play this instrument and takes singing lessons which                  allow her to appear                    prominently in the choir of the high school of

Madison of which she goes out graduated in 1916. 

She won two years later a competition which opens her the doors of the Chicago Musical College with hopes of a career in opera. She postulates in this purpose at the Metropolitan in New York but her candidacy being unsuccessful, she decides to turn to the operetta. She appears during  the 1920s in several shows on Broadway of which Showboat, a musical written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.

It is actually after she moved for Hollywood that her career really takes shape. She shoots from then on in numerous movies of which the ambitious Cimarron who is worth to her being nominated in 1931 at the Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role.


Distributed by RKO, this musical directed by William E. Seiter has for main actors Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott. It is inspired by the light opera of JΓ©rome Kern and Otto Harbach created in 1933 on Broadway for the New Amsterdam Theater and based on a novel by Alice Duer Miller.

Just the once will not hurt, the action takes place simultaneously in a Parisian fashion house the label of which is Roberta and in a cabaret. Various plots link up the characters, interspersed with a series of songs and dance routines filled as it must be with the class and elegance that suit the social environment in which takes place the movie..

Among the most remarkable songs, let us quote Yesterdays starring Irene Dunne, I'll be hard to handle that dance Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers performing such a tap dance imitating a dialog, I will not dance sung by Ginger Rogers and accompanied on the piano by Fred Astaire, Lovely to look at, starring Irene Dunne and Fred Astaire then the famous Smoke gets in your eyes, sung by Irene Dunne and included in the final choreography by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne are at the heart of the romantic plot. The latter plays StΓ©phanie, the assistant to the boss of the Roberta label who happens to be also an authentic Russian princess in exile. This highly aristocratic relationship justifies the beautiful soprano voice with which she sings Smoke gets in your eyes. Too high-pitched according to some, in charge of a deeply moving emotion with the others, her vocal performance is at least worth to save the contents of a scenario without real surprise and to complete pleasantly the appearances of the duet Rogers-Astaire. See also as a documentary, the show of the evening dresses collection designed by the milliner Bernard Newman, simply remarkable.

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - I won't dance                                                                                    Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - I'll be hard to handle         







        Irene Dunne - Lovely to look at                                                                                                          Irene Dunne - Smoke gets in your eyes























 10        Top Hat

Second movie of the year shot for the RKO starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it is also after The Gay Divorcee the second one directed by Mark Sandrich with the famous pair.

The plot which involves humor, misunderstandings and sentimental story fades gradually in favor of a succession of ethereal dance numbers in which Fred Astaire is literally breathtaking. The movie fits quite logically into a purely stage atmosphere the first purpose of which being to propose to the viewer of the dream and still the dream. Everything is thus idealized, sophisticated in the extreme, aseptic and timeless.

Composed by Irving Berlin, Cheek to cheek  remains naturally the iconic song of the movie. It will soon become an interplanetary success. Most other songs have made this film a classic of musical including an all-time hit like Top Hat, White Tie and Tails and the extraordinary number that Fred Astaire, French-styled and topper screwed onto the head, reaches to fulfil with his firing stick, as well as the Piccolino performed by Ginger Rogers in a Venice all dressed of pasteboard.

Todd Duncan et Ann Brown dans le rΓ΄le de Porgy & Bess (1935)

Porgy and Bess


Porgy, the novel co-written by DuBose Heyward and his wife Dorothy was already the object of a

first show starring Al Jolson presented in 1927 to Guild Theater in New York. Seduced by the topic,

George Gershwin signs in 1933 a contract with the author to make it an opera. He leaves in this 

purpose to work in South Carolina to immerse himself in the atmosphere of the place. The world first 

night takes place on September 30 in the Colonial Theater of Boston and the opera is then presented in 

New York to the Alvin Theater.

Baritone Todd Duncan ( Porgy) and soprano Ann Brown (Bess) both perform main characters. 

The action takes place in a poor suburb of Charleston where lives the African American community 

and tells an unlikely love story between Bess, a young mother married to an abusive man and Porgy, a 

daily "penniless", with for background poverty and violence. Drug, alcohol, murder, jealousy

punctuate this particularly dark fresco whose only hope of redemption is based on the leak. 

It is obvious that the choice of a so sensitive subject could only feed the controversy. 

This one raised about a supposed racist sociological approach of the African-American society, 

systematically associatied to commonplaces such as drugs or violence. 

Gershwin was not unaware of the risk he was taking by creating a work so remote

from conventions


   11     Porgy and Bess

Convinced to create a major event, Gershwin did not hesitate to take 

the risk of incurring the wrath of some and others.

The fact of staging black actors in an exclusive way was already about

a real challenge to white audiences but the music too, should be the 

object of lively debates and sometimes suffer harsh criticisms 

coming in particular from where they were not expected..

Gershwin had been up there a consensual composer of Tin Pan Alley

dosing out his influences in a subtle way and justifying his popularity by 

some works worthy of the classic directory.

The thing was however quite different for Porgy and Bess whose plot 

was happening in an ethnic background expected to have its own musical

culture. For the sake of credibility and while respecting the rules of the

opera, he had to involve to it targeted elements as intonations proper 

to jazz, blues or spirituals.

This commitment could not be to everyone’s taste and especially those 

who felt almost blasphemous that a "white" came shamelessly to appropriate a 

stylistic register at first essentially black. To consider only this aspect, many have

however completely missed Jewish references repeatedly introduced by Gershwin.

The quarrel will take time to dissipate, even if from the next year, Billie Holiday will 

integrate a version resolutely jazz of Summertime into her repertoire.

Duke Ellington will also eventually reconsider the unkind formulas with which he had

swamped the opera at the time of its release. Porgy and Bess will remain however for

George Gershwin the work into which he will have the most invested, the ultimate 

masterpiece of his life.

 12   George Gershwin (1898-1937)

He became famous with Swanee composed in 1919 when he was barely 20. He was therefore going to be on the top line of numerous shows of Broadway for which he was to write with his brother Ira a certain number of hits. The release in 1924 of Rhapsody in Blue, his first classic work composed on request of bandleader Paul Whiteman, was to divide the opinion between those who considered it as a masterpiece worthy of a genius and the others who, in any bad faith, slandered it as a formless music.

Gershwin had indeed a natural gift for music. Nothing predestined him nevertheless for a so brilliant career. Born in New York into a destitute Jewish family of Russian origin, he showed during his childhood little interest for studies. At age 11, however, he started to practice alone on his brother's piano  and began resuming secretly the tunes of the moment. He eventually retained the attention of one of his teachers who disclosed in him a real talent. His parents agreed then to give him lessons which were worth to enable him to acquire a taste for classical music without denying his passion for popular song. It is the reason why he began to attend Tin Pan Alley where there were  most of the music publishers. He got out a pianist contract but was mainly interested in writing. His beginnings were rather difficult until Al Jolson hears a few notes of Swanee and decided to include it into the show Sinbad. It was for Gershwin a first recognition but the introduction in 1924 of Rhapsody in Blue will truly dedicate his popularity. Due to the fact that it operated a synthesis between classical and jazz, this unconventional composition was soon consecrated as the symbol of the modern American music.

Gershwin continued to work for musicals alternating successes and failures. He then put himself in the implementation of an outstanding project, the writing of a modern opera, blending again classical music with jazz, even popular song.

Porgy and Bess was introduced in New York in November, 1935. The event did not go unnoticed, a new legend began. Gershwin's fame had already made of him a star of the worldly society, of Hollywood and press whereas his health became worrisome.


Excerpt of Porgy and BessThere's a boat dat's leaving soon for New York

Recording dated 1989 starring Damon Evans (Sporting Life) and Cynthia Haymon (Bess) - London Philarmonic Orchestra

  13    Frances Langford (Frances Newbern - Lakeland (FL) 1913 – Jensen Beach (FL) 2005)

She has choosen the opera when a tonsils operation deprived her of her soprano voice. Frances turns consequently towards the popular song and occurs in local festivals before being hired in a radio station. She meets there Rudy Vallee and the actor John Hall whom she marries in 1934.

Her career takes then shape with a first appearance in Every night at Eight,

a movie where she performs I' m in the

Mood for Love which will remain her

reference song.

George Gershwin - It ain't necessarily so

Wini Shaw (Winifred Lei Momi -  San Francisco(CA) 1907 – New York (NY ) 1982)

Born in San Francisco in a large family of Hawaiian English origin, Winifred Lei Momi began, child, to play in the vaudeville troupe of her parents. She remained there until they dispersed and went trying her luck in New York where she appeared in particular in the Ziegfeld Follies. Her film career started in contrast relatively late.







After a failure with the Fox, she contracts in 1934 with Warner studios which offer her some supporting roles in musicals. Lullaby of Broadway will remain in fact her most noticeable performance.

 14  Teddy Wilson (Austin (TX) 1912 – New

Britain (CT) 1986)

Having studied piano and violin at the

Tuskegee Institute, a black university of Alabama,

he joins the professional circuit particularly

alongside Louis Armstrong. He also makes

friend with Earl Hines whom he joins at the

Grand Terrace of Chicago. He works in 1933 with

Benny Carter and forms two years later a trio

with Benny Goodman and drummer Gene

Krupa. Teddy Wilson becomes at the same time

the first African American musician to play in

public in a jazz band exclusively made up of white instrumentalists. The contract which he signs in 1935 with Brunswick Records through the producer John Hammond, offers him the opportunity to record a series of songs with Billie Holiday


Wini Shaw - The Lullaby of Broadway

  15   The essential hits of the year (1)

01 – Frances Langford (Frances Newbern - Lakeland (FL) 1913 – Jensen Beach (FL) 2005) –  I’m in the mood for love 2:43 (Jimmie McHugh, Dorothy Fields, George Oppenheimer)

Song introduced by Frances Langford herself in the movie Every Night at Eight also starring Alice Faye.

02 – Teddy Wilson (Austin (TX) 1912 – New Britain (CT) 1986) feat. Billie Holiday (Eleonora Fagan Gough – Baltimore (MD) 1915 -  New York (NY) 1959)  β€“ Miss Brown to you 3:03 (Richard A. Whiting, Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger)

Producer John Hammond has chosen the elite to accompany Billie Holiday: Benny Goodman on clarinet, Roy Elridge on trumpet, Ben Webster, tenor sax, John Truehart on guitar, John Kirby on double bass and Cozy Cole on drums 

03 – Earl Hines (Duquesne (PA) 1903 – Oakland (CA) 1983 ) – Disappointed in love 3:00 (Hines)

04 – Connee Boswell (New Orleans (LA) 1907 – New York (NY) 1976) with Victor Young (Chicago (IL) 1900 – Palm Springs (CA) 1956) – Blue moon  3:06 (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)

Created in 1933, the song remained confidential until Lorenz Hart accpeted to change the lyrics to make it a successful ballad.

05 – Fred Astaire (Frederick Austerlitz – Omaha (NE) 1899 – Los Angeles (CA) 1987) – No strings 3:10 (Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers)

06 – Louis Prima  (New Orleans (LA) 1911 – New Orleans (LA) 1978 ) – Chasing Shadows 3:02 (Benny Davis, Oliver Silver)

07 – Wini Shaw  (Winifred Lei Momi -  San Francisco (CA) 1907 – New York (NY ) 1982) – Lullaby of Broadway 2:46 (Harry Warren, Al Dubin)

08 – Tommy Dorsey  feat. Cliff Weston – Take me back to my boots and saddle 3:09 (Teddy Powell, Walter Samuels, Leonard Whitcup)

09 – Alice Faye (Alice Leppert – New York (NY) 1915 – Rancho Mirage (CA) 1998) – According to the moonlight 4:27 (Jack Yellen, Herbert Magidson, J. Meyer, W. Meyer)

This song was introduced by Alice Faye herself in the movie George White's 1935 Scandals also starring Eleanor Powell.

10 – Louis Armstrong (New Orleans (LA) 1901 – New York (NY) 1970) – Thanks a million 2:42 (Arthur Johnston, Gus Kahn)

11 – Fats Waller (New York (NY) 1904 – Kansas City (MO) 1943) –

A little bit independent  2:56 (Edgar Leslie, Joe Burke)

12 – Wingy Manone (New Orleans 1900 – Las Vegas (NV) 1982) – 
Black coffee
2:51 (Al Hoffman, Maurice Sigler, Al Goodhart)


  16   Alice Faye (Alice Leppert – New York (NY) 1915 – Rancho Mirage (CA) 1998)

This New Yorker born to a father policeman with German roots and to an Irish mother started in theater on the vaudeville stage. Declared too young to be hired in the Ziegfeld Follies, she soon consoles by getting her role on Broadway in the 1931 edition of the George White's Scandals, the rival review. She attends from 1932 till 1934 the Rudy Vallee radio show, The Fleischmann Hour. It is there that she certainly gets acquainted with the actor Phil Harris that she will marry after the failure of her first wedding.

She is chosen in 1935 to replace Lilian Harvey to perform in the film version of George White's Scandals alongside Jimmy Durante and Cliff Edwards. This first big role convinces Darryl Zanuck to hire her for the 20th Century Fox. He will literally transform her into one of the most beautiful faces in Hollywood.

17Wingy Manone (Joseph Matthews Mannone - New Orleans

(LA) 1900 – Las Vegas (NV) 1982)

He is often compared to Louis Prima with whom he shares the same

musical influences. Although he lost the use of an arm further to a

car accident (hence his nickname Wingy), he reaches using

artificial limb to overcome his disability and begins at the age of 17

to play as trumpeter in the regional jazz orchestras.

He forms in 1927 his first band in New Orleans then leaves to

Chicago and to New York where he writes in particular a certain

Tar Paper Stomp whose riff will be later included in the

introduction of the famous In The Mood.






Talented musician but also singer and composer, he records in a regular way from 1934 and distinguishes himself, while showing a constant " Dixieland” reference ", by the recording of only instrumental versions of his tracks reserved to non-English speaking countries, a good way to increase his popularity.

   18   The essential hits of 1935 (2)


01 - Mildred Bailey (Mildred Rinker – Tecoa (WA) 1907 –

Poughkeepsie (NY) 1951) – When day is done 3:29 (Robert

Katscher, Buddy DeSilva)

02 – Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1905 – Greenwich (CT)

1956)  feat. Edythe Wright – Let it be me  (Allie Wrubel, Mort

Dixon) 3:09

 03 – Chick Webb (Baltimore (MD) 1909 – Baltimore (MD) 1939 )

feat. Ella Fitzgerald (New port News (VA) 1917 – Beverly Hills (CA)

1996)– I’ll chase the blues away 2:33 (Edgar Sampson, Kenneth


04 – The Mills Blue Rhythm Band (Formed by Irving Mills in 1931)

– Dinah Lou 2:49 ()

05 – Jimmie Lunceford (Fulton (MS) 1902 – Seaside (OR) 1947 )–  

I’m nuts about screwy music 3:05 (Fred Rose)

06 – Teddy Wilson (Austin (TX) 1912 – New Britain (CT) 1986) & His

Orchestra  with Billie Holiday (Eleonora Fagan Gough – Baltimore

(MD) 1915 – New York (NY) 1959) – Yankee Doodle never went to

town 2:45 (Arthur Freed , Bernie Hanighen)

07 – Louis Prima (New Orleans (LA) 1911 – New Orleans (LA) 1978) –  

Chinatown, my Chinatown 3:10 (Jean Schwartz, Wiliam Jerome)

This song become a standard of jazz  has been written in 1910.

08 – Fats Waller (New York (NY) 1904 – Kansas City (MO) 1943) –

I believe in miracles 2:58 (George W. Meyer, Pete Wending,

Sam M. Lewis)

09 – Frances Langford (Frances Newbern – Lakeland (FL) 1913 –

Jensen Beach (FL) 2005) and Victor Young Orchestra – Was it rain?  3:11 (Lou Handman)

10 – Tommy Dorsey feat. Edythe Wright – I’m shooting high 2:39(Jimmy McHugh, Ted Koehler)

11 – Fred Astaire (Frederick Austerlitz – Omaha (NE) 1899 – Los Angeles (CA) 1987) – Cheek to cheek 3:21(Irving Berlin)

12 – Bing Crosby (Tacoma (WA) 1903 - Madrid (Esp.) 1977) – Red sails in the sunset 3:16 (Hugh Williams, Jimmy Kennedy)

Wingy Manone - Black coffee

    19  Chick Webb (Baltimore (MD) 1909 –

Baltimore (MD) 1939 )

Struck down by tuberculosis during his

childhood, he will keep of it painful

aftereffects throughout his life. Despite the

early stop of his growth and a distorted spine,

the young William already passes at the age

11 to be a blessed drummer. He arrives in

New York in 1926 where he forms his own

band without delay, alternating therefore

tours and appearances in the New Yorker

dance clubs until his is from 1931 permanently

hired at the Savoy Ballroom. Located in

Harlem, this luxury club which can holp up to 4000 people uses to organize competitions between orchestras whose performances are submitted to the vote of the public.



Chick Webb comes out mostly the winner hence his nickname of the first "King of Swing". Finally, it is he who in 1935 launches the career of Ella Fitzgerald introducing her at first as his adopted daughter.

  21   The essential hits of the year (3)


01 – Willie Bryant (New Orleans (LA) 1908 – Los Angeles (CA) 1964) – Steak and potatoes 3:08 (Louis Alter, Lew Brown)

02 – Mildred Bailey (Mildred Rinker – Tecoa (WA) 1907 – Poughkeepsie (NY) 1951) – I’d rather listen to your eyes  3:08 (Al Dubin, Harry Warren)

03 – Ginger Rogers (Virginia McMath – Independence (MO) 1911 – Rancho Mirage (CA) 9951)  – The Piccolino 5:15 (Irving Berlin)

04 – Teddy Wilson (Austin (TX) 1912 – New Britain (CT) 1986) & His Orchestra  with Billie Holiday (Eleonora Fagan Gough – Baltimore (MD) 1915 – New York (NY) 1959) –  I wished on the moon 3:16 (Dorothy Parker, Ralph Rainger)

05 – Benny Goodman (Chicago (IL) 1909 – New York (NY) 1986 ) feat. Helen Ward (New York (NY) 1913 – Arlington (VA) 1998) – Night wind 3:05 (Bob Rothberg, Lew Pollack)

06 – Belle Baker (New York (NY) 1913 – Los Angeles (CA) 1957) & Carroll Gibbons Orchestra  (Eleonora Fagan Gough – Baltimore (MD) 1915 – New York (NY) 1959) – Blue moon 2:45 (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)

07 – Louis Armstrong (New Orleans (LA) 1901 – New York (NY) 197 ) – On treasure Island 3:00 (Joe Burke, Edgar Leslie)

08 – Ethel Merman (Ethel Zimmerman - New York (NY) 1908 – New York (NY) ) – You’re the top 2:16 (Cole Porter)

Song written for the musical Anything Goes released on Broadway in november 1934 starring Ethel Merman, William Gaxton andVictor Moore.

09 – The Mills Brothers (Formed in Cincinnati (OH) 1924) – Sweet Lucy Brown 2:50 (Bernard Reed, Jesse Bolian)

10 – Fats Waller (New York (NY) 1904 – Kansas City (MO) 1943) – Lulu’s back in town 2:38 (Al Dubin, Harry Warren)

Song written for the musical movie Broadway Gondolier directed by Lloyd Bacon starring Dick Powell, Joan Blondell and Adolphe Menjou.

11 – Bob Howard (Howard Joyner – West Newton (MA) 1906 - 1986) – Stay out of love 3:05 (Horace Gerlach, E.P. La Freniere)

12 – Eddy Duchin (Cambridge (MA) 1909 – New York (NY) 1951) – Lovely to look at 3:02 (Jerome Kern, Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh)

Cover of the song introduced by Irene Dunne in Roberta


Chick Webb - I'll chase the Blues away

  20   Ella Fitzgerald (New port News (VA) 1917 – Beverly Hills (CA) 1996)

Her parents having separated shortly after her birth, she went to live with her

mother in Yonkers, New York. Ella dreamt at the time to become a dancer but also listened to jazz singers of the moment and more particularly Connee Boswell to whom she dedicated a strong admiration.

Her life abruptly falls over in 1932 after the sudden death of her mother. Abused by her stepfather then put up at an aunt, she gradually gives up the school and begins to attend the thugs. She is then placed in an orphanage in the

Bronx, next in a training school but she escapes and finds herself a moment homeless.

In 1934, she tries her luck on the occasion of a song contest organized by the Apollo Theater in Harlem. She wins the first prize after performing two tracks of Connee Boswell. Thrilled by her talent, the saxophonist Benny Carter who is this

day present in the room introduces her a few months later to Chick Webb. Without being really impressed by the voice of the young woman, this one agrees however to provide her the opportunity to sing during evening. The magic operates then. Touched by the quality of her diction and her natural ability, he hires her immediately in his band and makes with her a first series of recordings.

   22   Billie Holiday  (Eleonora Fagan Gough – Baltimore (MD) 1915 – New York (NY) 1959)

The little Eleonora Fagan almost never sees her father who plays  jazz in nightclubs and escapes in the early morning to one day disappear for good whereas Sadie, her mother, lives on casual jobs entrusting for day her daughter to her family. She will keep from her childhood fearsome images as the sudden death of her grandmother while she held her in the arms or when she was raped by a pedophile uncle. Sadie eventually leaves Baltimore and takes her daughter to live with her in New York. She is practically raised in a brothel whereas her mother prostitutes herself. The young

Eleonora learns to become familiar to

this chaotic environment over which reigns

the Mob and where the violence daily rages. 

She finds herself even a moment in prison.

She moreover sometimes frequents speakeasies,

these clandestine establishments where alcohol

is consumed while listening to jazz musicians.

It is in one of these places that she meets

Kenneth Hollon, a young saxophonist with

whom she obtains at the age 15, a first hiring.

She takes then Billie Holiday's stage name and

does not delay coming across the producer

John Hammond who in 1933, suggests her to

perform a recording session in the studios of

Columbia together with a young promising

clarinetist named Benny Goodman.

She receives in return a meager $ 35 fee but this

rather successful performance is soon worth to her singing with the band of Fletcher Henderson then beside Duke Ellington. She starts in this opportunity an affair with the saxophonist Ben Webster.

In 1935, John Hammond is back to her for a new series of recordings with Benny Goodman and the pianist Teddy Wilson. The success does not delay, Miss Brown to You appears among the best-selling records of the year.

Perhaps it became obvious, but one can never say how much the influence of Billie Holiday was determining on the jazz song. She modeled at first her musical personality on that of Bessie Smith whose she admired the ability to focus attention and then quickly asserted herself by the particular timbre of her voice and the way she appropriated lyrics. She got rid of the secondary role which the bands reserved then to singers to play a central role while putting instruments in her service. She was able, on the other hand, to put at her disposal the wonderful tool which is the microphone for creating a profoundly intimate atmosphere. It allowed her to strengthen the emotion and to add in a way of the substance where predominated form. She ultimately completed the singer's status by performing as an actress in a drama that she wanted, through her voice,  share live with her audience.

23   Bob Howard (Howard Joyner – West Newton (MA) 1906 - 1986)

After his studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, he moves to New York where he first works as a pianist in the vaudeville shows before being known next to numerous radio broadcasts. Widely influenced by Fats Waller, he has the voice and qualities of a true " showman " , attracting to him the favors of a wide audience even if his style is sometimes lacking originality.

He records in the time for Decca with some renowned musicians such as Benny Carter, Bunny Berigan, Teddy Bunn or still Teddy Wilson.

   24     Eddy Duchin (Cambridge (MA) 1909 – New York (NY) 1951)

He completed his pharmacy studies when he decided that a musical career would suit him better. He thus began in 1928 as a pianist in the band of Leo Reisman where he fast got noticed by his elegance and the sobriety of his style. Refusing to yeld to the influence of jazz and obviously little gifted to become a real virtuoso, he compensated his technical shortcomings by offering a minimalist style of great fluidity. We consider him as such as the initiator of the so-called "sweet music".

His growing popularity was worth to him to replace in 1931 Leo Reisman at the head of the orchestra of the Central Park Casino in New York. He also enjoyed a large audience due to his participation in many radio programs.

In 1956 was released The Eddy Duchin Story, a movie depincting the life of the artist, directed by George Sidney starring Tyrone Power and Kim Novak.

Teddy Wilson & Billie Holiday - Miss Brown to you

          25   The essential hits of 1935 (4)








01 – Teddy Wilson (New Orleans (LA) 1908 – Los Angeles (CA) 1964) &

His Orchestra  with Billie Holiday (Eleonora Fagan Gough –

Baltimore (MD) 1915 – New York (NY) 1959) – If you were mine 3:15

(Johnny Mercer, Matty Malneck)

02 – Wingy Manone (Joseph Matthews Manone - New Orleans (LA)

1900 – Las Vegas (NV) 1982) Let’s swing it  2:30 ()

03 – The Boswell Sisters (formed in New Orleans (LA) , 1925) with  

Jimmy Grier & His OrchestraThe object of my affection  3:24

(Coy Poe, Jimmy Grier & His Orchestra, Pinky Tomlin)

Song ranked  number 1 of the sales during the year

04 – Fats Waller  (New York (NY) 1904 – Kansas City (MO) 1943 )  

Truckin’ 3:22 (Rube Bloom, Ted Koehler)

05 – Louis Armstrong (New Orleans (LA) 1901 – New York (NY)

1971 ) I’m in the mood for love 3:12 (Dorothy Fields, Jimmy


06 – Ozzie Nelson (Jersey City (NJ) 1906 – Los Angeles (CA) 1975)  

And then some 3:22 (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers)

07 – Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah (PA) 1905 – Greenwich (CT) 1956)

 feat. Edythe Wright The music goes round and round 3:20

(Mike Riley, Red Hodgson)



08 – Bob Howard (Howard Joyner – West Newton (MA) 1906 - 1986)In a little gipsy tea room 2:26 (Joe Burke, Edgar Leslie)

09 – Eddy Duchin (Cambridge (MA) 1909 – New York (NY) 1951)You are my lucky star 2:50 (Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed)

Song introduced by Frances Langford and Eleanor Powell in The Broadway Melody of 1936, a MGM musical movie directed by Roy Del Ruth.

10 – Enric Madriguera (Barcelona (Esp) 1904 – Danbury (CT) 1973) – Blow, Gabriel, blow 2:47 (Cole Porter)

11 – Benny Goodman (Chicago (IL) 1909 – New York (NY) 1986 ) feat. Helen Ward (New York (NY) 1913 – Arlington (VA) 1998) Eeny Meeny Miney Mo 1:57 (Johnny

Mercer, Matty Malneck)

This song recalling a famous children's counting rhyme has just been put back fashionably courtesy of Rudyard Kipling in his Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides published in 1935

12 – Ramona Davies (Cambridge (MA) 1909 – New York (NY) 1951) – I can’t give you anything but love 2:51 (Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh)

   26      Blues : going up the Mississippi


The year is unfortunately marked by the untimely death of one of the most promising talents of his generation: Leroy Carr dies at just 30 years, wasted away through the effects of alcohol. His short and brilliant career, however, allowed to lay the foundations for a more urban blues, approachable to a widened audience.

Chicago continues to exert its attraction power on bluesmen. It abounds in clubs where people meet in the dark night to play music and drink. There is an atmosphere of freedom which cannot be found in other cities. As to say it is easier to succeed, certainly not but life is less difficult than in the Southern states. For many bluesmen however, the career begins in the street, the first place where to draw attention when you have talent. It is not easy, actually to win a contract in a club and it is not enough to reproduce with dexterity the songs of others, still is it necessary to show originality.


Who can record in Chicago? After having worked for years at Paramount, producer Mayo Williams is an awesome talent scout. After the slump of the Great Depression, he knows how to make come the elite starting with the veteran Big Bill Broonzy. We also find Tampa Red, Peetie Wheatstraw just landed from St Louis, the Mc Coy brothers, Memphis Minnie, Kokomo Arnold or Bumble Bee Slim. All of them begin to have a certain practice of studios in particular those of Bluebird which, thanks to the dynamism of his producer Lester Melrose, is conquering wide market shares.

A good part of talents have left the South for the big Northern cities. But then, what remains of the culture of the Mississippi Delta since the death of Charley Patton? Son House is faithful to his area but has been silent for now five years and he does not feel ready to make new recordings. There are, however, some interesting personalities like Sleepy John Estes moved to Memphis, Big Joe Williams recently settled in St Louis or Leadbelly who, after being set free from the jail in Louisiana where he was moldering can finally show the powerful character of his style.

Walter Davis has left his native Mississippi for St Louis where he has met Henry Townsend, a young guitarist native as him of the South and who also plays the piano. Together they formed a group which finds gradually its place in the local musical scene. On the other hand, Buddy Moss who was one year earlier the artist whose records were selling best sees his career undergoing a rough stop due to an involvement in a murder case which leads him to prison.

The road until the recognition is undoubtedly long and narrow when you chose blues. It is often necessary to be around 30 before being lucky enough to record in studio. Let us think simply that Leadbelly has just gone out of the anonymity when he was 47 years old. The revelation of the year comes from North Carolina. Blind Boy Fuller who, at nearly 30, asserts himself with his National Steel as the most prominent representative of the Piedmont Blues, a very popular genre in recent years.


Peetie Wheatstraw (Ripley (TN )1902 – East St Louis (IL) 1941)

Of his real name William Bunch, he left his native Arkansas (although he claimed to be native from Tennessee) for St Louis in the late 20s. He is often officially represented with a guitar but it is especially as pianist that he becomes popular. He characterizes himself by a direct style, not hesitating to proclaim being the son of the devil. His lyrics are generally committed and his performances powerful. On the other hand his voice is described "lazy" because of mushy diction.

   27    Blues: the selection of the year


01 – Big Bill Broonzy (Scott (MS) 1893 – Chicago (IL) 1958) – Southern blues 3:35

(Bill Broonzy)

02 – Big Joe Williams (Crawford (MS) 1903 – 1982) -  Baby , please don’t go  3:25


03 – Henry Townsend (Shelby (MS) 1909 – Mequon (WI) 2006 ) – She’s got a mean

disposition  3:16 (Townsend)

04 – Blind Willie McTell (Thomson (GA) 1901 – Almon (GA) 1959 ) with Ruby Glaze

(Ruthy Kate Williams–  Dying gambler 3:02 (McTell)

05 – Kokomo Arnold (James Arnold – lovejoys Station (GA) 1901 – Chicago (IL ) 1968 ) –  

Chain gang blues 3:04 (Arnold)

06 – Bessie Jackson (Lucille Bogan Anderson - Amory (MS) 1898 – Los Angeles (CA) 1948)

– Skin game blues 2:57 (Bogan)

07 – Leroy Carr (Nashville (TN) 1905 – Indianapolis (IN) 1935)  β€“ Six cold feet in the ground

  3:03 (Carr)

08 – Memphis Minnie (Lizzie Douglas -  Algiers (LA) 1897 –Memphis (TN) 1973) –   

Hustlin’ woman blues 2:54 (McCoy)

09 – Peetie Wheatstraw (William Bunch – Ripley (TN )1902 – East St Louis (IL) 1941) –

Cake Alley 3:03 (Bunch)

10 – The Mississippi Moaner (Isaiah Nettles) – Mississippi moan 2:29 ()

11 – Sleepy John Estes (Ripley (TN) 1899 - Brownsville (TN) 1977) –  

Someday baby blues 3:00 (Nixon? John Estes)

12 – Walter Davis (Granada (MS) 1912 – St Louis (MO) 1963) – Ashes in my whiskey 2:37 (Davis)

13 – Josh White (Greensboro (NC) 1914 – Manhasset (NY) 1969) – Jet black woman 2:29 (White)

14 – Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter -Mooringsport (LA) 1888 6 New York (NY) 1949) – Dallas and Fort Worth blues 3:04 (Leadbelly, Lomax)

15 – Blind Boy Fuller (Fulton Allen - Wadesboro (NC) 1907 – Durham (NC) 1941) – Evil hearted woman 3:06 (Boy Fuller)

  28   The Western swing, or the jazz-polka of the Old West


Appeared to the end of the 20s, this musical genre mainly developed in the southern and western states such as Texas, Oklahoma and California where it knows a real craze. Powered by string orchestras, it is characterized by a steady and fast rhythm making it more a dance music inspired by the polka. It is rightly regarded as an eclectic style consisted of elements borrowed from the traditional Anglo-Saxon, Scottish or Irish music (folk song) but especially from jazz, cowboy song (Spanish-Mexican inspired ballads) and swing.

Unlike Country Music (then more commonly called hillbilly blues) whose origins lie in the Appalachians, the roots of the Western swing are found essentially in the states which marked the conquest of the West. It constitutes in fact a distant echo of the pioneers and their caravans of wagons which found themselves in the evening around a campfire to dance and sing to the sound of fiddle, guitar or harmonica. The symbol of this epic remains obviously the character of the cowboy in all its aspects, brave, quarrelsome, wittingly lonesome and without ties other than those of the great outdoors, lover of pretty women and a bit romantic.

Among the first representatives of the Western Swing emerges prominently the guitarist  Bill Boyd (Fannin County, (TX) on 1910 - Dallas (TX) 1977) who makes his first recordings in 1932 together with Jimmie Rodgers shortly before to form his  band under the name of the Cowboys Ramblers. He knows his first big hit in 1935 with an instrumental classic: Under The Double Eagle. Bob Wills and Milton Brown also argue in 1935 as two real stars of the Western Swing. 

Bill Boyd

  29    "Hillbilly" and"Western" : The essential hits of 1935

01 – Gene Autry (Tioga (TX) 1907 – Los Angeles (CA) 1998) – Tumbling Tumbleweeds  

3:25 (Bob Nolan)

This iconicΒ« cowboy Β» song was initially performed by Gene Autry in the movie of 

the same title directed by Joseph Kane.

02 – Patsy Montana (Ruby Rose Blevins – Hot Springs (AR) 1908 – San Jacinto (CA) 1996)

– I want to be a cowboy’s sweetheart  3:07 (Montana)

03 – The Shelton Brothers (formed  in  Relly Springs (TX) by Joe & Bob Atllesey) – Just

because nΒ°3  3:03 (Attlesey)

04 – The Monroe Brothers (Bill Monroe  (Rosine (KY) 1911 – Springfield (TN) 1996 / Charlie

Monroe (Rosine (KY) 1901- Reidsville (NC) 1975) – What would you give in exchange for

your soul  3:10 (Monroe)

05 – Cliff Carlisle (Clifford Carlisle – Taylorsville (KY) 1904 – Lexington (KY) 1983) – My

rockin’ mama  3:40 (Carlisle)

06 – The Delmore Brothers (formed in Elkmont (AL) 1926) – Blow your whistle, freight

train  2:52 (Delmore)

07 – The Carter Family (Formed in Virginia , 1926) – Can the circle be unbroken 3:08 (Carter)

08 – Bob Wills  (Kosse (TX) 1905 – Fort Worth (TX) 1975) & His Texas

Playboys – Right or wrong 2:56 (Arthur Sizemore, Paul Biese,

Haven Gillespie)

Written in 1921, this jazz style ballad had already been the object

of numerous covers before Bob Wills makes it a success of the

Western swing

09 – Hank Snow (Clarence Eugene Snow  - Brooklyn (Novas Scotia

CAN) 1914 – Madison  (TN) 1999) – Lonesome blue yodel 3:07 (Snow)

Having been ship’s boy from the age of 12 years, he decided to

become a singer while listening to Jimmie Rodgers's records.

Accompanied with his guitar, he occurs at first in the clubs of

Halifax before auditioning in 1935 in the RCA Victor studios

settled in Montreal.

10 – The J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers  (Joseph Emmett Mainer –

Weaverville (NC) 1898 - Ripley (TN) 1898 – 1971) – Maple on the

hill 2:48 (Traditional)

Having been known on the radios of North Carolina, the

group consisted of J.E. Mainer on fiddle, of his brother Wade

on banjo, Zeke Morris on guitar and the singer Daddy

John Love. The band comes to sign his first recording contract

with Bluebird.

11 – The Light Crust Doughboys  (formed in Saginaw (TX) 1931) –

Guf Coast blues 2:46 (Clarence Williams)

Sponsored by the Burus Mills, the group consists originally

of Bob Wills, Milton Brown, of vocalist Tommy Duncan

(Hillsboro (TX) 1911 - San Diego (CA) 1967) and of 

fiddler Cecil Bower. None of them appears more in 1935.

12 – Milton Brown (Stephenville (TX) 1903 – Crystal Springs (TX) 1936) & His Brownies  – Down by the Ohio 2:50 (Abe Olman, Jack Yellen)

Cover of a song introduced in 1920

    30   Patsy Montana, the Cowboy's Sweetheart

Ruby Rose Belvins (Beaudry (AR) 1908 - San Jacinto (CA) 1996)

Native of Arkansas, the little Ruby is noted for her early musician's talents. She went to study the violin at the University of California but it is however due to the quality of her voice and her guitar playing that she won her first contest. This victory allows her to be programed on the radio together with Stuart Hamblen, one of the stars of the western music.

Back in Arkansas, she makes  in 1932 Jimmie Davis's acquaintance who offers her to be included in his recordings. She appears however only discreetly in the background voices singing yodeling.

Her career really starts in the summer, 1933 during an audition in a Chicago studio. She manages to seduce the ear of the producer who hires her in the Kentucky Ramblers, a group consisted of four singers which is soon going to take the name of Prairie Ramblers. Patsy Montana joins with them oftentimes in the National Barn Dance which is on WLS, a very popular radio station in Chicago, and makes a series of recordings for RCA and Decca. This is the way she releases in 1935 her first hit  I want to be a cowboy's sweetheart whose sales will reach the million copies. The song which emphasizes in particular her extraordinary ability to yodeling, will remain her trademark throughout her career.

Patsy Montana & The Prairie Ramblers

Patsy Montana - I want to be a cowboy's sweetheart

 31    Cliff Carlisle (Clifford Carlisle – Taylorsville (KY) 1904 – Lexington (KY) 1983)

He is not a newcomer to the stage. It indeed has been more than fifteen years since with his friend guitarist and harmonicist Walter Ball, he travels around the country singing in the circuses or vaudeville. The duet took part in his first radio show in Louisville in 1930, getting at the same time a local notoriety.

He records the next year together with Jimmie Rodgers and signs a first contract with ARC which leads him to be part of radio shows as much in North Carolina as in Chicago or Cincinnati. His brother Bill replaces Walter Ball on guitar after the leaving of the latter in 1934.

Prolific author, Cliff Carlisle was also reported by the sexual connotations or the bawdy side of some of his songs.


Bob Wills (Kosse (TX) 1905 – Fort Worth (TX) 1975)

He has been dubbed the King of the Western Swing,

a musical genre generally played by a string band

combining traditional tunes, folk, cowboy style, 

rhythm of the polka and references to jazz and blues.

Born into a farmers' family, he learns from his

childhood to play the fiddle, an instrument practiced

by his father, and forms together with his brothers

and sisters a small band which performs in the balls

of Limestone County. He completes his musical

culture in the contact of the African-American workers

who grow the cotton fields of the neighborhood and

learns in particular to sing blues. He leaves his parents

in the age of 16, hoping to live on his music but he first must be satisfied with small jobs. This is the way he becomes a hairdresser, he plays in medicine shows where he performs sometimes in blackface make-up. He finally manages to stand out thanks to his ability to create ambience.

Settled in Fort Worth in 1929, he records his first songs and forms on one year later The Light Crust Doughboys soon sponsored by the Burus Mills, an important company which possesses the billionaire W. Lee O' Daniel (who will be afterward a governor of Texas). Among the members of the band is featured in particular the vocalist Milton Brown. The adventure runs fast short enough and Bob Wills founds in 1934 the Texas Playboys with Tommy Duncan (piano, vocals), June Whalin (rhythmic guitar), Johnny Lee Wills

(banjo) and Kermit Whalin (bass, steel guitar).

Forced to leave Texas further to trouble with his former sponsor,

he settles down in Oklahoma City then to Tulsa where he becomes

fast thanks to his radio shows, a true regional institution. He adds

in 1935 a trombone and a saxophone to his orchestra and takes on

later Leon McAuliffe, an ace of the Dobro guitar.

   32    The Shelton Brothers (Joe Attlesey (Relly Springs (TX) 1911 – 1980) / Bob Atllesey (Relly Springs (TX) 1909 – 1983)

With Joe on mandolin and Bob on guitar and fiddle, the brothers form since the 20s a duet drawing its inspiration from artists' repertoire such as Peg Moreland and Jimmie Rodgers. They roam Texas before appointing the services of guitarist Leon Chappelear and leaving in 1933 to Chicago for a recording session in the Bluebird's studios.

Milton Brown (Stephenville (TX) 1903 – Fort Worth (TX) 1936)

Dubbed, the Father of the Western Swing, his musical career really starts in 1930 further to his meeting in Fort Worth with the fiddler Bob Wills. Impressed by his voice, Wills suggests him to join his group and hires him as a vocalist. The band travels Texas and occurs in balls or medicine-shows. Renamed The Light Crust Doughboys, Wills and Brown sign in 1931 a major sponsorship contract with the wealthy industrialist W. Lee O' Daniel allowing them to take part in numerous radio broadcasts. The success is immediate and the Doughboys do not hesitate to round out their repertoire with songs of jazz, blues or cowboys style, an eclectic choice which increases the audience. In September 1932, claiming to be poorly paid, Milton Brown gets angry with O'Daniel and decides to leave the group. He founds shortly after his own band named the Brownies enhancing the spirit of Western swing with a style both more rhythmic and dancing. He knows with his group an impressive success, attracting crowds at every performance.

In 1934, all his recordings for Bluebird become immediately hits but Milton Brown wants to go even farther by suggesting to the guitarist Bob Dunn to join him with the instrument that he has just finalized and which foreshadows the electric guitar. The produced sound allows him to perform soloes of a totally new kind which will become somehow the signing of Country Music.

Milton Brown has become in 1935 the most popular artist of Texas. All his recordings are released one after the other as singles, constantly increasing his popularity. In March, 1936, he will record for Decca not less than 50 new songs in New Orleans, shortly before that a terrible car crash puts end to his amazing adventure.


Milton Brown & His Brownies

On the borders of blues and boogie-woogie


 33   Cripple Clarence Lofton (Albert Clemens - Kingsport (TN) 1887 – Chicago (IL) 1957)

He started his career as a tap dancer before heading to blues and its most dynamic form, boogie-woogie. Endowed with a remarkable scenic energy, he completes his musical performances by dance numbers and the fancier animations which sometimes baffle the public. He is especially appreciated for his way of snapping fingers to strengthen the tempo and the virtuosity of his piano playing combining mimes and acrobatics. He settled down in Chicago but despite the local enthusiasm for this musical genre, he fails to have the deserved recognition and remains long in the shadow. He has to wait to reach 50 and to get Big Bill Broonzy's support to make his first recording. Released in 1935 by Vocalion, his first album will finally reveal the extraordinary modernity of his style.




Strut that thing (Idon’t know) 2:51 (Clemens) -  recorded with "Red" Nelson on washboard

Cripple Clarence Lofton - Strut that thing

42nd-street.fr - Gerard Tondu

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