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Bob Crosby

Bob Crosby, Bing's younger brother, often found himself in the odd position of being the least important member of his own orchestra. Indeed, he couldn't play an instrument or read a note of music, which didn't stop him from enjoying a long career in music, in that very odd position. He was born George Robert Crosby in Spokane, Washington, in 1913, and like his older brother, he did start out on a conventional career path, attending college, and like brother Bing, he also dropped out of college in favor of getting work as a singer. Actually, it was a somewhat less direct route from student to crooner, as Crosby was, by his own account, supporting himself picking cucumbers in Spokane when bandleader Anson Weeks tapped him for the singer spot in his band, where he remained for two years, from 1932 through 1934. Those were tough years, as the effects of the Great Depression swelled and lingered, and it was good to have a steady gig, especially as he learned a lot about vocalizing during this period; he jumped to a six-month stay with the Dorsey Brothers' band in 1934, and then, in 1935, fate took a hand.

A group of musicians working for bandleader Ben Pollack had quit en masse and organized themselves under the direction of saxophonist Gil Rodin, as a cooperative venture, with all of the members owning an equal share in the group -- the Casa Loma Orchestra had done the same thing at the start of the decade and were reaping big rewards, and this group had at least as much talent as the Casa Lomans did. What they needed was a vocalist who could also provide them with a name and personality that the public could appreciate; ironically, it was "Cork" O'Keefe, their agent -- who'd also played a key role in organizing the Casa Lomans -- who steered them toward Bob Crosby. He could, by then, sing in a winning, popular style, at his best moments nearly as well as his brother -- and Bing Crosby by then was selling enough 78s to turn newly established Decca Records into a major label -- and he had a personality that the listening public liked. And he had an unassuming ego that allowed him, even as the presumptive "leader," to yield center stage to the various soloists, which included trumpet man Yank Lawson, clarinetist Matty Matlock (later succeeded by Irving Fazola), and saxman Eddie Miller, and to top it off, they had Ray Bauduc, no less, as their drummer.

In the middle of that company was Crosby, an OK singer who held the popular audience. The band had its feet planted astride two -- or three -- musical worlds; Crosby's singing gave them their pop side and their personality, while arranger Bob Haggart (and, later, Matlock as well) wrote charts that were as contemporary as any jazz of the second half of the '30s; but the band also kept some aspects of its sound rooted in familiar '20s attributes, and their devotion to Dixieland jazz was unmistakable (especially with Miller, Bauduc, and Nappy Lamare, New Orleans natives all, in the lineup). Eventually, the Bobcats -- or, sometimes, Bob Cats -- coalesced from within the larger orchestra; a Dixieland octet, they proved phenomenally popular in their own right.

The 1935-1942 period was Crosby's heyday, with his band featuring such classic soloists as Billy Butterfield, Joe Sullivan, Bob Zurke, Jess Stacy, and Muggsy Spanier. During an era when swing was the thing and New Orleans jazz was considered by many to be ancient history, Crosby's crew led the way to the eventual New Orleans revival. Such classic recordings as "South Rampart Street Parade" and "What's New" (both composed by bassist Haggart), along with the many Dixieland stomps, kept the band quite popular. The other secret to their success was the radio: in the late winter of 1938, the orchestra got a gig at the Blackhawk Restaurant in Chicago, which included 11 national broadcasts each week and gave them all of the exposure they needed. Fans of their Dixieland sound rallied to the call and orders for their recordings soared; their subsequent performances on the Camel Caravan show proved just as important in carrying them to the end of the decade. And it didn't hurt that the orchestra was nearly as fortunate in its choice of female singers as it had been in finding Crosby: Doris Day (who left because the 17-year-old was overwhelmed by the ungentlemanly antics of the members, finding a safer haven with Les Brown) and Kay Starr were among the distaff luminaries who sang with them. Crosby also made movies with the band. Though he was never remotely the screen presence that his brother was, Bob Crosby and his band showed up in performance clips in movies such as Columbia's Reveille with Beverly, and he got to do some acting (while the band was featured several times) in Republic's Sis Hopkins, and they played on the soundtrack to the Paramount production Holiday Inn, one of the most popular musicals of the early '40s (and the film that introduced the song "White Christmas").

The orchestra broke up in September of 1942, and Crosby served in the Marines during 1944-1945, and then spent the rest of his life in a variety of activities, often bringing back versions of the Bobcats for special concerts and recordings, taking an occasional vocal but mostly letting his sidemen play. Bob Crosby passed away in 1993, and in the years since many of his best recordings have remained in print on CD. Indeed, the existence of several CD anthologies covering the Crosby orchestra's and the Bobcats' seven-year history is testimony to the continuing popularity of their brand of music; similarly, the showings of the Crosby-featured (or co-starring) movies Reveille with Beverly (1944) and Sis Hopkins (1942) at New York's Film Forum in 2007 proved to be among the most heavily attended of the theater's three-week "B-musicals" series. ~ Scott Yanow & Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bob Crosby and His Orchestra-1938

1. South Rampart Street Parade

2. More Than Ever

3. College Swing

4. Please Be Kind

5. You're an Education

6. Sugar Foot Strut

7. Always and Always

8. It's Easier Said Than Done

9. The Old Apple Tree

10. D Natural Blues

11. Silhouetted in the Moonlight

12. In a Minor Wood

13. It's a Wonderful World

14. How'dja Like to Love Me

15. Little Rock Getaway

16. The One I Love (Will Come Along Some Day)

17. In the Shade of the New Apple Tree

18. At the Jazz Band Ball

x

Track List: Volume 18

1. Don't Call Me Boy

2. Take Me Back Again

3. I'll Come Back To You

4. You're Bound To Look Like A Monkey

5. Gone But Not Forgotten

6. Do You Know Why?

7. Isn't That Just Like Love

8. The Mark Hop

10. The Big Noise From Winnetka

11. Something I Dreamed, No Doubt

12. Chick-Ee-Chick

13. Blue Echoes

14. Until You Fall In Love

x

Track List: Swing Essentials Vol 4 - Bing Crosby And His Orchestra

1. Don't Call Me Boy

2. You're Bound To Look Like A Monkey

3. Burnin' The Candle At Both Ends

4. Something I Dreamed, No Doubt

5. Big Noise From Winnetka

6. San Antonio Rose

7. Blue Echoes

8. Gone But Not Forgotten

9. Chick EE Chick

10. Pale Moon

11. Christmas Greeting

12. Until You Fall In Love

13. Take Me Back Again

14. Yes Indeed

15. I'll Come Back To You

16. Tea For Two

17. Do You Know Why

18. Isn't That Just Like Love

19. Dolores

20. Much More Lovely

21. The Mark Hop

22. It Makes No Difference Now

x

Track List: Greatest Of Big Bands Vol 1, Bob Crosby Part 1

1. Dixie Land Shuffle

2. Come Back Sweet Papa

3. Sugar Foot Sikut

4. Savoy Blues

5. The Old Spinning Wheels

6. Gin Mall Blues

7. South Rampart Steeet Paradise

8. Dogtown Clues

9. Panama

10. Wolverine Blues

11. Yancey Special

12. Louise Louise

x

Track List: Greatest Of Big Bands Vol 1 - Bob Crosby - Part 2

1. Milk Cow Blues

2. Tea For Two

3. In Prayin Humble

4. In Free (What's New)

5. Honkey Tonk Train Blues

6. My Inspiration

7. Stomp Off Lets Go

8. Song Of The Wanderer

9. When The Red Red Robin

10. Boogie Woogie Maxie

11. Air Mail Stomp

12. Sugar Foot Stomp

x

Track List: 1937/40 Broadcasts

1. Introduction (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

2. In A Minor Mood (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

3. Dogtown Blues (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

4. Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

5. Just Strollin' (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

6. South Rampart Street Parade (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

7. Gin Mill Blues (Swing Concert Congress Hotel Chicago April 18, 1937)

8. Howdja Like To Love Me (1938 Film Short)

9. Pagan Love Song (1938 Film Short)

10. Complanin' (1940 Blackhawk Restaurant Chicago)

11. In The Mood (1940 Blackhawk Restaurant Chicago)

12. Wolverine Blues (Slight Flaw In Master) (1940 Blackhawk Restaurant Chicago)

13. Boogie Woogie Maxxie (1940 Blackhawk Restaurant Chicago)

14. Jazz Me Blues (1940 Blackhawk Restaurant Chicago)

15. Sugar Foot Stomp / Broadcast Closing (1940 Blackhawk Restaurant Chicago)

x

Track List: Transcription Sessions 1936 - Vol. 1

1. Summertime

2. Ol' Man Mose

3. The Touch Of Your Lips

4. I Don't Want To Make History

5. It's Been So Long

6. In A Sentimental Mood

7. Somebody Ought To Be Told

8. Alone

9. Here Comes Your Pappy

10. Island In The West Indies

11. Wake Up And Sing

12. Let's Face The Music And Dance

13. I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

14. At The Codfish Ball

15. What's The Name Of That Song?

16. Looka-There, Ain't She Pretty?

17. A Melody From The Sky

18. Time On My Hands

19. Savoy Blues

20. I'm Coming Virginia

x

Track List: Camel Caravan Broadcasts 1940

1. Opening

2. I've Got My Eyes On You

3. The Skater's Waltz

4. I'll Never Be The Same (2006)

5. Sweet Potato Piper

6. My Inspiration (2006)

7. Tuxedo Junction

8. High Society (2008)

9. Summertime - Closing

10. Opening

11. Sweet Georgia Brown

12. A Nightingale Sang In Berkekey Square

13. Frenesi

14. Drummer Boy

15. Exactly Like You

16. That's What I'm Talking About, Mama

17. You're Nearer

18. Royal Garden Blues (2006)

19. Summertime - Closing

x

Track List: Big Band Dixieland

1. Come Back, Sweet Papa

2. Sugar Foot Strut

3. Savoy Blues

4. Royal Garden Blues

5. The Old Spinning Wheel

6. Gin Mill Blues

7. Little Rock Getaway

8. Vieni, Vieni

9. South Rampart Street Parade

10. Panama

11. Wolverine Blues

12. At The Jazz Band Ball

14. Loopin' The Loop

15. Skaters Waltz (In Springtime)

16. Smokey Mary

17. The Song Of The Wanderer

18. Boogie Woogie Maxixe

19. High Society

20. Air Mail Stomp

22. Over The Waves

23. Ja Da

x

Track List: The Great Bob Crosby: Dixieland Favorites

1. Big Noise From Winnetka

2. Washington And Lee Swing

3. Ghost Of A Chance

4. Sugarfoot Stomp

5. Stomp, Mr. Henry

6. March Of The Mustangs

7. High Society

8. Mississippi Mud

9. What's New

10. On The Alamo

11. San Antonio Shout

12. March Of The Bob Cats

x

Track List: 1939-42 Broadcasts

1. Introduction (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

2. Jersey Bounce (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

3. The Last Call For Love (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

4. Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

5. Brass Boogie (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

6. Smokey Mary (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

7. Royal Garden Blues (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

8. Bashful Baby Blues (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

9. Bayou Brakedown (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

10. Digga Digga Doo (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

11. Somebody Loves Me (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

12. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

13. I Wish I Cound Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

14. I've Found A New Baby (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

15. Sugar Foot Strut (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

16. I Know That You Know (Fitch Bandwagon Hollywood May 23, 1942)

17. Program Introduction (Spotlight Bands Williamsport, PA December 3, 1942)

18. King Porter Stomp (Spotlight Bands Williamsport, PA December 3, 1942)

19. Moonlight Becomes You (Spotlight Bands Williamsport, PA December 3, 1942)

20. It's A Long Long Way To Tipperary (Spotlight Bands Williamsport, PA December 3, 1942)

21. Pardise (Spotlight Bands Williamsport, PA December 3, 1942)

22. One O'Clock Jump (Spotlight Bands Williamsport, PA December 3, 1942)

x

Track List: South Rampart Street Parade

1. Dixieland Shuffle

2. Royal Garden Blues

3. The Old Spinning Wheel

4. Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

5. Little Rock Getaway

6. South Rampart Street Parade

7. Dogtown Blues

8. Panama

9. Wolverine Blues

10. Big Noise From Winnetka (1938)

11. Swingin' At The Sugar Bowl

12. I'm Prayin' Humble

13. I'm Free (What's New)

14. My Inspiration

15. The Skaters' Waltz (In Swingtime)

16. Air Mail Stomp

17. Complainin'

18. Jimtown Blues

19. Milenberg Joys

20. Chain Gang

x

Track List: The Bob Crosby Orchestra

1. It Had To Be You

2. Lover

3. Ostrich Walk

4. My Baby Just Cares For Me

5. Over The Waves

6. Love Is Just Around The Corner

7. Song Of The Islands

8. Exactly Like You

9. Skater's Waltz

10. Willow Weep For Me

11. Aunt Haggar's Blues

12. Let's Fall In Love

13. She's Funny That Way

14. Tales From Hoffman

15. Wolverine Blues

16. Fidgety Feet

x

Track List: 22 Original Big Band Hits

1. That's A Plenty

2. Lazy Mood

3. March Of The Mustangs

4. March Of The Babcats

5. Ghost Of A Chance

6. Washington And Lee Swing

7. San Antonio Shout

8. Jazz Me Blues (Re-Recording)

9. What's New

10. Big Noise From Winnetka (Re-Recording)

11. Stomp Mr. Henry Lee

12. High Society (Re-Recording)

13. Dixieland Shuffle (Re-Recording)

14. Sugar Foot Stomp

15. Mississippi Mud

16. In A Sentimental Mood

17. Solitude

18. Alabamy Bound

19. On The Alamo

20. My Monday Date

21. Rose Of The Rio Grande

22. Grandpa Spells

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Air mail stomp is a horrendous copy!
Report as inappropriate
Yes they are so missed now. Artistry without equal or near equal.
Report as inappropriate
They don't make bands like this any more...what a pity.
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rodneycorriv e a u
Absolutely tantalizing!
Report as inappropriate
The feeling just pours out of this band - gripping.
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Gotta love the band....and the man...
Report as inappropriate
Great group of Dixieland musicians. Good stuff!
Report as inappropriate
like his dixieland band
Report as inappropriate
drumnow
Ed Metz continued the Bobcat legacy. His sons Tim and Ed Jr are currently continuing the tradition by keeping this music alive and touring worldwide as the Bobcats. http://www.b o b c r o s b y b o b c a t s . c o m /
Please add this info to the history of the Bobcats!! Adding the Metz music to the pandora database would show how this music still popular.
Report as inappropriate
jbsientz
A terribly under-rated vocalist and bandleader. Does anyone remember his afternoon TV show in the early 50s? Weren't Bess Myerson and the Modernaires featured? The Bob Cats could really swing Dixieland.
Report as inappropriate
Bob Cosby or Bob and Bing Crosby
Report as inappropriate
The best truly jszz band in the swing era.
A group of great improvisers.
Report as inappropriate
stevenlaib
Bob was also a regular on the Jack Benny Radio show for a period and in addition to providing musical entertainmen t occasionally got his share of laughs.
Report as inappropriate
love MARCH OF THE BOBCATS

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