Thursday, March 20, 2014
Bandleader, radio star, TV star, holder of a law degree, paradigm for generations of fathers, Ozzie Nelson did just about everything. We know he'd become grandfather to the awful early-90's rock duo Nelson (Gunnar and Matthew of the long white hair), but we can't hold that against one of the godfathers of classic radio.
Today's birthday boy was an Eagle Scout and high school football player in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. During this time he developed his music chops and became a teen bandleader. He formed the Ozzie Nelson Band, which beat out Paul Whiteman's orchestra in a 1930 New York Daily Mirror poll.
The man who married Harriet Hilliard in 1935 was already a successful recording artist, not necessarily figuring to become essentially a metaphor for domesticity. But the two of them put on a family-oriented radio show, and then the TV show with its cardigans that would characterize him as safe and paternal.
A hallmark of a good father, in a lot of people's minds, is successful offspring, and Ricky Nelson did just fine as a chart-topping pop-rocker.
Happy birthday to Oswald Nelson, oldtime radio legend.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
It's our pleasure to wish a happy birthday to trombonist Jack Teagarden. If you're a fan of classics like "Them There Eyes," "Lazy River," and "Jeepers Creepers," you're a fan of Jack Teagarden, who helped bring those tunes to life on the airwaves as a member of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The outfit's radio show was called The Old Gold/Paul Whiteman Hour, its rival B.A. Rolfe and his Lucky Strike Orchestra.
The barrel-chested Teagarden is recognized as one of the all-time greats in the world of jazz; he was a great trombonist and also served as a vocalist, with a distinctive style that would grow to be influential.
His playing style was versatile, jazz at its heart but tending toward blues. Some of this may be due to his self-taught nature. Finally, let's not neglect to mention the songs Teagarden penned: "Shake Your Hips," "Swingin' On The Teagarden Gate," and, with Benny Goodman, "Texas Tea Party."
Thursday, March 28, 2013
March 28: Happy Birthday, Paul Whiteman
Paul Whiteman was a Jazz bandleader who brought his genre of music to a million or so listeners who may not have otherwise enjoyed it. He was commercially successful and panned by critics, who felt he wasn't playing "real" jazz. To this minor controversy, he added fuel by calling himself "The King of Jazz."
It's worth a mention that his band had room for such great musicians as Red Nichols, Tommy Dorsey, and Eddie Lambert.
A couple of decades into his disputed run as "King of Jazz," Whiteman was tapped to host the radio show Kraft Music Program, which he faithfully did from '33 to '35. He then performed on the Chesterfield Hour and finally Paul Whiteman Presents.
We radio devotees owe Whiteman an additional debt due to the fact that he worked as ABC radio's music director for several years. He capped his radio career by hosting, from Philadelphia, Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club.