Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18: Happy Birthday Kay Kyser (Kollege of Musical Knowledge)

James Kern Kyser was born June 18, 1905 and became one of the most notable bandleaders of the 30’s and 40’s. He...oh wait, you may know him by his other name, Kay Kyser...went onto become of the most respected and admired radio personalities of his day. Because of his energy and enthusiasm while in college, Kyser was asked to head up a band whose leader was moving on to other pursuits. As the new bandleader, Kay Kyser discovered his talent lay more in the announcing end of leading then trying to perform an instrument. Kyser would record a couple of hit pieces for Victor before becoming nationally acclaimed. As the band toured the country, Kay’s benchmark of turning playing music into quiz time for the audience, earned the band the name of the Kollege of Musical Knowledge. And as the “The Ol’ Perfessor”, Kyser would use his position to query and encourage the audience into dancing with phrases like, “C’mon chilluns, let’s dance”. By the late 30’s and in through the 40’s, the Kollege of Musical Knowledge was performing on radio for Mutual and NBC. The “Ol’ Professor” was calling out the quiz questions on the air just before hitting the band music for listeners everywhere. Jack Benny and Burns and Allen radio programs were some of the venues that had visits by The Kollege of Musical Knowledge. Hit instrumentalists like Sully Mason and Jack Martin were part of the band, which identified the unique calibre and personality of this travelling ensemble. Kay Kyser would take his band and fame into the movie industry and television. But his legacy as the travelling center of musical academia was his showpiece. Kay Kyser passed away in June of 1985. The “The Ol’ Perfessor” had ended his tenure.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14: Burl Ives

Whether it was his irascible personality in various motion pictures or as an animated host for playful reindeer, people instantly knew who Burl Ives was. Mr Ives had the voice that played to the radio audience because of its intrinsic calming quality and valued variance of intonation. Born June 14 of 1909, Burl Ives captured the American stage, movie and radio enclave with an almost operatic enhancement. One could say his first public performance was of him singing to a group of old soldiers. His uncle asked him to sing before the group and immediately his talents were noticed.

His early days had him partnered with the Boy Scouts of America as a spokesman and a former scout. Radio was a big part of Burl Ives, beginning with his first 1940’s radio program called The Wayfaring Stranger, where Ives first heard the news of WWII. Mr Ives continued to work on radio guest-starring on programs such as Bing Crosby, Martin and Lewis and Command Performance. He continued to parlay his hand with folk music, becoming part of the “The Almanacs”. As the war with Germany was going on, Burl Ives and his group could be seen around the country supporting the war effort and urging Americans to stay strong.

In 1947, Ives paired with the Andrews Sisters to record for Decca Records and held for weeks one of the highest selling recordings of the day. Although cleared of any communist sympathies, Burl Ives had to face the charges during the 1950s.

During this period, and into the 60’s, Mr Ives performed in various motion pictures. Into the 90’s, he was a great lover and performer of country music, stay involved in films and lent his voice to animated characters. He is probably most remembered as the host snowman for the classic , “Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer”. Burl Ives was married twice and one son.

In 1995 he passed away from complications dealing with oral cancer. It has always been a well-known belief that Burl Ives personified joy and happiness in everything he did...and lived.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June 13: Bob Bailey was born on this day in 1913.

June 13: Bob Bailey was born on this day in 1913.  

What was your favorite old time radio series that Bob Bailey starred in?

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12: Happy Birthday, Vic Damone


June 12: Happy Birthday, Vic Damone

Today marks the day on which, in 1928, the crooner of "You're Breaking My Heart," "You Do," and "My Truly Truly Fair" came into the world. Vic Damone was a singer, an armed services veteran, and an all-around charming personage.

When not cranking out the big hits, he had time to deliver them live on such big radio programs as Hedda Hopper's Hollywood and Guest Star. Guard Session featured Damone's recordings, interspersed with short interview slots in which he promoted the National Guard and talked about his experiences with them.

Damone was a prototypical Italian crooner, classy, debonair, well-tailored. It all went with his silky-smooth voice. We're pleased to pay tribute to him, and we thank him for the old time radio memories!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 9, 2013: Happy Birthday Les Paul


If you are a guitarist and know what a “lick” or a “trill” is, than you undoubtedly know Les Paul. Les Paul, born in 1915, is the world’s most renown guitarist to date and influenced the work of many of the big names of today. In fact, Les Paul had an influence on guitars as the inventor of the full-body electric guitar. His playing style formula surpassed the guitarists of the day and drove towards innovations, such as the overlay of sound upon sound. In 1934, Paul got involved in radio with an interest in piano, but that changed and he became fascinated with the arena of the guitar. His jazz style drove him to form a band and he got a gig on Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians radio program.

During the 1940’s Paul had opportunity to perform with some of the big names like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole  People were becoming more familiar with the music man and his variations on the traditional way of play. What was not lost was that Les Paul stepped out from the norm and created instruments that transitioned into the rock and roll realm of instrumental resonance. In the course of his life Les Paul was married twice and had four children, plus one adopted. His second wife, Mary Ford, became a part of his on-air presence when he hosted the Les Paul Show for NBC. Later, he moved the program from radio to television and renamed it the Les Paul and Mary Ford Show. Les Paul died in 2009 from complications with pneumonia.