Chapter 3: Part A: The Crooning Of Bing Crosby

Born Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby Junior on May 3, 1903 in Tacoma, Washington, the fourth of seven children, and raised in Spokane, Washington, Bing Crosby is considered one of the best selling Singers of the 20th Century.  Blessed with a trademark bass-baritone singing voice Bing Crosby sold approximately half a billion records and received his famous “Bing” moniker from his childhood friend, 15 year old Valentine Hobart, when he was 6 years old.  The two of them always enjoyed and shared a feature of the Sunday Edition of the Spokesman-Review Newspaper called “The Bingville Bugle,” and she would call him “Bingo From Bingville”.  Eventually the “o” in Bingo dropped and he became famously known as Bing.

Bing Crosby’s intimate style of singing influenced many others who would become famous Performing Stars in their own right including Dean Martin, Perry Como, and Frank Sinatra.  In 1948 Bing Crosby’s music filled almost half of the weekly allowed recorded radio music hours in the United States according to Music Digest Magazine, and Yank Magazine credited Bing Crosby with doing more for the morale of American soldiers than anybody else during World War Two.

In 1923 Bing Crosby helped form the Musicaladers with Robert Pritchard, Claire Pritchard, Al Rinker, Miles Rinker, and James Heaton.  The Musicaladers performed for 2 years for high schools and local clubs.

In 1925 Bing Crosby and Al Rinker met the famous Bandleader Paul Whiteman, who was highly regarded as the “King of Jazz and Symphonic Music,” as well as for his rendition of, and perhaps most influential piece of music, George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue”.  Together, along with Harry Barris, they formed The Rhythm Boys who were featured in the 1930 motion picture known as The King of Jazz, and recorded their first song “I’ve Got The Girl” at the Tivoli Theatre in Chicago, Illinois on December 6, 1926.  The Rhythm Boys also performed with Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Hoagy Carmichael, Eddie Lang, Weldon “Leo” Jack Teagarden, who was known as the “Father of Jazz Trombone,” and Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderberke who helped invent the Jazz Ballad style of music in the 1920s.  Bing Crosby would also credit Mildred Bailey, the sister of Al Rinker, who was known as the “Queen of Swing,” with landing him his first major entertainment performance.

In 1928 Bing Crosby recorded his first Number 1 Jazz-influenced Hit, known as “Ol’ Man River,” and joined the Gus Anheim Orchestra after The Rhythm Boys dissolved.  Harry Barris would later write the Hits “I Surrender Dear,” “At Your Command,” and “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” for him.

Bing Crosby signed with CBS Radio and the Brunswick Records label in 1931, and made his radio debut on September 2, 1931.  He also placed “Just One More Chance,” “Out Of Nowhere,” “At Your Command,” and “I Found A Million Dollar Baby (In A Five And Ten Cent Store)” among the top songs of that year which made him America’s leading Singing Star.

Bing Crosby appeared in several of Mack Sennett’s, the famous innovater of motion picture Slapstick Comedy, Short Films.  Bing Crosby also starred in the Frank Tuttle-directed Musical Comedy motion picture known as The Big Broadcast that would be the first of 55 movies he received Top Billing in.

Bing Crosby co-starred on the CBS Radio program with the Carl Fenton Orchestra, became the Host of NBC Radio’s Kraft Music Hall Variety Program where he remained from January 2, 1936 until May 9, 1946, recorded his Signature Song “Where The Blue Of The Night (Meets The Gold Of The Day)” that featured his early trademark whistling interlude, and changed popular American music to a crooning singing style.

Originally recorded on May 29, 1942 the Irving Berlin Old-Fashioned Christmas Setting song “White Christmas,” the best selling Single of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records, was first performed by Bing Crosby on Christmas Day of 1941 on his Kraft Music Hall radio program.  Bing Crosby recorded “White Christmas” with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers on May 29, 1942 and released it on the album from the Mark Sandrich-directed Musical Film known as Holiday Inn.  Bing Crosby was famous for having brushed the song off shortly after recording it by telling Irving Berlin it was nothing special.

“White Christmas” spent 11 weeks sitting in the Number 1 position on the Billboard charts and 3 weeks as the Number 1 Hit on the Harlem Hit Parade that ranked Black Music.  “White Christmas” was the Billboard Number 1 song during the 1945 and 1946 holiday seasons, making it the only Single to be Number 1 on the Billboard charts three different times, as well as 20 different times on the Billboard Pop Music charts.  “White Christmas” won the 1942 Academy Award for Best Original Song and was also ranked by the RIAA as the Number 2 Song of the Century.

Bing Crosby was particularly noted as a Singer for his careful phrasing of lyrics, he charted 383 Singles, and 41 Number 1 Hits.  Bing Crosby recorded 23 Gold and Platinum albums during his career and 47 songs with The Andrews Sisters including the four Million Selling Hits “South America Take It Away,” “Jingle Bells,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Pistol Packin’ Mama”.

Bing Crosby recorded the four Grammy Award-winning songs known as “White Christmas,” “Sweet Leilani,” “In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening,” and “Swinging On A Star”.  Bing Crosby has been inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  Bing Crosby was also given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1962.

Bing Crosby not only wrote, or co-wrote, 17 songs including the Number 1 Pop Music Hit “At Your Command,” that he co-wrote with the Songwriters Hall of Fame member Harry Tobias, with Harry Barris composing the music, but he is also wellknown for his involvement in companies such as Apex, that built the first commercial reel-to-reel tape recorder in North America.  Bing Crosby was also the first Singer to pre-record using magnetic tape, and gave Les Paul an Apex Model 200 tape recorded that led Paul to invent multitrack recording.

Bing Crosby died on October 14, 1977 from a massive heart attack after playing a round of golf in Alcobendas, near Madrid, in Spain.