Music

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Roy C. Knapp Followed the Beat of His Own Drum

A 1952 ad for the Roy C. Knapp School of Percussion A series of accidents led Roy Knapp Into the life of a professional musician. Of course, Knapp had been reared in music. His father was a violinist, and from his earliest days Knapp was taught to play the violin. Then he broke his left arm in such a way that, even after it healed, it was impossible for him to finger the strings of the violin. So he took up the trumpet. His father wanted Knapp to be a farmer, and several times Knapp was ... (read more)

Nelson Selby, the Busiest Organist in Buffalo

Organist Nelson Selby at Old Laube's Restaurant in Buffalo One rarely thinks of an organist as being a much-traveled man or one whose activities would run from virtually dawn to midnight. But WBEN organist Nelson Selby is currently providing the musical backbone of Breakfast at Laube's Old Spain five mornings a week, playing at the Hotel Lenox six evenings a week, and airing a Sunday afternoon organ program on WBEN. He also is heard frequently on Sundays at Buffalo's leading churches. ... (read more)

Bing Crosby: A Quick Study in Singing and Acting

Bing Crosby in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949) When Bing Crosby changed from "live" radio shows to transcribed ones, it was because he felt that better programs would result when they could be assembled and produced with the care and control that transcribing allows -- you can't change a song or a comedy line once it's gone on the airways, but you can always "edit" a transcription. Besides, having to show up for rehearsals and broadcasts at set times every week was ... (read more)

Command Performance Radio Entertains the Troops

Bing Crosby and Jimmy Cagney on Command Performance (August 30, 1942) A few Sundays ago, a young and unknown radio producer sat down to a telephone in the War Department in Washington and called Leopold Stokowski, in New York. "Mr. Stokowski," he said, "I want you and your orchestra to appear on my radio program two weeks from today." Stokowski -- who won't lift a baton for less than $4,000 -- gasped. But before he could hang up, Glenn Wheaton, radio producer for Uncle Sam, explained. "We ... (read more)

Warden Lewis E. Lawes on Radio in Sing Sing Prison

Sing Sing Prison Warden Lewis E. Lawes on Time Magazine (Nov. 18, 1929) The other evening, I made one of my accustomed tours through the cell blocks. As I strolled along I could hear laughter issuing from practically every cell and could see, of course, that the radio was creating this atmosphere of joviality. "Hello, Warden," the men greeted as I passed by. "They got a swell program on tonight." I knew the program they were referring to. It was one of the prominent half-hour variety ... (read more)

Major Bowes: The King of Radio's Amateur Hour

Major Bowes and Amateur Hour performer Frank Sinatra in 1943 It's a bit puzzling, on first meeting Major Edward Bowes, to decide whether you are looking at a churchman or the head of a prosperous money-lending agency. His manner is faintly pious; his eyes are as cold as a polar bear's paws. Still, it's his nose that really gets you. It is a great, engulfing over-riding thing which makes Jimmy Durante's look like a wemple. The man behind it is about 66. He has hair which is thin and ... (read more)

Amanda Snow: From a Nightclub to Gospel Radio

Gospel singer Amanda Snow Hymns have always been joyous and inspirational music to Amanda Snow, NBC's newest singing personality. Perhaps that is why she is now a radio star. To begin with, Snow sang in the Rockford, Illinois, Mission Tabernacle and its Bethesda Church. She later sang in the First Swedish Baptist Church of Minneapolis before coming to New York. And when she finally came to the Big City, she didn't forget her hymns. When Snow came to New York for an audition, she was ... (read more)

Phillips Lord Gives Voice to Bums of the Bowery

Seth Parker portrayer and creator Phillips Lord Criminals, bop-heads, panhandlers and other breeds of down-and-outers of New York's Bowery have combined with one of radio's best-known characters to present a series of programs over National Broadcasting Company networks, hailed as one of the unique broadcasts of the year. America's radio audience demanded variety, and Phillips H. Lord, 28-year-old creator of Seth Parker and His Jonesport Neighbors, supplied it. In a dingy, smoke-filled ... (read more)

Inside Kate Smith's Kitchen

Kate Smith on CBS radio in 1943 "Hello, everybody. This is Kate Smith." How often you've heard that cheery greeting! The rich, friendly tones of the speaker's voice bring instant recognition apart from the spoken words and you find yourself responding as you would to the warm handclasp of an old friend. Well, after all, this is an old friend I am presenting to you here, this Catherine Elizabeth Smith, who for years has been bringing the moon over the mountain and into your living room. ... (read more)

Bing Crosby Wants His Records Banned from Radio

Bing Crosby on CBS Radio How many times a day do you tune in your radio and hear records being played? Would you feel deprived if the station you listened to no longer played these records of your favorites? That is the situation you may soon be facing. It's important enough for several of the networks' biggest stars to have joined hands in a concerted action to ban the records they have made from the air. In January a decision was handed down in a Philadelphia court which forbade a ... (read more)