Farewell Phoebe Snow

Phoebe Snow, singer of 1970’s hot, “Poetry Man” dies at age 60.
By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times

April 26, 2011, 8:27 a.m.

Phoebe Snow, a singer and songwriter who gained fame with her 1974 self-titled album that featured the hit single “Poetry Man,” has died. She was 60.

Snow died Tuesday in Edison, N.J., her longtime friend and public relations representative, Rick Miramontez, said. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage in January 2010.

The album “Phoebe Snow” turned the singer, blessed with multi-octave range, into a star. She made the cover of Rolling Stone, appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

“Poetry Man”

“Phoebe Snow has made it,” Stephen Holden wrote in a 1975 review for Rolling Stone. “On a musical level she shows the potential of becoming a great jazz singer. Among confessional pop songwriters she immediately ranks with the finest.”

Rolling Stone described her nine original compositions in “Phoebe Snow” as “light jazz torch songs” but freer in form and attitude. (Two other songs on the album were her versions of others’ material).

Snow was hard to categorize musically; a Times reviewer early in her career called her style “a helter skelter amalgam of pop, jazz, blues, gospel and folk.” She explained to the New York Times in 2003, “No creative person should ever produce the same thing over and over.”

“Harpo’s Blues”

Dennis Hunt, writing in the Los Angeles Times in 1976, said her voice had “a marvelous ‘cracked’ quality” and she “glides through and glances off notes in an appealing offbeat manner.”

But Snow was never able to duplicate her early commercial success. Her career took a backseat to caring for her daughter, Valerie Rose Laub, who was born in 1975 with severe brain damage.

“No Regrets”

“It was very, very tight,” Snow told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. “Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn’t like to tour and they didn’t get a lot of label support. But you know what? It didn’t really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie and that time was precious.”

She sang commercial jingles for such companies as Stouffer’s and General Foods, which she said paid well.

Her daughter died in 2007. A few months later, Snow started performing again, trying to deal with her loss.

“Right now it’s beyond a hole. It’s a black hole,” she told the Record of Bergen County, N.J., in 2008. “I don’t even know how to describe that vacancy because it was such an intense relationship. We lived together for 31 years. She was a perennial child. I was her primary caregiver. … We were best friends. It was beyond a loss. I don’t even know what word to use.”

Snow was born Phoebe Laub on July 17, 1950, in New York City and grew up in Teaneck, N.J. As a youngster she studied piano, then switched to the guitar.

“I always wanted to be the greatest woman guitarist alive,” she told The Times in 1976. “I had fantasies about being a female Jimi Hendrix. I would go to his concerts and watch all the things he did. But I guess I just wasn’t meant to be a superstar guitarist.”

Taking guitar lessons affected her singing style.

“I finally said, ‘I can’t play these guitar lines but maybe I can sing them.’ I tried to sing the way a guitar sounds and the way a saxophone sounds too.”

Her poetry became the basis of her lyrics, and she started playing at New York clubs. She signed with Shelter Records in 1974.

She moved to Columbia Records in 1976 after sometimes nasty legal wrangling with Shelter. “Second Childhood” earned her a second gold record, but subsequent Columbia releases did not sell as well. She left the label at the end of the 1970s.

After being quiet most of the 1980s, Snow recorded a comeback album in 1989’s “Something Real” for Elektra.

Her most recent album was “Phoebe Snow — Live” in 2008.

“I faded away for a while out of necessity,” she told The Times in 1998. “In hindsight, I missed out on some good or productive years. On the other hand … I really made the only choice I could under the circumstances.”

Dorothy Lamour

Dorothy Lamour (December 10, 1914 – September 22, 1996) was an American film actress. She is best-remembered for appearing in the Road to… movies, a series of successful comedies co-starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (see Timeline of major beauty pageants) .[1]

Lamour was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton in New Orleans, Louisiana, the daughter of Carmen Louise (née LaPorte) and John Watson Slaton, both of whom were waiters.[2] Lamour had French Louisianan, Spanish and Irish descent.[3] She was raised to be a Catholic.[4] Her parents’ marriage lasted only a few years, with her mother re-marrying to Clarence Lambour, and Dorothy took his last name. That marriage also ended in divorce when Dorothy was a teenager. The family finances were so desperate that when she was 15, she forged her mother’s name to a document that authorized her to drop out of school. Later, however, she did go to a secretarial school that did not require her to have a high school diploma. She regarded herself as an excellent typist and usually typed her own letters, even after she became quite wealthy.

After she won the 1931 Miss New Orleans beauty contest, she and her mother moved to Chicago, where she earned $17 a week as an elevator operator for the Marshall Field department store on State Street. She had no training as a singer but was persuaded by a friend to try out for a female vocalist’s spot with Herbie Kay, a band leader who had a national radio show called “The Yeast Foamers”, apparently because it was sponsored by Fleischmann’s Yeast. She married Kay in 1935. They were divorced in 1939.[5]

She left Kay’s group and moved to Manhattan, where Rudy Vallee, then a popular singer, helped her get a singing job at a popular night club, El Morocco. She later worked at 1 Fifth Avenue, a cabaret where she met Louis B. Mayer, the Hollywood studio chief. It was Mayer who eventually arranged for her to have a screen test, which led to her Paramount contract in 1935.

In 1935, she had her own fifteen-minute weekly musical program on NBC Radio. She also sang on the popular Rudy Vallee radio show and the Chase and Sanborn Hour. When she was at her zenith as a star, her fans suggested that an agent had adopted her last name from the French word for “love” as a box-office ploy. In fact, the name was close to one in the family; Lamour adapted it herself from Lambour, which was the last name of her stepfather, Clarence.

Early in her career, Lamour met J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to Hoover’s biographer Richard Hack,[6] Hoover pursued Lamour romantically, but she was initially interested only in friendship with him. Hoover and Lamour remained close friends to the end of Hoover’s life, and after his 1972 death, Lamour did not deny rumors that she’d had an affair with him in the years after she divorced Kay. However, this appears nowhere in her memoirs “My Side of the Road” (Prentice-Hall ISBN0-13-218594-6).

“I’m In The Mood For Love”

In 1936, she moved to Hollywood and began appearing regularly in films for Paramount Pictures. The role that made her a star was Ulah (a sort of female Tarzan) in The Jungle Princess (1936). She wore a sarong, which would become associated with her. While she first achieved stardom as a sex symbol, Lamour also showed talent as both a comic and dramatic actress. She was among the most popular actresses in motion pictures from 1936 to 1952.

“Thanks For The Memory”

She starred in the “Road to…” movie series with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the 1940s and 1950s. The movies were enormously popular during the 1940s, and they regularly placed among the top moneymaking films each year. While the films centered more on Hope and Crosby, Lamour held her own as their “straight man“, looked beautiful, and sang some of her most popular songs. Her contribution to the films was considered by the public and theater owners of equal importance to that of Crosby and Hope during the series’ golden era, 1940-1952. The series essentially ended with the release of Road to Bali in 1952, with her career declining while co-stars Hope and Crosby remained major show business figures.

During the World War II years, Lamour was among the most popular pinup girls among American servicemen, along with Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner and Veronica Lake. Lamour was also largely responsible for starting up the war bond tours in which movie stars would travel the country selling U.S. government bonds to the public. Lamour alone promoted the sale of over $21 million dollars worth of war bonds, and other stars promoted the sale of a billion more.

“I Remember You”

Some of Dorothy Lamour’s other notable films include John Ford‘s The Hurricane (1937), Spawn of the North (1938), Disputed Passage (1939), Johnny Apollo (1940), Aloma of the South Seas (1941), Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942), Dixie (1943), A Medal for Benny (1945), My Favorite Brunette (1947), On Our Merry Way (1948) and the best picture Oscar-winner The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). Her leading men included William Holden, Tyrone Power, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jack Benny, George Raft, and Fred MacMurray.

“Personality”

Dorothy Lamour starred in a number of movie musicals and sang in many of her comedies and dramatic films as well. She introduced a number of standards, including “The Moon of Manakoora”, “I Remember You (1941 song)“, “It Could Happen to You (song)“, “Personality (1946 song)“, and “But Beautiful (song)“.

“Too Romantic”

Lamour’s film career petered out in the early 1950s, and she began a new career as a nightclub entertainer and occasional stage actress. In the 1960s, she returned to the screen for secondary roles in three films and became more active in the legitimate theater, headlining a road company of Hello Dolly!for over a year near the end of the decade.

Lamour’s good humor and lack of pretension allowed her to have a remarkably long career in show business for someone best known as a glamour girl. She was a popular draw on the dinner theatre circuit of the 1970s. In the 1960s and 1970s, she lived with her longtime husband William Ross Howard III (whom she married in 1943), in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland.[7] He died in 1978. Lamour published her autobiography My Side of the Road in 1980, revived her nightclub act, and performed in plays and television shows such as Hart to Hart, Crazy Like a Fox, and Murder, She Wrote.

During the 1990s, she made only a handful of professional appearances but she remained a popular interview subject for publications and TV talk and news programs. In 1995, the musical Swinging on a Star, a revue of songs written by Johnny Burke opened on Broadway and ran for three months; Lamour was credited as a “special advisor”. Burke wrote many of the most famous “Road to…” movie songs as well as the score to Lamour’s And the Angels Sing. The musical was nominated for the Best Musical Tony Award and the actress playing “Dorothy Lamour” in the Road movie segment, Kathy Fitzgerald, was also nominated.

Lamour died at her home in North Hollywood, California at the age of 81 from a heart attack. She was interred in the Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, after a Catholic funeral service.

Sources: Wikipedia, imdb.com, nndb.com, youtube

Filmography

Features

Short subjects

  • The Stars Can’t Be Wrong (1936)
  • Hollywood Handicap (1938)
  • Meet the Stars #1: Chinese Garden Festival (1940)
  • Show Business at War (1943)
  • Unusual Occupations: Film Tot Holiday (1947)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Shower of Stars (1955)

Books

Lamour was the heroine of a novel, Dorothy Lamour and the Haunted Lighthouse (1947, by Matilda Bailey), where “the heroine has the same name and appearance as the famous actress but has no connection … it is as though the famous actress has stepped into an alternate reality in which she is an ordinary person.” The story was written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as “Whitman Authorized Editions”, 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.[8]

The real Lamour’s autobiography, My Side of the Road, was published by Prentice-Hall in 1980.[9]

She also had a brief print run of 2-3 issues during the 1950s in “Dorothy Lamour Jungle Princess Comics” – A series of comic books dedicated to her movie Jungle Princess persona. (featuring screen shots from past movies as the covers.)

The Modernaires

The Modernaires are an American vocal group, best known for performing in the 1940s alongside Glenn Miller

“I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night”

The Modernaires began in 1935 as a trio of schoolmates from Lafayette High School in Buffalo, New York. The members, Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway, were called “Don Juan-Two and Three,” and had their first engagement at Buffalo’s suburban Glen Falls Casino, with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. They then joined the Ozzie Nelson Band, and became known as “The Three Wizards of Ozzie.” They next recruited Ralph Brewster to make a quartet and, performing with the Fred Waring Orchestra, became The Modernaires. In 1937, they were featured on the Paul Whiteman radio show. They recorded many of the classic songs of that era, a few with Jack Teagarden.

“I Use To Be Colorblind” (originally introduced by Fred Astaire)

“Perfidia”

In October 1940, Glenn Miller engaged them to record It’s Make Believe Ballroom Time, a sequel to the original Make Believe Ballroom, which they had recorded earlier for Martin Block‘s big band show of the same name, on WNEW New York. In January 1941 Miller made The Modernaires an important part of the most popular big band of all time. Paula Kelly (Mrs. Hal Dickinson) was added to the Miller band between March – August 1941. After appearing in the movie Sun Valley Serenade with Miller’s orchestra in 1941, they had ten chart hits that year. After Miller joined the Army, Paula Kelly became a permanent member of The Modernaires, making it a quintet. For the next few decades they traveled the world many times over making history with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Johnny Drake replaced Chuck Goldstein (who left the Modernaires the day after the Miller band broke up in 1942) and Fran Scott replaced Bill Conway (who left during the war and never returned to the Mods for a handful of reasons).[citation needed] Jack Thornton was also a member during the early 1950s.

“The Milkman’s Matinee”

Songs made popular by Miller and The Modernaires included “Perfidia”, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo“, with Tex Beneke (the first-ever “gold record” with over one million copies sold), “I Know Why”, “Elmer’s Tune”, “Serenade In Blue”, and “Kalamazoo”, with Beneke, among others.

“Chattanooga Choo Choo”

“I Know Why and So Do You”

In 1945, “There! I’ve Said It Again” became The Modernaire’s first top-twenty hit.

After Miller’s disappearance, The Modernaires recorded vocal versions of several of Miller’s instrumental hits, including “Moonlight Serenade“, “Sunrise Serenade“, “Little Brown Jug“, “Tuxedo Junction“, “Pennsylvania 6-5000“, and “A String of Pearls“. The Modernaires released a 45 single on Coral Records, 9-61110, A Salue to Glenn Miller, which included medleys in two parts from the movie soundtrack, A Salute to Glenn Miller, Parts 1 and 2: (I’ve Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo/Moonlight Cocktail/Elmer’s Tune/Moonlight Serenade/Chatanooga Choo-Choo/String Of Pearls/Serenade In Blue/At Last/Perfidia, that reached number 29 on the Billboard charts in 1954. In the late 1950s they were featured vocalists with the Bob Crosby Orchestra on his daily TV show. In the 60s they recorded the theme song for the TV sitcom HAZEL. Their style, harmonies and blend influenced later artists such as The Four Freshmen, who in turn were models for the Beach Boys, whom the Beatles later cited as a strong influence on their work. Thus, The Modernaires have affected generations of popular music, from swing to rock and roll. The Modernaires were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

“People Like You and Me” from Sun Valley Serenade. Featured here is Marion Hutton, (Betty Hutton’s sister) Tex Benekie, Ray Eberle and The Modernaires.

Sources: wikipedia, youtube, themodernaires.com

Bob & Ray Eberly

Bob Eberly (July 24, 1916 – November 17, 1981[1]) was a big band vocalist. He was born in Mechanicville, New York and was the brother of another well-known big-band singer, Ray Eberle. (He changed the spelling of his last name because of mispronunciation by Milton Berle‘s announcer[1].) He is known for singing with Jimmy Dorsey‘s band and is most well-known for singing “Green Eyes,” one of a number of songs that were revived because of a songwriters’ strike[2]. Many people thought that he would end up marrying Helen O’Connell because of the way they sang the song “Green Eyes”. His sisters include Patricia Knapp, Margaret Rimkunas, Gail Himes & Jackie Cardilli, all of Bradenton, Florida. A brother, Alfred J. Eberle, lives in their childhood home in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.

“Tangerine” with Helen O’Connell, and Jimmy Dorsey

“A Sinner Kissed An Angel”

“Green Eyes”

Ray Eberle (19 January 1919 Mechanicville, New York – 25 August 1979 Douglasville, Georgia) was a vocalist during the Big Band Era. Eberle sang with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and later became one of the members of the group The Modernaires.[1]

He was born in Mechanicville, New York, and was the brother of another famous Big Band singer, Bob Eberly, who sang with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Ray started singing in his teens, with no formal training, and used the “Eberle” form of his surname to distinguish him from his brother. In 1938, Glenn Miller, who was looking for a male vocalist for his big band, asked Bob Eberly if he had any siblings at home who could sing. Bob said yes, and Ray was hired on the spot[2]. However, music critics and Miller’s musicians were not happy with Eberle’s vocal style and often made complaints, but Miller stuck with him nonetheless[3].

“At Last” with the Glenn Miller Orchestra

Eberle would go on to success with Miller and he deemed the songs for Orchestra Wives, such as the jazz standard “At Last“, to be among his favorites as there were songs he could “sink my teeth into, and make a story out of”.[4] He appeared in the Twentieth Century Fox movies Sun Valley Serenade (1941) and Orchestra Wives (1942). He made one Universal film, Mister Big making a cameo appearance as himself. Ray Eberle mostly sung ballads for Miller et alia.[5] From 1940 to 1943 he did well on Billboard (magazine)‘s “College Poll” for male vocalist.[6]

“And The Angels Sing”

“Imagination”

Glenn Miller ran a tight ship; he usually fired people after the first incident. Eberle was stuck in traffic during a Chicago engagement, and was late for a rehearsal. Miller fired him on the spot, and replaced him in June 1942 with Skip Nelson. Eberle sang lead on “Sometime”, composed by Glenn Miller in 1939, “Polka Dots and Moonbeams“, “At Last“, a number 9 chart hit on Billboard in 1942, and “To You”. After his departure from Miller, Eberle briefly joined Gene Krupa’s band before launching a solo career[7].

“Moonlight Seranade”

He joined former Miller bandmate Tex Beneke‘sorchestra in 1970 for a national tour, and reformed his own orchestra later in the decade. He died of a heart attack in Douglasville, Georgia on August 25, 1979.[8]

Sources: youtube, wikipedia, imdbcom, nndb.com