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

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2 Comments

  1. On top of the article there’s a photo of Perry Como. That’s not Bob or Ray Eberly!

    • Good call! Thanks for pointing it out. We were editing an upcoming article on Perry Como and accidentally uploaded his photo instead. Thanks again, Paul


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