The controversial and devastating Artie Shaw, who popularized Begin the Beguine , Adios, mariquita linda and Frenzy , hung up the clarinet forever in 1954, when he was just 44 years old. When he turned 90, in the year 2000, the scathing Shaw was still alive and shouting things like “Glenn Miller was the Lawrence Welk of jazz” and “Today is useless.” Referring to the bulk of the public, he shot: “The masses are totally stupid: they are in the Stone Age.”
Worthy of Ripley is Shep Fields and his musical cigarette. In a radio contest, held in the United States in the 1940s, to select the best description of the “aquatic” sound of his orchestra, he won “rippling rhythm”, which perfectly described the rhythm of the rippling of water. It seemed to Fields that he had to achieve a defining characteristic of his style. Hearing the sound of sprinkling his wife made, at the time of having a soda with a straw, presto !, the idea came to him and from then on Fields would appear with a small bowl of water and a straw ready to make bubbles . As the orchestra played, he gently blew his cigarette in front of the microphone.
Coconuts in India
Victor Herbert, composer of musical comedies, included in his work a number that he called Canción cubana . His lyrics began by saying: In the isle of Cuba, / fair Havana / There I raise the coconut / and the banana (On the island of Cuba / beautiful Havana / there I grow the coconut / and the banana); However, the plot of The Eyes of the Idol , as the play was called, takes place in India!
Rock Around the Clock
When the controversial film Blackboard Jungle was being filmed , the producers were looking for a piece that represented the music that young people listened to in 1955. Glenn Ford, star of the film, presented some albums by his son Peter and that was how Rock Around the Clock was selected.
This historic rock was written in late 1952 and recorded by Bill Halley in 1954. As the tape in which it was included was about rebellious students in a New York school, this led to rock and roll being associated with crime youthful and that, in its beginnings, as it happened before with jazz, this one was demonized by the North American leagues of decency.
Orchestra with clones
Paul Whiteman, who imposed the symphonic sound in jazz, came to manage an empire of orchestras under a system of licenses or shared profits for the use of the name and the arrangements. Whiteman personally supervised the rehearsals for each new orchestra and occasionally assisted in conducting a couple of numbers where required.
The plan to create units copied from the original, to play nationally, had been designed by his manager HC Ernst, former Sales Director of the Victor Talking Machine. This commercial modality was similar to that of franchises that are now spread throughout the world. In October 1922, the Whiteman organization’s office handled nineteen orchestras generating a million dollars a year and Ernst was ready to sign more!
Pleased to meet you! My name is…
Before venturing into calypso, Harry Belafonte sang ballads and later folk. One of his first recordings was My White Horse , by the Chilean Pancho Flores, whose real name was the very curious Pancho Flores del Campo.
In 1876, Johann Strauss Jr. conducted a concert in Boston. It took place in an open space with a capacity for 100,000 people, where a huge orchestra of thousands of musicians played. The massive performance of The Blue Danube began with a thunderous cannon shot. This explosive occurrence so terrified Strauss that from then on he vowed never to set foot on American soil again.
A little of everything!
Many musicians and singers have succumbed to the complacency of chemical hedonism, although there were those who – happily and miraculously – were saved. This was the astonishing case of the seemingly incorrigible Dave Mustaine. This rock musician finally got on the right track, which was less than surprising, considering that, in his latest arrest, he was shown to have nine different chemical agents on him: heroin, cocaine, speed, Valium, Darvoset, Bupronex , chlohydrates and marijuana. The ninth was alcohol, because, as if that were not enough, the musician also had a drunken father and my lord on top of him!
And he’s still so excited …
The novel Carmen , by Prospère Merimée, would have passed into oblivion had it not been for the operatic adaptation made by Georges Bizet (who had a Spanish mother). His film versions are close to fifty films; but the opera productions, including bullfights, have been so varied and numerous that, according to a journalist, “it is surprising to many that, in some of them, they have not made the bull sing as well.”
Eddie Duchin didn’t hit a
By 1935 the orchestra led by the pianist Eddie Duchin was playing in the Persian Room (NYC), whose story was made into a film with Tyrone Power in the main role. The actor dubbed Carmen Cavallaro on the piano, who played it much better than Duchin, of whom some musician said that he was the only pianist in the world who made a mistake in every measure he played and, on top of that, they applauded him.
Can you always get it right?
No. In 1938, George Bernard Shaw (d. 1950) flatly refused to receive that year’s Oscar for Best Screenplay for the film Pygmalion . He also stubbornly opposed the transformation of the play (written in 1913) into a musical comedy, which the composers Rodgers and Hart said was impossible; however, Lerner and Loewe made her a resounding success when they turned her into My Fair Lady . The comedy not only broke Broadway records, generating several musical hits, but the film version won four Oscars.
Hairy with violets
In Europe there was a case that involved Libertad Lamarque, who rejected a film with music by maestro Padilla. The role was given to Sarita Montiel, who lived for many years on the cinematographic and musical success that her decision provided. The movie was La violetera y el pelón from La novia de América was also made from a movie.
In Venezuela, Chelique Sarabia “annoyed” Mario Suárez to record a song for him, but the popular singer did not pay him more attention, which Rafael Montaño did, who was awarded when Chelique gave him Anxiety and the number hit.
“I don’t like that Mona! …”
Frank Sinatra, who could be very stubborn, flatly refused to record a Livingston and Evans composition. Sinatra claimed that he was not going to sing a song with lyrics that were “about a painting.” The song not only achieved great popularity on the voice of Nat King Cole, but it also won the Hollywood Oscar for Song of the Year in 1950. Its title? Monalisa .
Truth-Truth Home Run
When he played in the summer resorts of the Catskills, north of New York, Aldemaro Romero had in his group as a dancer of mambos and cha cha chas, the young Elliott Gould (Goldstein). They were both part of the musicians’ softball team that played against hotel employees. In one of those games, Aldemaro hit the only home run he ever hit in his entire life. Years later, when the two ran into each other in the New York Village, Gould told Aldemaro: “Do you remember your home run from that day in the Catskills? Well, a few years later, I got one with three on base… ”. “And how was that?” Aldemaro asked him. “Well,” the actor replied, “long after we saw each other, I went to Hollywood and hit a grand slam when I married Barbra Straissand!”