Friday, February 1, 2013

It's time to get back to radio broadcasts again after a number of film posts.
Here's a complete Coca-Cola Spotlight Band broadcast from Saturday night February 28, 1942. Broadcast live from the legendary Paramount Theater. You'll hear Alvino receive a "silver platter" (not gold) for his record sales. Several of the songs are second rate but, in the case of "Cash for Your Trash" it's a relic of the war effort. Alvino also receives a tribute from the State of Texas and responds with "On the Alamo" followed by his hit record "Deep in the Heart of Texas."

When the Roses Bloom Again - The King Sisters
Cash for Your Trash - Bonnie King
Marine Tribute
The Marines Hymn
If I Could Only Play a Concertina - King Sisters
On The Alamo
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Closing Theme

Alvin McBurney, known to swing era fans as Alvino Rey, is often credited as the father of the pedal steel guitar. His first instrument was banjo and he performed on that instrument in the Phil Spittalney and Horace Heidt bands. It was with Heidt that he met the King Sisters and soon married Louise. The story goes that in 1938 the Heidt's band was hired at the Baltimore Hotel in NYC. Heidt was angry that the sponsor signed them up because they were impressed by Alyce King's vocals. He took the first opportunity to fire her - when she dropped her microphone and it hit an audience member. The other Sisters immediately resigned, followed by Alvino, and then saxophonist Frank DeVol.

Here's what Wikipedia says about what followed:

Rey formed his own group with the King Sisters (as lead singers) and Frank DeVol, heading for LA. The band was the Mutual Broadcasting network  houseband for three years, and through the band passed such musicians as Johnny Mandel, Skeets Herfurt, Neil Hefti, Dave Tough, Mel Lewis, Don Lamond, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims  and others. Arrangers for the band included Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Ray Conniff and Frank DeVol.

Soon afterward, they became one of the most popular acts in the country, while recording top ten hits and making appearances in Hollywood films. In 1942 Rey re-organized the orchestra, expanding the brass section. Although very popular, the AFM recording ban of 1943 put an end to their recordings.

In 1965, ABC aired a special featuring the King family, which grew into a series. Rey was musical director for the show, simultaneously producing a series of record albums featuring the cast of the program. He also continued performing well into his eighties, leading a band that played Disneyland each year from the theme park's opening in 1955.

I had the opportunity to provide the backup band for a performance by The King Cousins back in the early 70s. They were as beautiful and talented as their mothers were during the swing era.

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