Here’s to The Vocalists! by Arnie Koch

Seldom acknowledged is how many big bands provided the “launching pads” for their vocalists who went on to fame and. sometimes, fortunes. Many became as important and familiar to the public as their former employers,  .As the big band era began to fade,  their  careers  blossomed.  It is an impressive list:

Peggy Lee, Martha Tilton, Helen Ward – Benny Goodman

Doris Day – Les Brown

Billie Holiday – Count Basie, Artie Shaw.

Rosemary Clooney – Tony Pastor

Jo Stafford, Connie Haines – Tommy Dorsey

Ella Fitzgerald – Chick Webb.

Helen O’Connell, Kitty Kallen – Jimmy Dorsey

Lena Horne, Kay Starr – Charlie Barnet

June Christy – Stan Kenton

Keely Smith – Louis Prima

Sarah Vaughan  – Earl Hines

Berry Hutton – Vincent Lopez

Anita O’Day – Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton

Dinah Washington – Lionel Hampton

Helen Forrest – Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry  James

Chris Connor – Stan Kenton

Frances Wayne – Woody Herman

Mary Ann McCall – Charlie Barnet, Woody Herman

Helen Humes – Count Basie


Bing Crosby – Paul Whiteman

Frank Sinatra – Harry James,  Tommy Dorsey

Perry Como – Ted Weems

Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing – Count Basie

Bob Eberly – Jimmy Dorsey

Ray Eberle – Glenn Miller

Merv Griffin – Freddy Martin

Don Cornell – Sammy Kaye

Dick Haymes – Harry James, Tommy Dorsey

Billy Eckstine – Earl Hines

Johnny Desmond – Glenn Miller

Dick Powell – Charlie Davis

These vocalists were invaluable to the popularity of the bands they performed with, but, more important, was what the big bands did for them.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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