Friday, October 22, 2010

So Many Choices ---

I spent some time today thinking about all of the musicians - vocal, orchestral, solo; composers, lyricists - there are so many it is hard to decide which ones are most interesting. I was looking through some material and came across Horace Heidt. I remember him, but then, not only am I old, I had much older siblings and I remember their music too. Don't feel bad if you don't remember Horace. You're probably much too young.

Heidt was born in in 1901 (and died in 1987). Like many kids, his mother made him take piano lessons and he actually became quite accomplished. However, he did not publicly play very often. In the early twenties he was attending University of California and sustained a serious back injury. But for that, he would probably chosen a career in athletics. But he moved on in his music and got a job with a small band which featured a mascot, a trained German shepherd named LOBO. Throughout his career he continued to include some "offbeat" antics in his performances which were derided as corny by his contemporaries. But his public enjoyed them.

Heidt gained credibility and popularity as he joined a traveling show and in the early thirties he arrived in New York. As his reputation increased got engagements in places such as the Palace Theater. The competition was tough and his popularity waned. He then picked up a band and returned to California. He had an unsuccessful stint opening for Fred Waring (he "stole" some of Waring's arrangements and played them in the from the pit opening, before Waring could play them on stage.) He then moved on to Chicago where he played at the Drake Hotel for six years. It was from there that he got a spot in radio, with a fourteen piece band, a glee club, and featuring Alvino Rey on guitar, and the vocals of the King Sisters. Moving to the Biltmore in New York he developed the "Pot of Gold" , one of the first give-away shows.

The program used a spinning dial, telephone directory and phone call to the number selected b the dial. The person who answered the phone received a prize of $1000 which was a lot of money in those days. The program was so popular it was made into a movie with the band and all of its stars.

Going into the forties, Heidt's popularity grew. He moved into swing, hired some of the best musicians including members of the Glen Miller Band when Miller went into the service. During the war, because the draft was thinning the ranks, he ran an ad in Billboard offering top pay to any musician who was free to join him.

In 1943 Heidt went into retirement. He was fairly wealthy and the war was on. But in 1946 he assembled the "Youth Opportunity Show" . The show traveled across the nation, and everywhere it went it packed in the audience, utilizing amateur talent which rivaled the old Major Bowes Show, and produced a number of successful musicians. Think of Dick Contino, Al Hirt, Pat Boone, Nino Tempo, Ken Berry, Florence Henderson, Pete Fountain, and Dean Jones.

Heidt really did not shine as a musician, being more of a producer, but he did consistently lead a band and perform. Horace Heidt died in 1986 at the age of 85. (NOTE: I found two different dates of birth/death which differed by only a year each. I think this is the most likely one.)

Check out Horace Heidt Estates if you are interested in learning about a ranch which he purchased in Van Nuys . It has been "home" to a "boatload" of famous entertainers. The property includes an 18-hold golf course, an aviary and seven waterfalls. It was originally a horse ranch owned by King Charney, President oif Eastman-Kodak. It's an interesting story.

Horace Heidt's theme song was "I'll Love You In My Dreams"

You can listen to it on the internet in your favorite music site.
I always read Peanuts. Those little kids are always giving me a chuckle. Yesterday I was both amused and empathetic. Schroeder is laboriously playing a complicated piece at his little one-octave piano. Lucy, who constantly tries to get more of his attention, is resting against the piano listening. Schroeder finishes and says triumphantly, "I played it all the way through without one error." and Lucy, who rarely pays a compliment anyway, says "LUCK!".

I seldom play anything through with out an error and I call those my signature adaptations.

Keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


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