Jazz Stars: Bing Crosby

Today, on the birthday of Bing Crosby – American singer and actor, a story about the life of the musician and new selection of musical compositions that he performs.

Bing Cosby (full name Harry Lillis Crosby) – one of the most successful performers in U.S. history; the founder and master of the pop-jazz crooner style of singing, was known as the first performer of many later popular jazz hits (including swing and dixieland). For the musical drama "Going Your Own Way" the musician won the 1944 Oscar for Best Actor. His Christmas hit "White Christmas" is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling single of all time.

Crosby got his nickname in childhood for his passion for collecting newspaper and magazine clippings: when the boy was six years old, the neighbourhood children began to call him "Bingo from Bingville" because of his love for the humorous issue "The Bingville Bugle". Later, the last vowel in the word "Bingo" fell off, and the nickname stayed with Crosby for the rest of his life.

Harry Lillis Crosby was born on May 3, 1903, in Tacoma, Washington, United States. Harry Crosby's mother was an Irish-American and his father was of English descent. Harry was the fourth of seven children of the Crosby family.

In high school, the young man began to perform in a jazz band, which broke up two years after its creation. Crosby sang in a duet with Al Rinker, whose sister, jazz singer Mildred Bailey, helped the friends find work in nightclubs and introduced them to the best white bandleader of the time – Paul Whiteman. At Whiteman's suggestion, Crosby organized the vocal trio "Rhythm Boys" and soon became a regular in Whiteman's concert engagements (1926-1930). The success of the ensemble was promoted by recordings ("Mississippi Mud", "I'm Coming Virginia") and participation in the movie about Whiteman's orchestra - "The King Of Jazz" (1930) that launched Crosby's career as a singer, songwriter and movie actor.

In 1928, his single with the song "Ol' Man River" climbed to number one on the national charts. The success led Bing succumbed to stardom. He started abusing alcohol, clashed with Whiteman. And soon convinced the rest of the trio to join the Orchestra of Gus Arnheim. However, even there the trio did not last long. All the emphasis in the activities of the trio was on Bing, there was a rift and a quarrel in the group. And eventually Crosby left the trio and began a solo career.

By the beginning of his independent career, Crosby had developed a special, individual style of pop microphone singing. The very fact of using a microphone allowed the artist to perform his songs in a more lyrical, softer manner than was customary in those years. Such singing was called crooning (something between singing to oneself and rhythmic recitation) and made Bing Crosby an object of worship for the widest possible audience. In September 1931, Crosby's first solo radio performance took place, and at the end of the year he was contracted to host a weekly program that became very popular. He performed with the Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and was active in movies. In 1941, he starred with Jack Teagarden in “The Birth of the Blues”, a film about the fate of the musicians of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, as well as in the films with Fred Astaire – “Holiday Inn” (1942), “The Bells of St. Mary's” (1945) and “Blue Skies” (1946), in “High Society” (1956) and others; in 1944, the musician was awarded an Academy Award for his role in “Going My Way”. The song performed by Bing Crosby, "White Christmas," made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, with more than 50 million copies of the single sold worldwide.

During the war, Crosby starred in eight feature films, twelve short films, and recorded 160 songs. Crosby spent a total of 25 weeks touring with concerts for soldiers. His fundraising activities contributed to the sale of millions of dollars worth of war bonds . When after the war a survey was conducted among American soldiers, it turned out that the leader of raising the morale of soldiers was Crosby, who overtook even President Roosevelt.

In 1953, the musician published an autobiographical book, “Call Me Lucky”. By the mid-1960s, he somewhat reduced concert activity, switching to individual studio work. By the end of the decade, Crosby's star gradually began to fade, although sometimes he still managed to make records that sold out in quantity. August 16, 1977 Bing Crosby gave his last concert at home. In September, together with singer Rosemary Clooney, they began a concert through England. In England, Crosby recorded his last album, “Seasons”, and a television Christmas program with special guest David Bowie. His last concert was held in Brighton four days before his death.

After completing the tour in England, Crosby flew to Spain to devote some time to one of his hobbies – golf. On the evening of October 14, 1977, after a successful game in the suburbs of Madrid, he fell on the grass and died of a massive heart attack. His last words were, "It was a great game of golf, guys."

Crosby was a trendsetter of popular song tunes fashion for several decades (1930s–1950s). As one of the first crooner singers, he can rightfully be counted among the founders of a whole stratum of American popular music culture and vocal performance school of intimate and lyrical song style. This school relies on cantilena melodism, a softened type of swing rhythm, finely nuanced, transparent orchestral sound with the typical use of a "singing" string band (sweep sound).

Аdapted from