A Story from Les Brown

Talking about and listening to Doris Day, the singer.
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Musiclover
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A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by Musiclover » 03 May 2017, 01:50

Hi, all -

Just came across a 1988 book by recording industry executive Joe Smith titled "Off the Record," a collection of interviews he had with more than 200 songwriters, singers, band leaders, and musicians. Les Brown was one of them, and I thought this part of his recollection might be of interest to forum members:

"In 1939 we needed a girl singer. We hadn’t been very lucky with girl singers until that point. A song plugger told me that Bob Crosby was at the Strand Theater and he had a young kid from Cincinnati named Doris Day [who] had given her notice. The song plugger said, 'Why don’t you go hear her?' After I heard her, I went backstage and we made a deal right away.

"I told her at the time, 'I’m afraid we won’t keep you long; the movies will be after you.' While we were at the Café Rouge in the Hotel Pennsylvania, where we played twice a year for 6 weeks for 5 years in a row, they came in and set up screen tests for her. Twice she didn’t even show up because she was scared.

"Doris’s sound was very good and her pitch was perfect. I never heard her out of tune on any note, ever. Even when the arranger came in with something that was a little high for her, she still hit those notes. You’d have to put her down as one of the great singers of all time. Doris could sing anything; it didn’t make a difference what it was.

"[W]e had quite a hit on a thing called My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time, which she didn’t want to do. She cried [but] I talked her into doing it and it became a hit. Later I kidded her, 'You didn’t want to do My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time, and then when you get on your own you start doing things like Que Sera, Sera. Where is your thinking?,' I’d say, winking."

I think Doris probably learned a good part of her technical skill from working with Brown, whose formal education in music began earlier and was more extensive than that of many band leaders who were his contemporaries. (Even before he got a full high school scholarship -- he graduated as valedictorian -- he had already studied music composition, theory, and orchestration for 3 years at the prestigious Ithaca Conservatory.)

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Jas1
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Re: A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by Jas1 » 03 May 2017, 05:39

Thanks Musiclover for that- very interesting - especially the bit about the movies calling - long before Romance on the High Seas - love reading that.

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jmichael
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Re: A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by jmichael » 03 May 2017, 07:53

That is a great find indeed and very interesting.

Thanks for posting this.

Michael
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"There's nothing in my bedroom that bothers me."

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Peter Flapper
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Re: A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by Peter Flapper » 03 May 2017, 11:03

Hi Musiclover,

Great story by Les. Had heard of that movie calling, but not from Les. It was in one of the fan magazines of that time. Can't quote it, sorry, lost the website where it was on. Can't find it back.

Thanks for sharing.

P

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Peter Flapper
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Re: A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by Peter Flapper » 13 Aug 2017, 18:16

Hi all,

Came across this letter from Doris about Les and the band.
Image

P

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Johnny
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Re: A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by Johnny » 13 Aug 2017, 19:07

Thank you so much Musiclover for the fascinating article on Les and Doris. It is striking how fate and circumstance can influence so many lives forever. By Les Brown's grace and intelligence he recognized how gifted Doris was as a singer and the potential she had. The single act of going to hear her sing affected the course of Doris' career. What a wonderful story! Thanks again.

Peter, thank you as well for posting Doris' beautiful, caring letter about Les Brown. It is clear the affection she holds for all the boys in the band lives on.

It would be wonderful to read other letters Doris has written about others in her professional life. There is an elegance in her writing that reflects Doris' beautiful and thoughtful spirit.
Johnny

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Jas1
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Re: A Story from Les Brown

Unread post by Jas1 » 14 Aug 2017, 05:29

I agree Johnny, and I thank you too Peter for sharing the precious letter. The love oozes out.

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