America has produced some great American pop and rock performers. I’ve paid tribute to some of them here: Tom Petty, The Rascals, Credence Clearwater Revival, Jack White (see more in the Singer category). But I believe the finest popular music America has ever produced came during the big band era, most notably from Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.
Tommy’s first success came with his brother Jimmy in the late 1920s, but they had different musical directions in mind, and split to form their own orchestras in 1935. One of Tommy Dorsey’s hallmarks was his ability to surround himself with great musicians. Among those who sang or played in his band were Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Doc Severinsen, Buddy DeFranco, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa.
Tommy Dorsey and his smooth trombone placed a phenomenal 286 songs on the Billboard charts, with 17 making it to number one. Among his most memorable songs:
- “Little White Lies”
- “I’ll Never Smile Again”
- “I’m Gettin’ Sentimental Over You”
- “Opus One”
- “Music, Maestro Please”
- “Hawaiian War Chant”
- “The Lady is a Tramp”
Dorsey’s recordings of “I’ll Never Smile Again,” “Marie,” and his theme song, “I’m Gettin’ Sentimental Over You,” have been inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame. One side note…Tommy and Jimmy made up in the 1950s, and had a TV show called Stage Show. Its claim to fame is that it marked the first television appearance of a young Southerner named Elvis – before his famous Ed Sullivan Show gig.