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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » C » Crosby, Bing

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Bing Crosby (5/03/1903 - 10/14/1977)

Harry Lillis Crosby
Vocalist, Actor, Lyricist, Drummer, Golfer

Bing Crosby was one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. He was the first white male singer deeply influenced by jazz and a great admirer of jazz artists, especially Louis Armstrong.

Crosby’s career began as a drummer and vocalist with college chum Al Rinker (brother of vocalist Mildred Bailey). The two drove from Tacoma, Washington to Los Angeles in 1926, where Bailey found them work in vaudeville. They were soon hired by orchestra-leader Paul Whiteman, who teamed them with pianist/vocalist/composer Harry Barris billing them as The Rhythm Boys. As a part of the trio, Crosby made his first film appearance in the King of Jazz in 1930.

The jazz-playing members of Whiteman’s orchestra impressed Crosby, especially cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, and he later employed Joe Venuti (violin) and Eddie Lang (guitar), who became his permanent accompanist in 1932.

Crosby and the Rhythm Boys were fired by Whiteman in 1930 and went to work for Los Angeles bandleader Gus Arnheim. That year the trio appeared in the film Check and Double Check accompanied by Duke Ellington’s Orchestra. Also during this period Crosby cemented his life-long friendship with Louis Armstrong, eventually leading to appearances together in film.




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