The Musicians with character

As radio, records and film made traditional singers more recognizable many welcomed the attraction of fame. Popular singers had always been lauded and many would have reputations that would go before them, but now the audience was expanding and some were having to deal with the trappings of fame.

The start of the twentieth century saw the introduction of the record industry. Before that the only way that singers could be heard was when they performed live. Now they were able to record their best performances of their favorite records and this provided a welcome source of income.

This worked two ways. Firstly their greater exposure meant that they were now appreciated by a wider fan base, and secondly more money was being paid to the performers. The new avenue into films and television was exploited and the top performers were now receiving attractive salaries.

Bing Crosby sold over 60 million discs

Bing Crosby sold over 60 million discs

Bing Crosby sold over 60 million discs

There was now a shift from performers who were traditional singers to those who could be termed as pop stars. Bing Crosby was a performer who was a traditional singer who sang songs that had been written to prove attractive to the major audiences.

He sold millions of records and started as a regular singers in Jazz bands. Over time he developed his solo career and song writers were only too willing to write him catchy songs. His popularity rose with his record sales and it wasn’t long before he started appearing on Hollywood film sets.

The exposure he was now benefiting from was just increasing his record sales, and sponsorship and commercials soon followed. Crosby was creating an avenue that many more would follow and he was the first of what was popularly known as the crooners. These were singers who aided by the new microphone could sing softly in a “conversational style”.

It is claimed that 60 million Crosby disks have been produced and as his popularity rose other acts started to appear. Not far behind was Frank Sinatra who was the first star to have screaming female fans.

Like Crosby Sinatra emerged from a background of jazz band music. As his career developed his songs became more appealing to the general public, with a number of eager writers producing catchy tunes. Sinatra was a big movie start and craved the pop star life style.

Dean Martin at home in a Las Vegas Casino

Dean Martin at home in a Las Vegas Casino

Dean Martin at home in a Las Vegas Casino

He was soon appearing in Las Vegas where he worked as the resident performer in a number of different casinos. He then became associated with the underworld who had connections with the mafia and was actually barred from holding a gambling license in Nevada for 17 years.

It was common knowledge that Sinatra, along with fellow rat pack members Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, loved to gamble but Sinatra constantly tried to distance himself away from his ties with the mob bosses. Eventually his ban was lifted and he was able to claim a license.

It would have been interesting to see how the rat pack would have coped with the availability of on-line gambling today.  Dean Martin famously once insisted that the croupier dealt him cards from a single pack and of course if he was playing today on sites such as pokerstarscasino.com he would not be afforded this luxury.

It was unlike Martin to lose his cool as he was known as the King of Cool. He sang in the crooner style but never had the strongest voice. He overcame this with his charisma and his natural good lucks which television and the movies made the most of. The rat pack made the most of their times in the casinos of Las Vegas, and no one was quite certain when one of them had arranged to play a solo concert who was actually going to appear.

Jazz emerged in the 1920s and 1930s and Dizzy Gillespie played a huge part in making the genre more popular. He was a virtuoso of the trumpet and started out idolizing the great Roy Eldridge. Over time he adapted his style to make it his very own. He had a bent horn and he was responsible for introducing be-pop music with his later career devote to it.

However he was also strong willed and this led to a number of confrontations.  One of his early jobs was playing in the respected Cab Calloway Orchestra. He had problems controlling his mischievous humor and Calloway became frustrated with Gillespie.

Dizzy Gillespie and his unusual trumpet

Dizzy Gillespie and his unusual trumpet

Dizzy Gillespie and his unusual trumpet

Too many times Gillespie would play to his own tune in the band and it all came to a head over a spit ball incident. A spit ball was thrown at Calloway during a rehearsal and he immediately blamed Gillespie who denied it. A fist fight erupted which ended with Calloway being stabbed in the leg. Gillespie was fired.

His strong opinions resulted in him entering the 1964 Presidential Campaign. He promised that if he were elected the White House would change its name to the Blues House. His cabinet would have comprised of Miles Davies, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Malcolm X, among others.

He never got the chance to install his cabinet but this reflected his larger than life character. There are many more musicians who have relied as much on their character as they have on their music to sell records. Media exposure has opened up a brand new world.

 

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