Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finding Patty Andrews

Well, Van Alexander ( the Big Band leader who wrote "A Tisket-A Tasket",and LeeHale, who was the musical director for the Dean Martin TV show for it's entire run of nine years, trekked out to Patty's house and practically knocked the door in to find her. She hadn't been answering her phone or answering the door bell. We finally got her to write up a foreword for my upcoming book H*A*R*M*O*N*Y which will feature her Andrews Sisters story and the Mills Brothers, Ink Spot, McQuires, and dozens of other singing groups of the 20s to the 80s.
I have been receiving many nice fan letters on the book STAR*DUST-The Bible of the Big Bands as well as my 2002 Crosby Book. Today I received a wonderful tribute Christmas letter from Lydia Heston, wife of my good friend Charlton Heston, whom  I considered one of the Top Ten movie stars of all time. We always wrote back and forth for many years after first meeting him at a book signing in Huntington where we exchanged books and signatures.
Another friend, Larry O'Brien, who had been musical director for the Glenn Miller Orchestra for many years, finally has retiredwith his lovely wife Judy. I received a Christmas card from their new home in Hawaii, where they plan to live out their lives. Larry and I first met when William B. Williams of New York's radio station WNEW where he presided over the famed "Make Believe Ballroom" disc jockey show. We were at the Westbury Music Fair working in a show that featured Margaret Whiting, Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. That was in 1982 and we have been pals ever since. Larry directed one of his last performances at the Patchogue Theater in late November 2010.The young  Miller players were just sensational. I have also been working on Lee Hale's autobiography, editing and formatting. Look for it on amazon in about March of 2011.Great batch of stories as Lee worked with just about every living personality  as director of music ans sketches for Dean Martin's television variety show. That's it for now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kay Starr-Happy Birthday and other news.

Well, on July 25th Big Band host Chris Valenti on WYYR-Yesteryear Radio, had an on-air birthday party for Kay Starr. You remember Kay-"Wheel of Fortune," "Rock and Roll Waltz," and other favorites. Van Alexander, bandleader and co-author with Ella Fitzgerald on their tune " A Tisket-A-Tasket," that everlasting tune from way back when, was present, as was I, Peter Marshall, Bandleader Ben Grisafi, and others who spent 90 minutes talking over old times and her career. Kay Starr has always been an appreciative artist. She sang with Charlie Barnet, Glenn Miller ( On only two sides "Love with a Capitol You," and "Baby Me," when Marion Hutton was unavailable at the time.)
We have to sadly report that Patty Andrews husband Wally Weschler, her piano player and manager, passed away. Patty is worried about staying alone, but many are coming to her rescue.
Frankie Dee, leader of GMMY Radio just had a heart bypass and is already back to work dispensing our kind of music. And, of course, Tony Bennett is still tearing them up all over the place, from Italy, from England and Wales, and venues all over the globe,  and receiving deserving accolades from everywhere he performs, this according to his great follower Mark Fox from the UK who sends us almost daily reviews and comments about Tony's tour.
Sinatra Singing is going well and listed high with, being # 1 in relevance. One of the young stars of the book, Dana Marcine, is scoring well with her album "Crossing Lights" receiving a great review from Chris Spector of the Midwest Review who says, "it's not often that you get a new jazz diva that writes her own rather than dip into the chestnuts, but Marcine is out to break the mold. This album is a nice set of satisfying dult listening that works well throughout."
We are thinking about writing a book about songwriter Ervin Drake who wrote " It's a Very Good Year," "I Believe," "Al Di La," among many more including "Good Morning Heartache," for Billie Holiday. I am having a Sunday brunch with him in late September to work it out.
Actress Rhonda Fleming and Pat Boone both wrote nice letters praising "Sinatra Singing." And lastly, it was great to see Tony B. Babino at the annual Al Jolson festival in Oceanside New York where he performed Jolson and his own song " Fifty Years" which is the most played recording on Long Island station WHLI. He sang it beautifully with his golden voice and the couples filled the dance floor with golden smiles.
Talk to you soon.
Richard Grudens

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Sinatra Book is out! It's called Sinatra Singing

I am happy to say that I finally produced a book about America’s greatest singer FRANK SINATRA. This book is special in that it’s strictly about singing and singers: Sinatra Singing.
For this book I called upon a wide variety of artists who were asked to explain how they sing, how they practice their craft, especially before a recording session or in preparation for a live concert, and if they learned anything from Sinatra by listening or studying him.  Did Sinatra inspire them? If so, they tell us about it.
You will find lots of things not included in this book. Things that are usually part of most Sinatra books: The Rat Pack, Ava Gardner and his other wives and friends,  the angst and trouble that filled some of Sinatra’s life.
This is a book about  SINATRA SINGING. Inside you will meet his arrangers, conductors, musicians, the songwriters, the songs, technical notes on bel canto, breathing, vocal cord problems, conquering stage fright, song polls taken over the years, singing instruction, the albums, and more.
This is the Sinatra book that is indeed different, and that clears away all the dust and let’s you in on the important aspects of Sinatra’s singing career.  You will love the great selection of  250 photos. Many are rare. 
Thanks, once again, and hope you enjoy Sinatra Singing