Bing, Duke and Benny

eduardo posted 02/09/04 10:42 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I have two doubts about Bing.
First is why Bing and Benny Goodman didn`t have more of a relationship. Benny never went to Bing's radio shows and they never played together. In Benny`s biography Swing, swing, swing, Bing is not mentioned. Benny, Bing, Dorsey, Teagarden lived in the same places and time and only with Benny did Bing not have a relationship.
Second is Bing's relationship with Duke Ellington. Bing recorded two songs with Duke and Duke participated in many Bing radio shows but in his biography, Duke spend many lines in praise of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett but not any to Bing, Why?
Candace Scott posted 02/09/04 12:27 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
This is a great question and one which I have never been able to answer. As a fan of both Benny and Bing, I have a special interest in this topic.

As many of you may know, Benny was an extremely difficult man. He was known to have been rude, a cheapskate of almost mammoth proportions and such a martinet (and perfectionist), in his recordings that it drove nearly everyone away from him. Even people who usually like everyone, like Doris Day and Peggy Lee, had nothing but visceral contempt for Benny.

I've always assumed Bing knew that Benny was a pill and avoided him. This is just supposition, I have no facts to back this up. Benny was also known to have disliked male vocalists and he didn't use them. He always had female singers on his records. He made some snide references to Dorsey using Sinatra and Miller using Tex Benecke.

I've always wanted to hear Bing sing with Benny's quarter or full orchestra... another hope dashed. I know Sinatra made many snide remarks about Benny in later years. He said he was a rat, a cheapskate and a jerk.

Can anyone shed any light on the Bing-Benny non-relationship? Considering they were both giants of the recording industry at the same time, it's amazing their paths didn't cross and they were never together.
Arne posted 02/09/04 04:40 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I'm dipping into the memory banks here, for some comments I've heard attributable to the principals over the years. Sorry, but there's no way I'd be able to remember where I first heard these.........

It was conjectured that Benny appears on Bing's "World On A String" in 1932, as part of the back-up. I don't know, but I believe this may have been disproven in recent years.

Goodman is quoted (somewhere) as saying he "regrets that he and Bing didn't have more opportunities to work together...." - or something like that.

More recently, I learned that when Ellington came down with what proved to be his final illness, he consulted with Bing regarding Bing's recent recouperation from a lung illness just months before (1974). They spoke often via the phone at this time, I recall reading.

Back to Benny: Now, I'm remembering that when I had the opportunity to interview Peggy Lee in 1987, she offered the information that Benny was not accomodating to singers "like Tommy Dorsey was". Benny wouldn't change keys for the singers, etc. which would, of course, make things difficult for the vocalists,who he obviously considered to be necessary evils for anyone in the band business. I certainly didn't get the impression from her that she hated him as much as what Candace has stated, and she was grateful for the opportunities he had provided her. Maybe time had healed the wounds.
Tom Degan posted 02/09/04 05:26 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
It's interesting...Early in Benny's RCA Victor recording carreer (his 2nd or 3rd song, I believe) he recorded a piece called, I'm Livin' In A Great Big Way with the great vocalist, Buddy Clark, who a few years later would become a big star on Columbia Records before his life was ended in a tragic airplane accident in October of 1949. I could never understand why Goodman made only one recording with Buddy. This discussion could shed a little bit of light on that mystery.
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
Kevin Doherty posted 02/10/04 05:33 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Russ Connor, in his bio-discography "B.G. On the Record", asked Benny why he hadn't worked with Bing. B.G. said he knew Bing since the early days and even remembered him playing "parlor golf" in a NY apartment Benny was living in. He said that plans were made to be on Bing's radio show in the '40s, but for some reason it never happened.

While Benny did not recall the "World on a String/Honey's Lovin' Arms" session (he was notorious for a very bad memory), Connor still thinks it was Benny on the date.

i don't think there was any ill will between Bing and Benny, just that their paths didn't cross as much as Bing' did with The Dorseys, etc. Also, Benny and Bing were never with the same recoding companies at the same time
Candace Scott posted 02/10/04 11:01 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Peggy Lee just made comments on Benny being a cheapskate. Her famous quote, from in the late 70's, was, "Benny has the first dime he ever earned." Her 1942 recording with Benny, "Why Don'tcha Do Right?" is one of her greatest though!
eduardo posted 02/11/04 10:49 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
This information about Duke is in a complementary Duke Ellington biography wrote by Mercer Ellington after Duke`s dead, but it was the only one Bing citation in this book. What surprise me is the fact of in his autobiography Music is my mistress, Duke didn`t spend one word to Bing but spend many lines to praise Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett(with photos). Is possible that this occurred because when Duke wrote the book he worked with both recently and his relationship with Bing stoped in the forties.
Kevin Doherty posted 02/12/04 02:16 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Well, it's sad, since Bing was the first white jazz singer to perfom with The Duke, and on more than one occasion. He picked Bing and the Rhythm Boys to do "Three Little Words" on the Victor record and, more importantly, on the "Check and Double Check" soundtrack because they did a better job than his own trio (check Brian Rust's discography--it proves it!).

We all know that the two takes of "St. Louis Blues" are acclaimed as great jazz singing by many jazz critics, and Bing had The Duke on his radio program. Frankie was a "Johnny Come Lately".
Kevin Roberts posted 04/26/04 11:19 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Please do not "over-interpret" Duke Ellington's personal feelings as expressed in his book MUSIC IS MY MISTRESS, because he did not write the book. It was COMPLETELY ghost written by Stanley Dance, a fact that was not widely known. Duke was much too busy with the rest of his life. So perhaps we could interpret Stanley Dance's feelings about Bing, but who cares? And then, who knows what portions of Stanley Dance's manuscript were deleted by the publisher and editor?

Duke was often quoted as saying there are only two kinds of music, good music and bad music. I'm fairly certain that he would place Bing in the good music category. But then he would often acclaim something as "Beyond Category", and he probably would have said that about Bing too.
Arne posted 04/26/04 04:00 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Also on this subject (but I forgot when commenting earlier in this thread in February) is the fact that Ellington claimed for years that he would never hire a "staff" male vocalist until he could find one that had the Crosby sound. When he finally brought in the great Herb Jeffries, he encouraged him to develop as "Crosbyesque" a sound as he possibly could. Listen to Herb in such Ellington discs as "The Girl In My Dreams Tries To Look Like You", and you'll hear a very good singer, and unique, but somewhat replicating the Crosby sound, as per Ellington's wishes.

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