Bing's recording record

Jas posted 03/19/02 09:15 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Gary Giddins makes the claim that Bing recorded more than anyone. I wrote to Giddins (no reply) pointing out that Henry Burr had recorded far more than Crosby, although he used a number of aliases, as was common practice for many early recording artists. I don't have a count on the number of discs on which Irving Kaufman appeared, but it may well be more than Crosby...None of this takes anything away from either Crosby or Giddins, who wrote a spectacularly good book.
Jim Kukura posted 03/19/02 08:16 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I don't know exactly what Giddins had in mind, but in the days of Murray and Burr, the technology was not developed to get many pressings out of a master recording, so they would record the same song many times to replace worn out masters, which obviously meant many actual recordings, but only because it was meant to be an extension of the original recording. Sort of like Bing's 1947 re-recording of "White Christmas". If bing had recorded that during the Burr/Murray time period, i think he would have had to live at the studio.
Rod posted 03/24/02 06:51 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Australia's Peter Dawson, known in his heyday as 'The World's Most Popular Baritone' recorded from 1904 - 1958. His output was also comparable to Bing's - but what's it matter ?
Greg Van Beek posted 03/24/02 10:14 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Rod, How can Peter Dawson be known as 'The World's Most Popular Baritone'if no one has ever heard of him? I certainly haven't. He may be known around Australia, but certainly not in the US.
rich posted 03/24/02 01:19 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Greg and Rod. I never heard of him either, and I'm probably twice your age..However, there is some interesting stuff about him in Google..I think there is a fairly recent book on him, as
Rod posted 03/25/02 04:54 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Greg, Technically you're correct. ..Dawson's publicists probably over-hyped him ! His fame extended predominantly to 'The British Empire' of the day; with the bulk of his 2,000 or so recordings cut in London - plus extensive concert tours of the UK, Ireland, South Africa, India and Ceylon, the Malay States, Australia, New Guinea and New Zealand...The 1984 'Guiness Book Of Recorded Sound' chose ten singers for it's all time Hall Of Fame. Elected were : Enrico Caruso, Peter Dawson, John McCormack, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams and The Beatles...Rich, thanks for checking out Google. As you say, Dawson's career makes for interesting reading...However, I'm not really trying to sell anyone on Peter Dawson ! In fact, Bing's my number one by far ! I'm simply pointing out that other performers had comparable recorded outputs - and that it doesn't really matter ! Let's face it, any singer who goes the distance over a 50 year plus career is quite exceptional...
Mike posted 03/30/02 05:40 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I must say I was more than a little surprised to find out that so few people on the Board ever heard of the Australian baritone,Peter Dawson, who was mentioned earlier by Rod. Surprised because I can think of few classical singers - John McCormack and Richard Tauber excepted - who were as well known and loved by the general public as Peter Dawson was. The latter distinction is an important one. Very few people, I imagine, have not heard of Maria Callas. Yet, what proportion of those who have heard ever bought her records or attended her concerts? Callas made few, if any, concessions to popular taste. People who buy her recordings, one can presume, are genuine opera lovers...By contrast, the British contralto, Kathleen Ferrier, has a large and very devoted following on the strength of songs such as "Blow The Wind Southerly", the musical setting of Katherine Tynan's Easter Poem, "The Spanish Lady" etc. I suspect that a much smaller proportion would wish to hear her sing Mahler or Schubert, though there is the inevitable overlapping of both groupings...The same could be said in more recent times about the work of Kiri Te Kanawa, thanks to her Songs of the Auvergne and her forays into the Broadway Musical. By this stage, howevever, "crossover" traffic had become much more acceptable than it was back in Dawson's day. He was compelled to use a number of pseudonyms when recording lighter music. No such restrictions apply to Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras and company who record at the present time...Of course, the same division can be found in Jazz. Millions think of Louis Armstrong primarily in terms of "Hello Dolly" and "Blueberry Hill". How many of those would be interested in, say, his 1947 "Muskrat Ramble" or in the earlier, instrumental version of "Sleepy Time Down South"?..What made Dawson special is that he occupied the solid middle ground. He sang wonderful songs of the English countryside such as "Glorious Devon" and the Cornish "Floral Dance". He had a particular affinity for Kipling("On the Road to Mandalay")and sang a beautifully evocative version of Kipling's "Boots", the music of which he composed himself. Needless to say, his version of "Waltzing Matilda" is definitive. I am not sure that I would call his baritone rich exactly, but it was very clear and his diction was always impeccable. He also sang Handel, Elgar, Vaughan Williams as well as operetta. My sources agree with Rod..He is supposed to have made more than three thousand recordings, though I have seen the figure of two thousand also quoted...His connection with Crosby is tenuous and less than pleasing. He made a somewhat slighting reference to Bing in his autobiography. It is so long since I read it that I cannot attempt a paraphrase, let alone a quotation. However, I do recall the gist of what he had to say. He acknowledged Bing's great popularity(the main part of their respective careers covered much the same period), but suggested that Bing and other popular singers of his ilk took the easy way out. The trained, classical singer was attempting something much more difficult. It was a craft that demanded much discipline and application. One suspects, reading between the lines, that Dawson resented the fact that it was not more handsomely remunerated.
Rod posted 03/31/02 12:25 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
Thanks for your thoughts, Mike...Your mention of Peter Dawson's "slighting reference" to Bing prompted further investigation. ..In 1939, Melbourne radio personality Norman Banks asked Dawson to expound on the popularity of crooning. His reply that "a first-class singer can never be a crooner, and a crooner can never be a first class singer," angered Crosby fans...The following letter to the Editor - 'Radio Times' (June 17, 1939) captures the mood....."It is just like Peter Dawson's impudence to refer to Bing Crosby's crooning as mooing. It should be very interesting to hear Bing's opinion of Peter Dawson's singing. It might, by a strange chance coincide, with mine. I can't stand a bar of Peter Dawson. No doubt there are people who like Mr. Dawson's voice, but I'll guarantee that if Mr. Dawson was broadcasting from one station and Bing from another, Bing would have a decidedly larger listening audience."..All this, and 'Crooner versus the Swooner' (Sinatra) was still to come....
Mike posted 03/31/02 06:32 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
A very interesting letter that, Rod, and a commendable piece of investigation on your part. My word, you did go back quite a distance to unearth that particular gem! I had another look at the late Henry Pleasants' "The Great American Popular Singers". In the introduction he tells of how he(a trained classical singer) was a newspaper music critic just when Bing's career was beginning to burgeon. He goes on to write:."I heartily shared the distaste for crooning, as it was then called, common among most people closely associated with classical music.".Later on, he explains that he was very much a product of his era when there was still a rigid barrier between the older European tradition and the new Afro-American music just emerging. He mentions the 1930s, but I think that barrier continued until much later. The English 'quality papers' barely acknowledged the existence of this newer music until well after the advent of the Beatles. One famous music critic of the "Sunday Times", I recall, was shocked that any intelligent person would bring such a record with him to a desert island. This was in reference to the previous week's DESERT ISLAND DISCS(radio programme). He gleefully quoted a colleague who had dismissed such dreadful people as "Croonuchs"..Perhaps, if Peter Dawson had lived a little longer, he may have experienced the same kind of conversion that Henry Pleasants underwent.
r.b.mooney posted 06/30/04 11:19 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Nelson Eddy was no slouch. He was well trained and sang Grand Opera, Light Opera, Musicals, and Romantic Love songs. I'd like to see a comparison between Dawson and Eddy: who entertained the most people regardless of medium.

Also, about Bing's voice: I personally knew of four U.S. opera singers who never missed a Crosby program whether prerecorded or not. Music teachers told me and other singer friends that Crosby had an unequaled bass/baritone "sound" that could only be described as beautiful. No one will ever take that away from Bing let alone improve on his "sound." We all imitated Bing!
Ron Field posted 07/01/04 11:09 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I can understand why a number of people had never heard of Australia's Peter Dawson as a good number don't even know where Australia (and some other countries are located).
By the way, have you heard of Dame Nellie Melba? (Peach Melba and Melba toast were named after her). Dame Nellie retired a good number of times and made the same number of comebacks. Thus we have a saying that a person has made more comebacks that Dame Nellie Melba.
Then there are a few other well known Australians - Joan Hammond, Joan Sutherland, Errol Flynn, Cecil Kellaway, Rod Taylor, Leon Errol, Rolf Harris, Frank Sedgeman and Ken McGregor (Wimbledon winners) and possibly the most famous of all - the late Don Bradman - regarded as the greatest cricketing batsman of all time. Ask those in the UK, South Africa, the West Indies, the sub-continent.
There is a world outside the U.S.
Ron Field
Steve Carras posted 07/02/04 12:08 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
The late Ben Selvin, a pioneering and longlived (in terms of both career and otherwise) dance bandleader going as far back as 1917 (in his late teens!!) recorded more than anyone.

Maybe around 100,000 recordings of some 2000-9000 selections!

(Read;DARDENELLA onweards..and that's just the chart hits!)
Dennis V posted 01/20/06 07:11 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Give us all a break! When Gary Giddens, an unimpeachable authority on Bing and the Genesis of American Jazz, states the obvious, i.e. that no one has more recordings than Bing, please don't demean the entire discussion by mentioning someone like Henry Burr who, by your own admission used numerous aliases and was never a major player on the American musical scene. Bing SHAPED the American musical idiom for decades, and is unparalleled in his musical and cultural achievement.

By the way, you are correct in calling Gary Giddens' book "spectacular". We are all better off for his writing it.--Dennis V.
Jim Kukura posted 01/22/06 08:01 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
First of all, I'm sure glad I don't come here for history lessons. In Henry Burr's day (and make no mistake about the fact that Burr was one of the greatest recording artists of all time), the record masters did not last very long, and Burr would have to rerecord the same song several times to be able to issue enough records. It is also true he recorded for various labels under other names. But he had to rerecord the same song and he had to record for various labels because he was in great demand, and that was because he was a talented artist who sang songs in the manner that people of his day enjoyed hearing songs presented.
Arne posted 01/23/06 12:12 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
On the subject of the notable "pre-historic" recording pioneers who recorded under aliases for various labels and would, technically, have racked up more total sides than Bing, I'd always heard that the guy to beat was Vernon Dahlhart(sp?)
John Walton posted 01/23/06 12:53 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Peter Dawson was born in 1882 and began singing professionally around 1906, so he pre-dated Bing by 20 years or so. He was a classically trained baritone with a powerful, clearly articulated voice, and immensely popular all over the world. It's easy to imagine how dismayed he might have been to find himself superceded in this popularity by an untrained upstart crooner. But he continued to be very popular with people who enjoyed light classics, performing a wide variety of songs from sea shanties to Victorian parlour favourites, but all in that classically crafted style.
When I was a small child, my Dad occasionally treated me to Peter Dawson's rendition of 'In A Monastery Garden', complete with chirping birds. I believe Ray Noble conducted the orchestra on that recording.
Like Bing, Peter Dawson had a long career, his last performance being in Adelaide in 1960. He died in 1961.
Ron Field posted 01/23/06 05:33 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
The LP I played is called 'Peter Dawson - A Song For Everyone'.
The write up states 1892.
It further says that he was under the tuition of Frank L. Bamford and later Sir Charles Santley and after training toured with Mme Albani, being particularly accalimed for his performance at Covent Garden.
This may help with 'year of birth'.
Will have to get onto Google for a search.
Thanks to those that commented on Peter and I didn't know about family fued and Hogan's Heros.
Ron Field

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