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Big-T & the Bada-Bings

Rembering Bing Crosby
By Tony Adams

Contrary to popular opinion, this year marks the centennial of one of the greatest entertainers of all time: Bing Crosby. Although born on May 3rd, 1903, a year was shaved off his age early in his film career by his brother Everette (who actually thought he was shaving off two years) so that Bing might appear younger to movie-goers. Consequently, most reports list his date of birth as 1904. But ATOMIC has the inside scoop, and we are proud to pay tribute to this legendary performer’s 100th birthday while the mainstream media is playing catch up.

In an amazing career that spanned decades, Crosby’s legacy sadly has been reduced to two items of note: either people think about him only during the holidays for his timeless rendition of “White Christmas,” or they want to know if he really beat his kids. That gives short shrift to an artist who personified the American Everyman on hundreds of albums, as well as on the radio, in films, and on television.

Early in his career, Crosby broke new ground in popular music by bringing Jazz to the masses in his recordings as a Rhythm Boy with Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra and as a soloist. He later became the voice millions of Americans tuned into weekly on the radio during the height of the Depression, World War II and the post-war American high life. His future accomplishments as a performer are too numerous to mention, and he reached heights no other entertainer has achieved since. This short list — taken from Gary Giddins’ wonderful biography, Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, The Early Years 1903-1940 — provides just a small taste of his monumental legacy:

  • He made more studio recordings than any other singer in history (about 400 more than Frank Sinatra)
  • Between 1927 and 1962, Crosby scored 368 charted records under his own name, plus 28 as vocalist with various bandleaders, for a total of 396. No one else has come close; compare Paul Whiteman (220), Frank Sinatra (209), Elvis Presley (149), Glenn Miller (129), Nat "King" Cole (118), Louis Armstrong (85), and the Beatles (68)
  • He financed and popularized the development of audio tape, revolutionizing the recording industry
  • He scored more number one hits than anyone in music history: 38 for Bing, as compared to 24 by the Beatles and 18 by Elvis Presley

All of this by a guy who was raised with a Jesuit education by a strict mother and a happy-go-lucky father.

A celebration of Bing’s birthday was held earlier in the year in his hometown of Spokane, WA, and there are plans for a shindig to be held in New York City. With the confusion surrounding his date of birth, the centennial celebration will likely last well over a year. The extended tribute — like the man himself — will be a blessing to us all.

Behind in your reading?
Check out past ATOMIC features.

Dear Dottie
1999 Articles List
2000 Articles List
2001 Articles List
2002 Articles List
2003 Articles List
2004 Articles List
Remembering Bing Crosby
Carnival Knowledge
Vintage Skivvies Lets It All Hang Out
Destroy Puny Humans!
Broadway By the Year: 1939
Michael Lesy's Altered States
RCR Turns Up The Heat
Super Bowl of Go-Go


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