Peggy Lee with the Benny Goodman Orch: Winter Weather

December 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm (Christmas, jazz, Jim D)

A little-known song that was, apparently, intended as a Christmas hit, but never made it. Goodman’s 1941 band was one of his best, with Big Lou McGarity on trombone, Mel Powell on piano, Dave Tough (by the sound of it) on drums, and Peggy Lee the female vocalist. The male vocalist was Art Lund (aka London).

Peg described her time with Goodman thus:

“That first night with Benny I remember singing ‘My Old Flame’. The critics were cruel. They captioned a photo of me in Downbeat magazine, ‘Sweet Sixteen and will never be missed’. I had a cold, and I was singing in Helen Forrest’s key. I went to Benny and said, ‘I’d like to quit, please.’

“He just looked at me. ‘I won’t let you.’

“So I stayed with Benny, though it did mean taking a decrease in salary, and there were no more lavish gowns from Mlle Oppenheimer. But there were career advantages. Advantages for Benny as well, because I had in my possession a wind-up phonograph and a recording by Lil Green called ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?’ Benny paid me ten dollars for recording ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?‘ and no royalties. My weekly salary was seventy five dollars, out of which I had to pay my own room and board. ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?’ became the biggest-selling record in America when we released it a couple of years later. It stayed there for a long time and still sells.”

Goodman had even less time for “boy” vocalists, like Art Lund, who was (apparently) a good-looking, clean-cut guy, popular with the public. In a 1946 interview, Goodman told Metronome magazine:

“To me all boy singers are bad, they’re not musicians. You can’t even take the best of them seriously. How often do you listen to a record just for the vocal, I know I never do. It’s just something you’ve got to do because the public wants it and if I have to have a boy singer with me it might as well be one the public likes. And they certainly seem to like Art. So more power to him.”

A somewhat back-handed compliment.

1 Comment

  1. Todd Mason said,

    Benny was so famously a sweetheart for precisely this kind of business…

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