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Mel Torme

Guru Casper BN-ZERO 2011/09/14 00:14:21
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Birth: Sep. 13, 1925
Death: Jun. 5, 1999
Jazz singer, Actor, Composer, Author. Nicknamed "The Velvet Fog," he was a performer almost from the beginning and always said his introduction and love of Jazz was acquired from his birthplace and exposure to music in the black section of Chicago. He was born Melvin Howard Torma to a musical family, his father, a Russian immigrant owned a dry goods store He began singing publicly at the age of four at a restaurant, then make his professional debut with the Coon-Sanders Orchestra. At age nine, he was doing parts for Chicago radio plays "Romance of Helen Trent" and "Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy" while a snare drummer in the Shakespeare Elementary School drum and bugle corps in Chicago. In high school, he formed his own band and sold his first written song, "Lament of Love," to Harry James who made a recording. In early 1940, he quit high school to become a singer, drummer and arranger with Chico Marx's band. In 1944, Mel formed his own vocal group, the Mel-Tones which produced the hit, "What is This Thing Called Love?" which has become a jazz standard. He was drafted for a time during World War II but was quickly discharged with flat feet. Mel became a successful solo artist in 1947 and soon had a number one hit in "Careless Love." He made over 50 Albums during his career but recorded his best while collaborating with George Shearing on several excellent albums, "An Evening With George Shearing and Mel Torme" and "Top Drawer" which earned him a Granny for Best Male Jazz Vocalist in 1982 and 1983. He made a career with television guest appearances. Most notable for many...Spike Jones Show, The Judy Garland Show, Lucy Show, The Tonight Show, Starring Johnny Carson and Night Court. Some of his many one time appearances...Playhouse 90 (nominated best supporting actor Emmy for his role in "The Comedian") The Virginian, The Mike Douglas Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Bold Ones: The Lawyers, Chase and Seinfelt. Torme performed constantly in Las Vegas and jazz clubs around the country. He wrote over 300 songs and worked as an actor and some of his many movies..."Higher and Higher" "Lets go Steady" "The Fearmakers" "Walk Like a Dragon" and the "Private Lives of Adam and Eve." He wrote his own biography "It Wasn't All Velvet" in 1988 and also biographies of his life-long friend, drummer Buddy Rich and a scathing telltale book "The Other Side of the Rainbow: Behind the Scenes on the Judy Garland Television series" a remembrance of her disastrous television series where he worked as the music writer and then a nice tribute to singers who influenced him, "My Singing Teachers" with a chapter devoted to his favorite Bing Crosby. He suffered a stroke in 1996 and was hospitalized preventing him from making his annual performance at the Hollywood Bowl. His health steadily declined while enduring intermittent hospital stays. He passed away at UCLA Medical Center three years later at age 73. His public service was held at the Pierce Brothers Chapel and Westwood Memorial Park where he was interred. Mel Torme was eulogized during his service by Donald O'Connor, Carleton Heston and Cliff Robertson. Legacy...He wrote the song and composed the music for "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) recorded by Nat King Cole in 1945 which has become a holiday classic. Torme was inducted into the Big Band Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. In February 1999, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.. His plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honors his excellence in recording. Among his children are notables Tracy Torme and Steve March. Write your opinion here...
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