John Lamb, Published June 19 2009
What: Glenn Miller Orchestra
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway
Info: Tickets are $26. (701) 235-4152
Though Glenn Miller disappeared nearly 65 years ago, his music lives on.
The proof will be heard tonight at the Fargo Theatre, when the Glenn Miller Orchestra takes the stage.
The group is fresh from playing the annual Glenn Miller Festival in his hometown of Clarinda, Iowa. The small town in the southwest corner of the state plans to begin work on a museum honoring the legendary bandleader later this summer.
The 19-piece group was formed in 1956 by the late trombone-playing composer’s estate. They keep the legacy alive by performing big band classics such as “Tuxedo Junction,” “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” “I’ve Got a Girl in Kalamazoo” and “Pennsylvania 6-5000.”
In the 1930s and early ’40s Miller put his stamp on the big band sound.
His fame was relatively short-lived, however, as America’s attention turned to World War II and stateside war efforts ramped up.
Miller contributed by volunteering for the armed service at 38. He eventually convinced top brass that he could help morale by modernizing the Army band.
In late ’44, at age 40, he disappeared while en route from England to an appearance in France. The following year, the U.S. government declared him dead.
Miller’s military tenure adds to his legacy and further distinguishes his career from other big band leaders.
For casual fans of the style, it can be easy to confuse the stories about prominent bandleaders like Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Rudy Vallée, all born in the same decade.
Here’s a little trivia quiz to see how well you follow your bandleaders. The answer to each question is one of the five musicians mentioned in the previous paragraph. A one and a two and you know what to do.
1. Which musician once played in a Broadway pit band with fellow future big band stars clarinetist Benny Goodman and drummer Gene Krupa?
2. Who was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953 for leftist beliefs?
3. Who was known as “the King of Swing?”
4. Who was known as “The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing?”
5. Whose big hit was “Begin the Beguine?”
6. Whose big hit was “Sing, Sing, Sing?”
7. Who scored a hit with Bing Crosby singing “The Lullabye of Broadway?”
8. Who had a hit with “As Time Goes by?”
9. Who composed the tune “Nightmare” as his personal theme?
10. This musician performed with and arranged for the Dorsey Brothers, and wrote the song, “Dese, Dem, Dose?”
11. In his biopic, this musician was played by Steve Allen?
12. In his biopic, this musician was played by James Stewart?
13. Who appeared in the “Batman” television series as “Lord Marmaduke Ffogg?”
14. Who performed in a program promoting Chesterfield Cigarettes?
15. Who made his big screen debut in 1935, performing with the Ray Noble Orchestra in “The Big Broadcast of 1936?” The film also featured Bing Crosby, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Ethel Merman and Dorothy Dandridge.
16. Which bandleader was married to both actresses Lana Turner and Ava Gardner?
17. Which bandleader paired with singer Gordon “Tex” Beneke?
18. Who helped break the color barrier by hiring Billie Holiday in 1938?
19. Which bandleader gave Peggy Lee her big break and introduced the singer to her first husband?
20. Who was the first recording artist to earn a gold record for selling 500,000 copies?
1. Glenn Miller
2. Artie Shaw
3. Benny Goodman
4. Tommy Dorsey
7. Dorsey and his brother Jimmy
8. Rudy Vallée
20. Miller for “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533