Chummy MacGregor

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John Chalmers "Chummy" MacGregor.

John Chalmers MacGregor (March 28, 1903 – March 9, 1973), better known as Chummy MacGregor, a pianist and composer, was Glenn Miller’s pianist from 1936-1942. He composed the songs "Moon Dreams", "It Must Be Jelly ('Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That)", and "Slumber Song".

Career[edit]

He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1925 and was a member of Delta Tau Delta. Before joining with Glenn Miller, MacGregor played with Irving Aaronson. He played in Glenn Miller’s first unsuccessful band in 1936-1937. He remained when Glenn Miller reformed the orchestra that would eventually become the most popular and successful big band.[1] The band would achieve 23 no.1 hits from 1939 to 1943.

He was played by Harry Morgan in "The Glenn Miller Story" (1953) starring James Stewart and June Allyson, on which he was a consultant and technical advisor.

Movie Appearances[edit]

He was in the Twentieth Century Fox movies Sun Valley Serenade (1941) starring John Payne and Sonja Henie and Orchestra Wives (1942) starring George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford as part of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, both of which featured Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. He is not seen in either movie except for a small scene at the piano when Miller is playing "Chattanooga Choo Choo" because band pianist Ted Scott, played by John Payne, could not make it in time for the rehearsal. He appeared uncredited in Sun Valley Serenade as part of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He played the piano parts and solos for Cesar Romero in Orchestra Wives.

Compositions by Chummy MacGregor[edit]

A noted songwriter and arranger, he wrote the songs "It Must Be Jelly ('Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That)" with the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1942, which was covered by Woody Herman in 1944 on Brunswick and as V-Disc 320B, and was also recorded by Harry James, Frankie Ford, and Johnny Long; "Slumber Song" with Saul Tepper; "Doin' the Jive" written with Glenn Miller in 1937; "Moon Dreams" with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, which was arranged by Gil Evans and recorded by Miles Davis on his Birth of the Cool album; "Sold American" with Glenn Miller; "Sometime" with Glenn Miller in 1939; "Solid As a Stonewall Jackson" with Jerry Gray; "Mister-Lucky-Me" in 1943; "Simply Grand"; "If Not For You"; "The Technical Training Command" with Glenn Miller and Sol Meyer in 1943; and, "I Sustain the Wings", composed with Glenn Miller, Norman Leyden, and Bill Meyers for the NBC radio series which ran from 1943 to 1944.[2] Chummy MacGregor also composed a series of songs with Charles Ives: "The Cage", "Berceuse", "Evidence", "Disclosure", "Down East", "Allegro", "The Camp Meeting", and "The Circus Band".

His composition "Moon Dreams" was recorded by Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band and was released as a V-Disc, No. 201A, in October, 1944. Martha Tilton recorded "Moon Dreams" in 1942 for Capitol Records, which was co-founded by Johnny Mercer, the co-writer of the song. Herbie Mann, Hal McIntyre, Meredith D'Ambrosio, Gil Goldstein, Flavio Ambrosetti, Franz Koglmann, and Charlie Shoemake have also recorded the song.

His composition "Moon Dreams" was also featured in the 1988 motion picture 36 fillette.

"Moon Dreams" was also featured on the soundtrack collection Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America's Music (2000), in a performance by Miles Davis, arranged by Gil Evans. Miles Davis first performed the song in 1948 in concert in New York, a performance which appears on The Complete Birth of the Cool sessions collection.

In 2008, his composition "Moon Dreams" was featured in the Fox series The Simpsons in the episode "Mypods and Boomsticks" in a performance by Miles Davis.

Honors[edit]

He played piano on three landmark Glenn Miller recordings that were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: "Moonlight Serenade" (1939), "In the Mood" (1939), and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (1941).[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simon, George Thomas. Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974
  2. ^ Flower, John. Moonlight Serenade: A Bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1972.
  3. ^ Flower, John. Moonlight Serenade: A Bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1972.

Sources[edit]

  • Flower, John. Moonlight Serenade: A Bio-discography of the Glenn Miller Civilian Band. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1972.
  • Simon, George Thomas. Glenn Miller and His Orchestra. New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974.
  • Simon, George T. Simon Says: The Sights and Sounds of the Swing Era, 1935-1955. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1971.
  • Simon, George T. The Big Bands. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1967.
  • IMDb