|Born||July 10, 1898|
|Origin||Maysville, Georgia, USA|
|Died||August 17, 1967(aged 69)|
|Labels||Victor, Bluebird, Sunrise,|
|Associated acts||Bob Hope
Daisy and Violet Hilton
Nat "King" Cole
Ina Ray Hutton
Tal Henry (July 10, 1898 – August 17, 1967) was an American orchestra director in the swing and big band eras.
Henry was born Talmadge Allen Henry in Maysville, Georgia. At the age of 7, he started playing the violin. He left Maysville in 1914 to attend Shenandoah Conservatory of Music located in Dayton, Virginia. The school moved to Winchester, Virginia and has become a University. After his education there, Henry went to Elon College, near Burlington, North Carolina, where he taught violin.
In early 1919, he began playing with the Frank Hood band and made his home in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 1924 Tal Henry took over the band and formed the Tal Henry and His North Carolinians Orchestra where he played in the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro. The orchestra moved north to Washington, Pennsylvania playing the dances and events at the Washington Hotel. The orchestra had a contract to perform at the formal opening of the Hotel Charlotte when the hotel opened in 1924. The orchestra moved on to the Mound Club in St. Louis, Missouri where he signed with William Foor-Robinson Orchestra Corporation of America. The Tal Henry orchestra went on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Ed Fishman introduced Bob Hope and George Burns to Tal Henry and His North Carolinians and booked them into the Stanley in Pittsburgh. They traveled vaudeville for sixteen weeks, going from town to town playing wherever the act could find work.
Tal Henry signed with the Orchestra Corporation of America, and so the orchestra was under contract with the Hotel New Yorker, Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., and the Baker Hotels all in the cities of the state of Texas. There was always a place for the orchestra in New York City. The Dorsey Brothers, Tommy and Jimmy, practiced with the orchestra when they were in the city. By the middle of the 1920s, the orchestra was nationally known as a famous band with the Victor Records, Bluebird and Sunrise records. In 1928, the orchestra produced two Warner Bros. and Victor Record Company's Vitaphone films. These Vitaphone shorts were used in theatres, radio, photoplay theatres, Loew’s Palace and other standard movie theatres. Vitaphone was the first sound film technology to gain widespread acceptance in the early Swing Era offering audiences the closest approximation possible to a live performance. The orchestra played many of the movie theatres in the orchestra pit, on stage, in hotel ballrooms, and any other venues where the orchestra performed.
The orchestra became so famous nationally, and were so busy with contracts afforded by the Orchestra Corporation of America that Charles Miller of Music Corporation of America, wrote to Tal at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, telling him how extremely surprised he was to receive a letter advising the MCOA that Tal was not interested changing his booking arrangement at that time. The letter from Miller stated that Tal should change his mind; they would like very much to talk to him and make the change.
Tal Henry and His Orchestra was billed at the Hershey Park Hotel, on the advertisement,dated Wednesday May 25, 1932, with admission 50 cents. They were also billed Saturday May 21, 1932 "Harlem's Aristocrat of Jazz" with Duke Ellington, followed on May 28, 1932 Vincent Lopez would be at the same ballroom in the Hershey Park Hotel. Memorial Day on May 30, 1932, had Opie Cates and His Orchestra. Tal Henry recorded Victor Records, Bluebird and Sunrise recordings in New York City on May 6, 1926, Camden, New Jersey on April 25, 1928. New York City on May 22, 1928, New York City December 5, 1928 and New York City on February 7, 1934.
Tal's photo was on the front of Max Hart Inc Magazine. He was presented as the Exclusive VICTOR Artists, Tal Henry and his North Carolinians Orchestra, claiming Tal Henry as "The Prince of Personality" with a great Orchestra from the Cotton Belt of North Carolina. He was also on the cover of Orchestra World Magazine and Billboard Magazine, February 3, 1934. He had become the “South’s Finest …One of American’s Best.” Miami News wrote that Tal Henry is "here at last" with his “knock-out” orchestra of Victor Recording Artists. “One of America’s greatest entertaining and novelty orchestras…A sensational hit” …. A orchestra that radiates enthusiasm, life and action….people recalled the nostalgic, favorite enchanting swing and big band music Tal Henry played for the patrons. Tal directed the orchestra with 11 talented musicians.
The Tal Henry Orchestra accompanied many of the Major Bowes applicants trying out for the program on the network broadcasting on Sunday nights. The applicants were tabulated for votes and were thinned down to 15 or 20 in Major Bowes fashion. The chosen ones had to rehearse privately for the broadcast. The eleven piece band took on other musicians, making a total of fourteen sensational orchestra. They were at the Roseland-on-the-Merrimack where Tal Henry and his clever artists were one of the outstanding dance orchestras in America in 1931. They were known far and wide throughout daily radio broadcast over the networks of the National Broadcasting Company, featured particularly through Station WEAF in New York. In addition they won worldwide fame through their hundreds of Victor Red Seal records. He returned to the Hotel New Yorker after the Roseland booking. United Artists had the movie "Coquette" with Mary Pickford at Loew's Palace the week of April 15, 1929. Tal Henry was billed with Mary Pickford on stage with "Coquette." Thomas Meighan played with Mary Pickford in early movies with no sound. Tal Henry and his North Carolinians provided the musical accompaniment.
Paul Whiteman came to Tal Henry's home on many occasions. Around the sametime, Jan Garber, a close friend of Tal's came to Greensboro, NC., where Tal drove him to Asheville, NC. There was a band from Canada that had a tax levy against the band. Jan took over the band, which was Jan Garber's second band.
Tal Henry and His North Carolinians Orchestra
Personnel: Tal Henry, violin & leader; Walter Brown, clarinet, alto sax & vocalist; Doc Dibert, trumpet; Gordon Martin, trumpet; Francis Ellsworth, clarinet, tenor sax; Walter Fellman, clarinet, soprano and alto sax; Chet Lincoln, trombone; Paul Kenestrick, piano; Ivan Morris, banjo, cornet, vocalist; Chester Shaw, tuba, vocalist; Charlie Hudson, drums; Harold Madsen and Taz Wolter, vocalists. Vern Yocum, reeds, also played with the Tal Henry Orchestra.
Written in 1923 in Washington, DC, the tune "Skirts" by Tal Henry and Guy Funk, published in 1924.
Recordings of Tal Henry and His North Carolinians Orchestra April 25, 1928 Recordings List by Victor Record Co. Camden, NJ. "My Song of Songs to You" Shaw, (vocal) "Why Do You Make Me Lonesome?" (vocal) "Some Little Someone" - Brown, Morris, Shaw, (Vocal) "You've Broken My Castle of Dreams"
May 22, 1928 "Louise, I Love You"... "I'd Trade My Air Castles For A Love Nest And You"... "Lonesome"
December 5, 1928 "Just You and I" - Madsen, (Vocal)... "Found My Gal" - Brown, Fellman, Morris, (Vocal)... "I Know Why I Think of You" - Madsen, (Vocal) "When Shadows Fall" ... "Shame On You" - Brown, Fellman, Morris, (Vocal)... "My Little Old Home Down In New Orleans"
February 7, 1934 By Bluebird and Sunrise "Dancing In the Moonlight" - Wolter, (Vocal) By Bluebird ... "Dancing In the Moonlight" - Wolter, (Vocal) By Sunrise ... "Carioca" (Rumba) By Bluebird ... "Carioca" (Rumba) By Sunrise ... "There Goes My Heart" - Wolter, (Vocal) By Bluebird ... "There Goes My Heart" - Wolter, (Vocal) By Sunrise ... "Don't Say Goodnight" - Shaw, (Vocal) By Bluebird ... "Don't Say Goodnight" - Shaw, (Vocal) By Sunrise ... "Goin' To Heaven On A Mule" (Vocal?) By Bluebird ... "Goin' To Heaven On A Mule" (Vocal?) By Sunrise ... "I Can't Go On Like This" - Wolter (Vocal) By Bluebird ... "I Can't Go On Like This" - Wolter (Vocal) By Sunrise.
“I Know Why I Think Of You” Words: Hank Hauser Music: Tal Henry 12/7/29 EUnp 14155
“Just You and I” Words: Walter Fellman Music: Tal Henry 6/3/29 EUnp 7413
“Shame on You” Words: Ivan Morris Music: Tal Henry 12/7/29 EUnp 14158
“Louise” Words: Hank Hauser Music: Tal Henry
“Why Do You Make Me Lonesome” Words: I. Morris, F. Ellsworth Music: Tal Henry
“Skirts” Words: Tal Henry and Guy Funk Date: 1923 Music: Tal Henry and Guy Funk Copyright: 1924
Warner Bros. Victor Recording Vitaphone Film 1928
Bob Hope, Kay Kyser, Hal Kemp, Vincent Lopez, Fred Waring, Paul Whiteman, Dorsey Brothers, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Randy Brooks, Ina Ray Hutton, Nat "King" Cole, Larry Clinton, and Jan Garber
The Tal Henry Orchestra entertained from New York to Miami, to Maine. East, North, West, South in the USA. The orchestra performed in the New Yorker Hotel, Peabody Hotel, Baker Hotels of Texas, Casinos, Roseland Ballroom, Hershey Park Hotel, Steel Pier in Atlantic City and other Ballrooms, Theatre, Parks, Madison Square Garden, Loew’s Palace, Million Dollar Photoplay Theatre. His photo was featured on several piano sheet music. The Tal Henry Orchestra played for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Birthday Ball. Tal Henry Orchestra was heard on NBC Network coast to coast. The first radio hook-up SS Starr off the Aleutian Islands to Tal Henry at Baker Hotel, Jan. 13, 1930. He Broadcast on WLW, Cincinnati, WJZ-NBC New York City, and WEAF Danbury, Conn.
The Elitch Gardens in Denver, CO. opened in 1890. Tal Henry performed at the ballroom "Trocadero" in The Elitch Gardens in Denver, Colorado, shown from an advertisement in the 1920s or 1930s with a photo. Tal Henry moved from East to West, to North and South. When performing at the Hotel New Yorker, he would have a reunion with Hal Kemp and Kay Kyser, enjoying ole' times sake. Hal Kemp, Kay Kyser and Tal Henry were playing in nearby cities. Hal was at the Manger Hotel while Kay Kyser was at the Bamboo Gardens in Cleveland. All three were from North Carolina with great success with their orchestras. Tal had a contract with Hotel New Yorker for weeks at a time. Dinner was on the Summer Terrace and the Empire Tea Room with $1.00 to $1.75 prices. The orchestra played for the dances and events in the ballroom of the hotel, the Manhattan Room and the Summer Terrace for all occasions.
The first Dance Marathon was directed and conducted by Tal Henry and His North Carolinians Orchestra at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Tal left New York many times to play other cities. He and Jack Marshall went to the Grand Opening of the New China Cafe at 1614 Euclid Avenue on a Saturday on August 30 (year not noted) according to the news ad that showed they would be broadcasting in Cleveland, Ohio over WTAM. In the New China Cafe, the customers had a chance to hear their favorite song by entering the name of the tune on the entry card and asking for a request to be played.
During the Great Depression, many of the famous musicians disbanded the bands and began to look for work or to make a come back if they could raise the funds for recruiting more musicians. Tal Henry did not disband the orchestra until 1938. At that time, he became the agent and manager for some of the fallen bands and musicians. Some famous names were Lionel Hampton, Randy Brooks, Ian Ray Hutton, Nat "King" Cole, and Larry Clinton. When the World War II began, Fred Waring and Kay Kyser wrote to Special Services in the Army, suggesting Tal Henry become the European Director of Music Theatre. In 1944 through 1946 Tal was traveling England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the French Riviera. He produced some of the USO and Radio City Music Hall productions where he checked on other production too. Tal Henry was with Glenn Miller on the day he left an airport outside of London to fly to Paris. That plane was lost in the fog of the English Channel and Glenn Miller never made it to his destination in Paris, where the members of his band were waiting for his arrival. After the war was over Tal Henry returned home and began to play in the King Cotton Hotel with an organist on occasions. He also performed with the North Carolina Symphony.
In 1995, long after the death of Tal Henry, UCLA Festival of Preservation began to appoint actors and donors to restore old movies and Vitaphone Films to be screened in the UCLA Auditorium where the media, actors, families of the producers and associates could view the films. On April 30, 1995 the Tal Henry, Jr family received an invitation to the screening of Tal Henry's Warner Bros. Victor Recording Company Vitaphone Short film for the first time showing in Hollywood. Sara and Tal Henry, Jr. attended the screening where Tal, Jr. was introduced as the only living relative present at the event. Soon after the trip to Hollywood, Sara and Tal Henry, Jr. moved to Palm Beach for a year. While searching for the Big Band Hall of Fame, a neighbor was found to be the founder of a new Big Band Museum. The Tal Henrys returned to North Carolina and went back to Palm Beach with the Swing Band and Big Band memorabilia. The Henry family donated archives to the upcoming Big Band Museum. The museum was completed and a special dinner dance was held at the Mar-A-Lago Club owned by Donald Trump. The Tal Henry family were honored guest on February 3, 1998 as the late Tal Henry was inductee (posthumouly) while the Tal Henry, Jr family became charter members of the Palm Beach Big Band Hall of Fame Museum. Later, memorabilia was placed in the University of Pacific by Dave Brubeck and the UCLA Vitaphone Film was placed into the Movie Image Museum in Astoria, NY.
He married Florrie Tidwell Henry. Their children are Jane Delores Henry Hardin, and Talmadge Allen Henry Jr. Grandchildren are Kyle Talmadge Henry, Tobin Allen Henry, Talmadge Allen Henry III, William Hardin, Paul Hardin, Patty Hardin, and Wade Hardin.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tal Henry.|
- Passenger list, S.S. George A. Pope, port of New York, April 8, 1946.
- U.S. Census, June 1, 1900, State of Georgia, County of Jackson, enumeration district 94, p. 13-B, family 225.
- Book: "Tal Henry and His North Carolinians Orchestra" A Pictorial History. (2008)
by Sara R. Henry, Author. Sara R. Henry is the daughter-in-law of Tal Henry, and the wife of Tal Henry Jr. (2008) 419 pages with 330 or more colored photos and black-and-white photos and memorabilia.
Warner Bros. Vitaphone with Victor Recording in Brooklyn, NY Festival of Preservation Vitaphone Film in 2005 in Hollywood.