Al Rinker

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Al Rinker
Born December 20, 1907
Tekoa, Washington
Died June 11, 1982
Burbank, California
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Vocalist, Composer
Instruments piano, vocals
Associated acts Bing Crosby, The Rhythm Boys, Paul Whiteman, Harry Barris

Al Rinker (December 20, 1907 – June 11, 1982) was a musician who began his career as a teen performing with Bing Crosby in the early 1920s in Spokane, Washington in various musical groups. In 1925 the pair moved on to Los Angeles, eventually forming the Rhythm Boys trio with singer/songwriter/pianist Harry Barris. Barris wrote the songs Mississippi Mud, I Surrender, Dear, and Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams among others. The singing group worked with Paul Whiteman's Big Band for three years. They went out on their own for a year until Crosby effectively dissolved the group to go solo.

The Rhythm Boys were filmed for the Paul Whiteman movie The King of Jazz (1930) singing Mississippi Mud, So the Bluebirds and the Blackbirds Got Together, A Bench in the Park, and Happy Feet. According to a filmed interview of Rinker, Crosby performed the first two weeks on his first film while on daytime work release from jail after crashing his car into a telephone pole while driving drunk. After the Rhythm Boys broke up, they reunited only once, to appear together on the "Paul Whiteman Presents" radio broadcast on July 4, 1943.

In 1952, a song for which Rinker wrote the lyrics, You Can't Do Wrong Doin' Right, appeared in the film Push-Button Kitty and in the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. He also wrote the song Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat with the Sherman Brothers for the Disney animated children's movie The AristoCats (1970).

Rinker was born in Tekoa, Washington; his mother, Josephine, was an enrolled member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe[1] and a devout Roman Catholic.[2] It was a musical family: his father, Charles, played fiddle and called square dances and his mother played piano every evening after supper. His brother was the lyricist Charles Rinker who worked frequently with composer Gene de Paul.[3]

Most famously his sister Mildred, under her married name of Mildred Bailey, already embarked on a musical career in Los Angeles ahead of Rinker and Crosby, became a well-known jazz singer after the Rhythm Boys arranged for Paul Whiteman to "discover" her singing at a party and hired her. She became the first woman to join a band as a full-time singer, as Crosby had been the first man to do so

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, John. "Idaho tribe: ‘Mrs. Swing’ was Indian.", The Wenatchee World, March 16, 2012; retrieved March 27, 2012
  2. ^ Giddins, Gary (January 2001). Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams: The Early Years, 1903–1940. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-88188-0. [page needed]
  3. ^ "Death Takes Mildred Bailey, Blues Singer", Seattle Daily Times, December 13, 1951.


  • Donald Shepherd and Robert F. Slatzer, Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981)

ISBN 978-0-523-42164-3