November 25, 1905|
New York City, New York, United States
|Died||December 13, 1962
Burbank, California, United States
|Occupation(s)||Vocalist, composer, pianist|
|Associated acts||Bing Crosby, The Rhythm Boys, Paul Whiteman, Al Rinker|
Harry Barris (November 24, 1905 – December 13, 1962) was an American popular singer and songwriter, and is one of the earliest singers to utilize "scat singing" in recordings. Barris, one of Paul Whiteman's "The Rhythm Boys," along with Bing Crosby, scatted on several songs, including "Mississippi Mud," which Barris wrote in 1927.
Born in New York City, Barris was a member of the Rhythm Boys, a late 1920s singing trio that included Al Rinker and Bing Crosby, and was Crosby's entry into show business. The group sang several songs in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra film King of Jazz (1930) and recorded both with Whiteman and on their own with Barris on piano.
Barris appeared in 57 films between 1931 and 1950, usually as a band member, pianist and/or singer. In The Lost Weekend (1945), he is the nightclub pianist who humiliates Ray Milland by singing "Somebody Stole My Purse". An unusual change of pace for Barris was his comedy role in The Fleet's In (1942), as a runty sailor named Pee Wee who perpetrates malapropisms in a surprisingly deep voice.
Offscreen, Barris successfully composed songs including "Mississippi Mud", "I Surrender, Dear", "It Must Be True" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams". Rinker and Crosby also carved out careers on their own as well.
- Donald Shepherd and Robert F. Slatzer, Bing Crosby: The Hollow Man (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981), ISBN 978-0-523-42164-3