Judd Conlon

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Judd "Jud" Conlon (1910 – July 28, 1966) was an American vocal arranger and conductor.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1910 in Cuba City, Wisconsin as Justin N. Conlon.[2] He relocated to Dubuque, Iowa, where he attended Columbia Academy and Columbia College. Conlon played the accordion and was active in musical groups including the Vested Choir directed by Father Alphonse Dress. This may have led to his mastery of vocal arranging. He played accordion at the Hilltop Casino until 4:00 a.m., slept, and then had to get up for his college classes. In high school he formed the Justin Conlon Orchestra. By the time he was in college, the group toured the Midwest and was often featured on WMT-Cedar Rapids, WHO-Des Moines, and WOC-Davenport.

Conlon's first major arranging work was with the Kay Kyser Orchestra.[3]

Career[edit]

In 1945, the Kay Kyser band was still at its peak. One of its main attractions was The Campus Kids, which Conlon had joined as a vocalist that July. His debut recording with them was "Choo Choo Polka" and "That’s for Me". At that time, the other Kids were Diane Pendleton, Donna Wood, Loulie Jean Norman, and Charlie Parlato.[4]

Conlon, trained on the accordion and as a vocal arranger and conductor, had an ambition to form his own vocal group. In The Campus Kids, Conlon was exposed to two singers with a four octave range and perfect pitch, Loulie Jean Norman and Gloria Wood. With them and his own basso profundo, plus Charlie Parlato as first tenor, he had the makings of the new group he wanted. He assigned himself the baritone part, Norman was first or lead soprano, and Wood second soprano. He also recruited Mack McLean from the Six Hits and a Miss singing group as a second tenor.[4]

The Rhythmaires[edit]

Probably the formation of the team was hastened by the sudden departure of The Charioteers as Bing Crosby’s weekly vocalists toward the end of the first Philco season in March, 1947. Several of the first season’s final shows featured an unknown chorus that may have been the singers in the still unnamed group. Jud Conlon’s Rhythmaires was christened and ready to go as recordings for the second Philco season commenced in August 1947. Conlon, Parlato, McLean and Norman bade farewell to The Campus Kids in December. (Gloria Wood remained with Kyser into 1948.)[4]

The Rhythmaires had launched an association with Crosby that would continue for almost a decade in over 230 broadcasts and over 40 recordings. They even helped sell Minute Maid. Their first commercial recording with him was on December 3rd, 1947 when "Ballerina" was laid down. Other notable recordings were "Home Cookin", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", "Teddy Bears' Picnic", "It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas", "Zing a Little Zong", and "Road to Bali".[4]

Sometimes the Rhythmaires would be expanded into either The Jud Conlon Singers (e.g. "Stay Well", "Sorry") or The Jud Conlon Choir (e.g. "The Loneliness of Evening", "More I Cannot Wish You", "We Meet Again".) The Rhythmaires’ final recordings with Crosby were made in April, 1956 for the Decca LP Songs I Wish I Had Sung.[4] The Rhythmaires also furnished background vocals for Crosby in Walt Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad), released in 1949.[4]

After the conclusion of Philco Radio Time in 1949, The Rhythmaires continued with Crosby throughout his Chesterfield series whch ran until 1952. Each week they sang the cigarette’s "Sound Off" jingle.[4]

Other work[edit]

Crosby had used Conlon to make arrangements and vocal backgrounds for his radio series and Conlon went on to work for Andy Williams and Guy Lombardo. In the mid-1950s, Conlon began collaborating with satirist, Stan Freberg. His arrangements appeared on nearly all Freberg's comedy records, as well as on his Stan Freberg Radio Show. He also worked on the television program Frankie Laine Time.

Conlon also served as a musical arranger for Walt Disney. Among his credits are the Disney movies Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), and Babes in Toyland (1961).

Personal life[edit]

He married Charlotte Manley and together they had one son, Michael Conlon. Conlon died on July 28, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 56. He was found dead in his Chicago hotel room of an apparent heart attack. He had been there as a delegate to the convention of American Federation of TV and Radio Artists. A requiem Mass was held a few days later at St. Victor's Roman Catholic Church in West Hollywood.[1]

Filmography[edit]

Music department[edit]

  • The Judy Garland Show (1963-64) (CBS TV) (Choral Arrangements) Credited as The Jud Conlon Singers.
  • Bobby Darin and Friends (1961) (TV) (music arranger: vocal arrangements)
  • Screen Directors Playhouse (music arranger: vocal arrangements) (1 episode, 1956)
  • Prima Donna (1956) TV episode (music arranger: vocal arrangements)
  • Peter Pan (1953) (vocal arranger) "You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!" (04:03)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951) (music arranger: vocal arrangements)

Soundtrack[edit]

Self[edit]

  • Cha-Cha-Cha Boom! (1956)[2] (as The Judd Conlon Group) .... Himself
  • The Scene Of the Crime (1956) (as the Jud Conlon Singers with Bob Thompson's Orch.)

Live Duets[edit]

  • "If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon" (1947-1949) Bing Crosby with Judd Conlon's Rhythmaires
  • "The Court Jester" (21 – 22 September 1955, Los Angeles) Sylvia FineSammy Cahn With the Judd Conlon Singers

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Variety". Variety. August 3, 1966. 
  2. ^ a b "Internet Movie Database". www,imdb.com. Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Encyclopedia Dubuque". Encyclopedia Dubuque. Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g McQuade, Martin (Winter 2007). "Zing a Little Zong". BING magazine: 36–42. 

External links[edit]