Mary Louise Tobin
November 11, 1918
Aubrey, Texas, U.S.
(m. 1935; div. 1943)
Mary Louise Tobin (born November 11, 1918) is an American singer. She appeared with Benny Goodman, Bobby Hackett, Will Bradley, and Jack Jenney. Tobin introduced "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" with Goodman’s band in 1939. Her biggest hit with Goodman was "There'll Be Some Changes Made", which was number two on Your Hit Parade in 1941 for 15 weeks. Tobin was the first wife of trumpeter and bandleader Harry James, with whom she had two sons.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Tobin, she was born in Aubrey, Texas, but moved with her family to Denton, Texas, after her father died. When she was 12, she appeared on stage with the North Texas Stage Band. She began singing at Denton High School when she was 14 years old.
In 1932 Tobin won a CBS Radio Talent Contest and, after touring with society dance orchestras in Texas, joined Art Hicks and his Orchestra in 1934. In 1934, she also sang at the Sylvan Club, near Arlington, Texas, and at theaters in Beaumont, Dallas, and Houston, Texas. At that time, Harry James played first trumpet for Hicks and a year later, on May 4, 1935, Tobin and James were married. They had two sons: Harry (born 1941) and Tim (née Jerin Timothyray James; born March 21, 1942). Tobin brought Frank Sinatra to James' attention in 1939 after hearing Sinatra sing on the radio. James subsequently signed Sinatra to a one-year contract at $75 a week.
While Tobin was singing with Hackett at Nick’s in the Village, jazz critic and producer John Hammond heard her and brought Goodman to a performance. Tobin soon joined the Goodman band and went on to record "There'll Be Some Changes Made", "Scatterbrain", "Comes Love", "Love Never Went to College", "What's New?", and "Blue Orchids" with Goodman. Johnny Mercer especially wrote "Louise Tobin Blues" for her while she was with Goodman. It was arranged by Fletcher Henderson.
In 1945 she recorded "All through the Day" with Tommy Jones and His Orchestra, and "June Comes Every Year" with Emil Coleman and His Orchestra. In 1946 she performed with Skippy Anderson’s Band at the Melodee Club in Los Angeles, and in 1950 she recorded "Sunny Disposish" with Ziggy Elman and His Orchestra.
After a long hiatus spent raising her two boys, Tobin accepted an invitation from jazz critic and publisher George Simon to sing at the 1962 Newport Jazz Festival, where she met her future husband, clarinetist Peanuts Hucko. The Whitney Balliett review of the festival published in The New Yorker included the statement: "Louise Tobin sings like the young Ella Fitzgerald". Hucko and Tobin began performing regularly together, including at the Gibson-inspired Odessa Jazz Parties and a regular engagement at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. They married in 1967 and moved to Denver, Colorado, where they were co-owners and the house band of the Navarre Club.
In 1974 Hucko led the Glenn Miller Orchestra, touring worldwide with Tobin singing. In 1977, Tobin recorded "There'll Be Some Changes Made" with Hucko on the album San Diego Jazz Club Plays the Sound of Jazz. "There'll Be Some Changes Made" became an oft-requested fan favorite at concerts. In the 1980s they toured Europe, Australia, and Japan with the Pied Piper Quartet and recorded the albums Tribute to Louis Armstrong and Tribute to Benny Goodman, featuring Tobin singing several numbers on both. In 1992 Starline Records issued Swing That Music, including a vocal duet with Hucko and Tobin singing "When You're Smiling". This was their final recording made together. Hucko died in 2003.
In 2008 Tobin donated her extensive collection of original musical arrangements, press clippings, programs, recordings, playbills and photographs to create the Tobin-Hucko Jazz Collection at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Selected performance affiliations
- 1934: Interstate Theater Circuit, Dallas
- 1935: Art Hicks Band, Dallas and Arlington, Texas
- 1937: Ben Pollack Band
- 1938: Bobby Hackett Band, Jack Jenney Band, New York City
- 1939: Will Bradley — Ray McKinley, Harry James Band, New York City and Massachusetts
- 1939: Benny Goodman Band, New York City and on tour
- 1945: Ziggy Elman Band, Los Angeles
- 1974: Glenn Miller Band
- 1962–1998: Peanuts Hucko (husband)
- The Louise Tobin and Peanuts Hucko Jazz Collection, Texas A&M University-Commerce Library
- Official Louise Tobin Website
- Shelton, Keith (October 14, 2018). "Family, close friends celebrate Denton County songstress' 100th birthday". Denton Record-Chronicle. Texas, Denton. Archived from the original on May 26, 2019. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
- "Miss Tobin To Fill Indefinite Stage Appearance At Dallas Show". Denton Record-Chronicle. Texas, Denton. September 19, 1934. p. 4. Retrieved December 13, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Jazz Concert to Be Presented". Moberly Monitor-Index. Missouri, Moberly. November 8, 1977. p. 4. Retrieved December 13, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Miss Tobin Sings In Sylvan Program". Denton Record-Chronicle. Texas, Denton. October 10, 1934. p. 4. Retrieved December 13, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Who's Who in Entertainment, Second edition, 1992–1993, Marquis Who's Who, Wilmette, Illinois (1992) OCLC 25523584
- "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #3". 1972.