|Birth name||Vaughn Wilton Monroe|
|Born||October 7, 1911|
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||May 21, 1973 (aged 61)|
Stuart, Florida, U.S.
|Genres||Big band, traditional pop|
|Labels||RCA Victor, Dot Records|
|Website||Vaughn Monroe Big Band Era Singer|
Vaughn Wilton Monroe (October 7, 1911 – May 21, 1973) was an American baritone singer, trumpeter and big band leader who was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for recording and another for radio performance.
Monroe was born in Akron, Ohio. He graduated from Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania in 1929, where he was senior class president and voted "Most Likely to Succeed". After graduation, he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he was an active member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Monroe attended New England Conservatory for one semester in 1935, studying voice with Clarence B. Shirley.
Monroe formed his first orchestra in Boston in 1940 and became its principal vocalist. He began recording for RCA Victor's subsidiary Bluebird label. That same year, Monroe built The Meadows, a restaurant and nightclub to the west of Boston on Massachusetts Route 9 in Framingham, Massachusetts. After he ceased performing, he continued running the club until his death in 1973.
Monroe hosted the Camel Caravan radio program from The Meadows, starting in 1946 and, during this time, was featured in a Camel cigarettes commercial. In 1952, Monroe and his orchestra had a weekly program on Saturday nights on NBC radio. Those programs originated on location from wherever the band happened to be touring. Each program featured a focus on a college in the United States.
The Meadows burned to the ground in December 1980 after sitting shuttered and vacant for a number of years.
Monroe was tall and handsome, which helped him as a band leader and singer, as well as in Hollywood. He was sometimes called "the Baritone with Muscles", "the Voice with Hair on its Chest", "Ol' Leather Tonsils", or "Leather Lungs".
Monroe recorded extensively for RCA Victor until 1956, and his signature tune was "Racing With the Moon" (1941). It sold more than one million copies by 1952, becoming Monroe's first million-seller, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Among his other hits were "In the Still of the Night" (1939), "There I Go" (1941), "There I've Said It Again" (1945), "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" (1946), "Ballerina" (1947), "Melody Time" (1948), "Riders in the Sky" (1949), "Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)" (1949), "Sound Off" (1951), and "In the Middle of the House" (1956). He also turned down the chance to record "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".
Monroe's orchestra had a number of excellent musicians including future jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli. While their musical focus was largely romantic ballads, in person, the band had a fiercely swinging side only occasionally captured on record. In ballrooms, Monroe often reserved the final set of the evening for unrestrained, swinging music.
Movies also beckoned, although he did not pursue it with vigor. Monroe appeared in Meet the People (1944), Carnegie Hall (1947), Singing Guns (1950), and Toughest Man in Arizona (1952). He co-authored The Adventures of Mr. Putt Putt (1949), a children's book about airplanes and flying, a personal interest of his.
He hosted The Vaughn Monroe Show on CBS Television (1950–51, 1954–55) and appeared on Bonanza, The Mike Douglas Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Texaco Star Theatre, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and American Bandstand. He was a major stockholder in RCA and appeared in print ads and television commercials for the company's television and audio products.
After leaving the performing end of show business, he remained with RCA for many years as a television spokesperson, executive, and talent scout. In the latter capacity, he helped give Neil Sedaka, among others, his first major exposure. He was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for recording at 1600 Vine Street and one for radio at 1755 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
Monroe married Marian Baughman on April 2, 1940, in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, where they had met as high school students. They did not date during high school, but became romantically inclined toward each other when their paths crossed again in New York City, years after graduation. They returned to Jeannette for their wedding. They had two children, Candace (born 1941) and Christina (born 1944). They remained married until Vaughn's death in 1973.
Monroe was an avid railroad enthusiast. He collected and built HO scale model trains. On concert tours he had an elaborate and compact workshop that folded neatly into a valise. Inside were hundreds of intricate tools to build operating miniature locomotives, passenger & freight cars.
Monroe died on May 21, 1973, at Martin County Memorial Hospital in Florida, shortly after having stomach surgery for a bleeding ulcer. He was buried in Fernhill Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Stuart, Florida.
Monroe Orchestra personnel
- Moonmaids, a female vocal quartet (1946 to 1952)
- Frank L. Ryerson, arranger & trumpeter (1944)
- Ziggy Talent
- George Robinson, Trombone (1944–1945)
- Andrew (Andy) Bagni, Lead Saxophone (1939–1958)
- Bucky Pizzarelli, Guitar
- Joe Connie, Lead Trombone
- Johnny Watson, Arranger, Baritone Saxophone
- Wedo Marasco, Alto Saxophone
- Red Nichols, Jazz Trumpet
- Mike Shelby, Piano
- Maree Lee, Vocalist (Moonmaids)
- Tinker Cunningham, Vocalist (Moonmaids)
- Babe Feldman, Tenor Saxophone
- Jack Fay, String Bass
- Gerry Bruno, String Bass
- Mary Jo Grogan, (Moonmaids)
- Art Dedrick, Trombone, Arranger
- Ray Conniff, Trombone
- Eddie Julian, Drums
- Benny West, Trumpet
- June Hiett, Moonmaids
- Arnold Ross, Piano
- Don Costa, Arranger
- Marilyn Duke, vocalist
- Betty Norton, Moonmaids
- Arlene Truax, Moonmaids
- Katie Myatt, Moonmaids
- Jerry Bruno, bassist
- Dino DiGiano, Trumpet (1941)
- Bobby Rickey, Drums
- Peaked at No. 2 in Billboard Country singles.
- "Vaughn Monroe, 62, Dies; Singer and Bandleader; Headliner of An Era". The New York Times. May 22, 1973. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2010.
- "Vaughn Monroe Dies At 62". United Press International. May 22, 1973. Retrieved October 8, 2010.[permanent dead link]
- Wertz, Marjorie "Singer Vaughn Monroe's road to stardom went through Jeannette" February 9, 2007 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review via Vaughn Monroe Society.
- Living Era CD AJA 5312 ("Vaughn Monroe 'Racing With the Moon'") liner note by Peter Dempsey (2000)
- "Camel Summer Sub" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 8, 1942. p. 22. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- "Camel Cigarette Commercials, 16mm Transfers Reel # 8. [Part 2] : Internet Archive : Commercial starts at 1.48". March 10, 2001. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "Radio Spotlight". The la Crosse Tribune. The La Crosse Tribune. January 19, 1952. p. 7. Retrieved August 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Vaughn Monroe: Biography". Vaughn Monroe Appreciation Society Presents. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
- Gilliland, John. (1972). "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #12 - All Tracks UNT Digital Library". University of North Texas. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 25. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Gilliland, John. (197X). "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #22 - All Tracks UNT Digital Library". University of North Texas. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
- "High school auditorium to be named for Jeannette grad, Big Band star Vaughn Monroe". TribLIVE. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- "Vaughn Monroe "There, I've Said It Again"". Big Band Library. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Model Railroader Magazine; June 1986; John Page author