Of the nine people being celebrated on tonight's "Big Broadcast," I have a connection with three. Although, in one case it's by way of an anecdote. Another, an answering machine.
But I did know Arthur Tracy.
Pete Wendling was born 126 years ago Friday. And I forgot to send a card! He was an acclaimed ragtime pianist, which led to a decade long career "cutting" piano rolls. But he had a longer career as a composer, book ended by "Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula," a 1916 faux Hawaiian number introduced by Al Jolson, to "On the Street of Regret" in 1942. Here's a mid-career success, "Swingin' in a Hammock," by Dick Robertson with Bob Haring and his Orchestra in 1930.
There are seven birthday salutes on tonight's "Big Broadcast" (six and one "make good" for Sidney Bechet), but Fats Waller is responsible for twenty five out of sixty seven selections. He's heard on only nine, which speaks to his strength as a songwriter rather than the host's incompetence.