Skip to main content

The Big Broadcast for July 24

Fletcher Henderson in 1925.


Every 20 years or so, I'm entitled to a night off. But that can be tough, with The Big Broadcast tied to birthdays. Fortunately, #1975, from July 2011, lines up exactly with what would have been #2236.

This week is a very "saxophone" show, with Johnny Hodges, born in Cambridge, MA on July 25, 1906. He joined Duke Ellington in 1928, stayed until 1951, returning in the mid 1950s for the balance of his life. Don Redman was a fine sax player, but his greatest impact was as an arranger. He shaped the sound of the modern swing band through his time with Fletcher Henderson, leadership of McKinney's Cotton Pickers, and his own band beginning in 1931. Crooning reedman Rudy Vallee was a significant network radio star. He introduced listeners to Burns and Allen, Edgar Bergen, Kate Smith and Bob Hope. Vallee had great success on record and the stage, too, but wasn't entirely at ease on screen, which worked to his advantage in Preston Sturges' "Palm Beach Story." He had tremendous late career acclaim in "How to Succeed in Business."

Buddy Clark, born July 26, 1912, had a steady, but unspectacular singing career throughout the 1930s. Only until the last few years of his life, with mid-40s hits like "Linda" and "I'll Dance at Your Wedding," did Clark achieve lasting fame.

Composer Sigmund Romberg was born in Hungary on July 29, 1887. He wrote operetta-styled Broadway shows for over 40 years.