BOB CHESTER came from a wealthy family; his step-father was head of General Motor's Fisher Body Works. Chester formed his first orchestra in Detroit in 1939. Heavily influenced by Glenn Miller, the group's sound proved unoriginal and soon disbanded after engagements at the Detroit Athletic Club.
Tommy Dorsey took an interest and invited Chester to move east and live with him. Dorsey helped Chester organize a new band, which proved more successful. Though it sounded like Miller at first, it developed a style of its own, thanks to arrangements by David Rose.
Chester went through a slew of singers. Female vocalists included Dolores O'Neill and Kathleen Lane. Singer Betty Bradley joined when O'Neill left. Male singers were Gene Howard, Bill Darnell, Joe Harris, Stu Brayton, Hall Stewart, and Bob Haymes, younger brother of actor/vocalist Dick Haymes.
Peter Marshall, better known as the host of the original Hollywood Squares game show, also appeared as a vocalist. He replaced Howard, who left to join Stan Kenton in 1942. Chester's band broke up around the end of WWII, and he moved back to Detroit.
FRANKIE CARLE. Pianist and bandleader Frankie Carle's career spanned 70 years. His first professional job came in 1916, working in his uncle's band for a dollar a week.
In 1937, Carle led his own regional outfit around New England. His big break came in 1939 when he joined Horace Heidt. Gaining exposure on Heidt's national radio program, Carle became popular for his piano style and found himself in big demand.
When Heidt retired in 1944, he helped Carle form his own orchestra. Carle's group charted hits for Columbia during the 1940s and appeared on two radio programs. Al Avola and Frank DeVol arranged. Paul Allen, Lee Columbo, Betty Bonney, Phyllis Lynne, and Marjorie Hughes were vocalists (Hughes was actually Carle's daughter. When Carle was searching for a vocalist, his wife slipped Margie's recording into the demos, and Carle unknowingly choose her. He changed her name to let her build her own reputation.) Gossip columnist Walter Winchell let the secret out after her first big hit, "Oh, What It Seemed to Be."
When the age of big bands faded during the 1950s, Carle formed a slimmed-down unit known as Frankie Carle and His Rhythm. It played smaller halls and recorded for RCA. After is last tour in 1983, Carle retired to Mesa, Arizona, to be near his daughter. Carle passed away in 2001, 18 days shy of his 98th birthday.
Bob Chester's Orchestra and Frankie Carle's Orchestra are both heard here in One Night Stand transcription broadcasts.
JACK SMITH was one member of THE THREE AMBASSADORS, a trio of Hollywood High students - including also Martin Sperzel and Al Teeter - that applied at The Grove to replace the popular "Rhythm Boys" for the Phil Harris Orchestra. They not only got the job, but remained in big demand for three years with the Phil Harris Orchestra.
Jack Smith had an especially pleasing voice and was called on for solos with the Harris band. When The Three Ambassadors split in 1939, Jack Smith continued on radio as a single and appeared on "Your Hit Parade," his own radio program, and later hosted the TV series "You Asked For It."
JEFFREY GILL and LEE NORTON were other male vocalists at The Grove. Gill specialized in sentimental ballads with a voice and style strikingly similar to that of Don NOvis (who sang with Arnheim and Greir). Lee, a popular local crooner, was called on for romantic ballads.
These recordings survive thanks to transcription discs of broadcasts of the Phil Harris Orchestra from the Cocoanut Grove.