Clark Had A Romantic Sounding Voice Who
His Way to Poularity In The 30's And 40's
This great article was written by...John P. Cooper,
who writes about vintage movies and music, and is head of the Glenn Miller
American Fan Club.
Many of America's finest popular singers make
their most important recordings at the beginning and during the course
of their careers, then valiantly attempt to stay in the spotlight long
after, rightly or wrongly, they have lost the public's ear. They record
and perform in near obscurity and apathy until they seem to simply vanish
from view. For Buddy Clark, it was just the opposite. His most well known
recordings came at the very end of his career, but only because fate stepped
in and ended that career in a plane crash on a Los Angeles street in 1949.
During the greater part of the 1930's and early
forties, Buddy Clark worked steadily on radio and on records. The velvety,
smooth style of his later Columbia successes has it's beginnings in the
many recordings he made with various orchestras before the Second World
War. The selections herein made during the years 1934 through 1938 vocally
illustrate the growing maturity and richness that would propel Buddy Clark
to recording star status before it all ended much too soon.
Buddy Clark was one of many fine singers from
the thirties and forties who have not received all the acclaim they truly
deserve. For had he lived, his fame and popularity could have easily rivaled
Perry Como and Dean Martin and numerous others during the fifties, at least
on record. Visually, television might have proven to be as difficult a
challenge as motion pictures had been to him.
Buddy Clark had a romantic sounding voice, but
he was not a romantic, handsome looking man. He was by no means unattractive.
It's just that he happened to possess a pleasant, yet rather bland, almost
noncommittal, countenance. Would the quality of his singing have overcome
the public's constant quest for glamour in the years that should have followed?
That is a question that must remain unanswered.
As the Swing Era got under way in the mid 1930's,
Buddy Clark was already in action on radio and records, soon recording
with the "King of Swing", Benny Goodman in 1935 on Victor Records and performing
on Goodman's radio program, "Let's Dance". Well liked and personable, as
well as capable, Buddy Clark was in demand, although frequently without
fanfare, by many of the popular orchestras of the day. The selections showcased
here feature Buddy primarily with the orchestras of Lud Gluskin and Nat
Brandwynne, yet he also graced the recordings of Freddy Martin, Eddy Duchin,
Xavier Cugat, Mitchell Ayres, Freddie Rich and Ray Noble among others.
The Johnny Hodges track included here is one of the rare examples of Buddy
in tandem with a giant of the jazz world. Hodges was the alto sax star
of Duke Ellington's famous orchestra for many years, although the recording
Johnny and Buddy produce here is a hit pop tune of 1937 and quite a bit
removed from jazz! Aside from his extensive radio work ("Your Hit Parade"
most prominently) and recording efforts.
Buddy Clark appeared on film in RKO's production
of "Seven Day's Leave" in 1942 and his voice was heard in several Hollywood
feature films, most notably, "Wake Up and Live" in 1937, "I Wonder Who's
Kissing Her Now" in 1947, "Melody Time" in 1948 and "Song of Surrender"
in 1949. It is telling that at the peak of his popularity, 1946 through
1949, only Buddy Clark's voice, but not face, was being used in films.
Buddy Clark was only thirty seven years old when he died, but more time
than that has elapsed since his untimely demise and his many recordings
continue to provide pleasure and enjoyment to all who hear them and will
for years to come.
Notes by John P. Cooper March 1998
John P. Cooper, who writes about vintage movies
and is head of the Glenn Miller American Fan Club.