~ Buddy Clark: A Melodious Baritone ~

Buddy Clark Had A Romantic Sounding Voice Who 
Swooned 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 music,
and is head of the Glenn Miller American Fan Club.