Monday, June 25, 2012

FORGOTTEN ONES: EDDY HOWARD

The big band era and vocal years before rock took over is full of great talent, which years later now are sadly forgotten. One such talent that emerged from the big band era to make a name for himself in the 1940s and 1950s was the great Eddy Howard.

Eddy Howard was born in Woodland, California on September 12,1914. He attended both San Jose State University and Stanford Medical School, but music was his first love. He began his musical career on Los Angeles area radio in the early thirties, and was soon featured with the bands of Eddie Fitzpatrick, Tom Gerun (with whom Woody Herman and singer Tony Martin started out) and Ben Bernie.

In 1934 Howard began a productive six year stint as trombonist and more importantly, lead vocalist with the orchestra of Dick Jurgens. He began with vocals on such tunes as "The Martinique" and "You're Slightly Terrific" to "My Last Goodbye" and "Careless", both hits for the Jurgens band in mid-1939 and both written by Howard. The last Howard vocals with the band were in January of 1940 for the Vocalion label. They were "A Little Boy And A Little Girl", and "Between You And Me". He was replaced as vocalist with the band by Harry Cool.

In 1940 Eddy Howard decided to go it alone as a solo performer, but during the following year formed his own orchestra. The musical organization was a competent, if unexciting act, that performed throughout the war years. They recorded a number of largely unsuccessful records for the Columbia label during the early forties. In 1946 Howard signed to record with a Chicago independent label called Majestic. The first release was a new recording of his previous hit "Careless" (now used as the band's theme song) and the flip side was a song originally written for the film "To Each His Own", using the same title. Ironically the song was never used in the picture. The tune became a huge hit in three different versions. Howard's became a number one million seller for the fledgling Majestic label. The recording spent five months on the best seller charts and launched the band and the label on a period of popularity that bucked the trend of big bands falling by the wayside.


The year 1947 was a good one for Eddy Howard. Fresh on the heels of his big breakthrough of the previous year, he first scored with the fine standard ballad "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons", which rose as high as the number four position on the list of best selling records. The springtime of the year found Eddy Howard on the charts again with a tune called "My Adobe Hacienda". This release went to number four . The very next outing for Majestic was the Howard version of the hit tune "I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder" which got as high as the number three position. The year closed out with the lovely tune "An Apple Blossom Wedding" which was a top twenty seller for the band and it's leader. Eddy Howard, his orchestra and the vocal trio would now be leave Majestic and go with another Chicago based label - Mercury records.

The first release for their new label that charted was their version of 1948's biggest song - "On A Slow Boat To China". A good seller that got as high as the number twelve position. The next hit for Howard was their version of the huge country hit "A Roomful Of Roses". This record was a steady if not spectacular seller, that remained on the charts for close to four months but never quite broke into the top ten. The song "Maybe It's Because" carried the band through 1949 remaining for two and a half months on the best sellers list. More than a year would pass before Eddy Howard's name would appear on a good selling record, and even then it would be a minor effort called "To Think You've Chosen Me". The year 1951 saw only one recording by Howard on the top popular music charts, but it was a million selling smash hit called "Sin". A dramatic vocal featuring Eddy and the singing trio, it surpassed anything Howard had ever done. It reached the number one selling position in the country, and had a run of six months on the charts. It definitely revitalized his career and made him a star caliber in person attraction.


Not content to coast on a hit of huge proportions, the year 1952 was a very good one to follow up. The first Mercury charted record of the year was "Stolen Love". It was a moderate seller during the early part of the year. The next release was a stylish ballad that sold very well. It was called "Be Anything (But Be Mine)". This record lasted on the charts for more than four months, and added to the repertoire of tunes requested at all personal appearances. The next hit was a cover of Vera Lynn's British hit "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart" which was a nice hit for Eddy Howard here in the U.S. It remained a hit for close to three months and got in the top twenty. Although 1952 closed out Eddy Howard's run of hits on the best seller lists, Eddy remained a sought after in person attraction for some time. Unfortunately, ill health began to dog Howard, causing him to curtail his career from time to time in the nineteen fifties. He died in his sleep of a cerebral hemorrhage in May 1963, in Palm Desert, California, aged 48. He was buried at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. He was survived by his wife of 25 years as well as two children, Lynn born in 1942 and Eddy Jr born in 1948.

Largely forgotten at his time of death in 1963, Eddy is even more forgotten now some 50 years after that. His voice did not have the range or a Crosby or a Sinatra, but I do not think I have ever heard a bad Eddy Howard recording, and I don't think I will...

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