Bob Houston

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A singer named Ivan Minott changed his name to Bob Houston during a short career with big bands in the '40s and '50s -- conceivably eras when his real first name, sounding right out of the Axis of Evil,…
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A singer named Ivan Minott changed his name to Bob Houston during a short career with big bands in the '40s and '50s -- conceivably eras when his real first name, sounding right out of the Axis of Evil, would have had somewhat less appeal than good old reliable "Bob," especially when combined with the name of an All-American city. Houston eventually performed and recorded with trombonist and bandleader Glenn Miller during Miller's days as an Army major leading the combined Army Air Force Band, obviously a patriotic situation in which a name such as Ivan would have been terrible.

Speaking of which, a terrible fact regarding Houston is that he actually recorded a song entitled "I Went for a Walk in Oconomowoc." This was one of four titles he cut circa 1950 with the Paul Taubman Trio accompanying him. The later recording schedule of Houston included redoing one of the tracks he had done with Taubman, the mystical "In the Valley of Golden Dreams." In the new version he utilized an ensemble about five times larger than previously. "Mamma Mia" was a possible reaction as well as the name of the maternal flip side of this production. The recordings were given a shot at commercial acceptance in the early '50s as well as another chance to take aim at the charts in the middle of the decade following a remastering job by the original producer, Joe Davis.

Houston's most famous recordings were done earlier with the Johnny Long Orchestra. This outfit was active in the '40s and tended to carry a selection of vocalists including several female singers and the sort of creepy vocal group known as a "glee club," one of which drifted to the front of the Long band under the name of the Beachcombers. A 1942 musical short which has been reissued by a video archive company features Houston singing "September Song" with the Long band. Other vocalists in Long's long roster of such creatures included Julie Wilson, Paul Harman, and Helen Young.