Armen Camp

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Briefly recording for Beacon in 1944, vocalist Armen Camp was born Armand Camp but doesn't seem to have attracted a great deal of attention under either name. His stage name, which sounds like a short…
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Briefly recording for Beacon in 1944, vocalist Armen Camp was born Armand Camp but doesn't seem to have attracted a great deal of attention under either name. His stage name, which sounds like a short description of what an infantry platoon would do following a full day of marching, was already established in the early '40s when he became a protégé of the songwriter and publisher Frank Capano. Capano's hits include the descriptive "You Wanted Someone to Play With" cut by Frankie Laine, and the weepy "Tears," co-written with Ken Dodd and Billy Uhr. With the help of a third songwriter named George Febbo, Camp and Capano wrote "Music Box Serenade." They had high hopes for the song, which starts off with the line "As I hold before me this treasured souvenir, it tells my heart a story."

Capano brought Camp to the attention of his colleague, Joe Davis, also a songwriter and publisher, and a man who had many more irons in the fire in terms of recording opportunities. In the mid-'40s, Davis was running the Beacon label and making all the A&R decisions. He didn't think a whole lot of the song about the music box; apparently, it didn't tell his heart anything, let alone a story, but he did think Camp had possibilities as a performer. This led to some four songs being recorded, all of them written by Davis. "Let's Be Honest with Each Other" was quite some title for a guy who frequently ripped off folk songs, publishing them under aliases such as E.V. Body but putting the royalty checks into his own bank account. Camp also cut Davis' "Never Be Cruel to the One You Love," a noble thought and one that Davis actually did exercise in his relationships with some of the acts he produced over a long period of time. He developed no such relationship with Camp, but the Beacon releases at least received some hoopla, a trade paper reporting Camp's recordings as having "received enthusiastic praise from coin box operators." Backup on these discs came from Archie Bleyer's Orchestra, an outfit that always featured some name jazz players. Trombonist Billy Rausch, violinist Kurt Dieterle, and the clarinetist Pete Pumiglio, who had played on recording sessions since the '20s, all contribute greatly to the polished sound of these recordings.