Harry Barris

Biography by

From the mid-'20s through the '40s, composer, vocalist, and pianist Harry Barris recorded with Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, Bing Crosby, and Duke Ellington and wrote pop standards such as "I Surrender…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

From the mid-'20s through the '40s, composer, vocalist, and pianist Harry Barris recorded with Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, Bing Crosby, and Duke Ellington and wrote pop standards such as "I Surrender Dear." Born in New York City in 1905, Barris was raised in Denver, Colorado, where he became a professional pianist by the age of 14. He was leading a touring group by the age of 17, and in the mid-'20s, began singing with Al Rinker and Bing Crosby, forming the Rhythm Boys vocal trio. Barris wrote a lot of material for the group and they recorded with 1920s cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, then became the featured vocalists of Paul Whiteman's band. The Rhythm Boys left Whiteman's band after the whole ensemble appeared in the 1930 film King of Jazz. They performed in Los Angeles until Bing Crosby quit to pursue a solo career. Barris led some bands of his own over the next couple decades, including one that featured his wife Loyce Whiteman as vocalist. Barris also fronted others' bands, such as Bob Kinney's from 1936-1937, in addition to performing on the radio. He also had occasional small roles in films, including several of Bing Crosby's like Double or Nothing (1937), as well as the movies Hollywood Party (1934) and Some Like It Hot (1939). Barris wrote several songs that became standards in pop music, including "Mississippi Mud" (1924), "It Must Be True" (1930), "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," "I Surrender Dear" (1931), and "Naturally" (1938). For a year during World War II, Harry Barris went overseas and entertained the troops along with comedian Joe E. Brown.