b. 1 August 1912, Missoula, Montana, USA, d. 16 February 1997, Sacramento, California, USA. When Kemper turned to band leading in 1942, he had already made his name with Dick Jurgens’ orchestra from 1934-40, playing on their massive hit, ‘Cecilia’. He also appeared frequently in Horace Heidt’s Pot Of Gold radio show, and the film of similar title. He used this reputation to piece together his first dance band in San Francisco with vocalist Ruth Russell. The most notable musical sideman was Claude Gordon, who would later form a dance band in his own right. Original compositions were written for the purpose, including ‘It’s A Hundred To One (I’m In Love)’, ‘Knit One - Purl Two’, ‘The Doodlebug Song’ and ‘What You Gonna Do With Somebody Else’, though their theme tune remained ‘Cecilia’, which always garnered a rapturous reception from audiences. However, Horace Heidt was reluctant to free Kemper from his contract with him, which stipulated that his musicians could only be released if America was attacked during World War II. Luckily for Kemper, a Japanese submarine made a token effort at bombarding Brookings, Oregon, in the summer of 1942 and thus facilitated Kemper’s freedom. Kemper took up the cudgels and began touring in earnest, but his career ended prematurely when he was, ironically, called into the services himself. After the war ended he chose not to pursue his bandleading career.
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