The Crooners

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A story circulates that the typewriter belonging to one of the most famous music critics in history has the correct spelling for "rhythm" affixed permanently to its front with a regularly freshened strip…
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A story circulates that the typewriter belonging to one of the most famous music critics in history has the correct spelling for "rhythm" affixed permanently to its front with a regularly freshened strip of adhesive tape. What is arguably the most complicated concept in music theory is certainly the term that gets spelled wrong most frequently. For record collectors with an unlimited budget, a grand prize exists that is an example of this phenomenon: "There's Religon in Rythm" (sic), cut by a group calling itself the Crooners and released on the QRS label in 1929.

This group was greatly overshadowed by details such as the spelling mistake in the song title and the extreme impossibility of ever finding a copy since at one point in this label's bankruptcy procedures someone smashed all existing stock with a sledgehammer. Perhaps this was a reaction to the previously mentioned spelling mistake; at any rate, the assignment of Q-1013 as a catalog number also suggests the Crooners had some bad luck coming, despite putting out a record in the year generally considered to represent the big boom year for the smooth and gentle singing style which came to be known as crooning.

That the style would retain such enduring popularity, and its proponents collectively remembered as "crooners," meant certain extinction in terms of any kind of collective recall of a group that chose the term as a band name, even though at the time it was obviously the commercial thing to do. Not much is known about the people that made this recording other than the description provided by the label, "a male quartet with piano." But there is a direct connection between the Crooners group and an album entitled Art Deco: The Crooners released in 1993 by Sony. That's the presence of singer and songwriter Willard Robison, who performs on several tracks such as "The Devil Is Afraid of Music." Robison composed the song "There's Religon in Rhythm" -- that's the correct spelling -- and may even have been one of the singers in the band. The flip side entitled "Medley of Sea Shanties" was a typical music publishing move of this era -- since all the material included was not copyrighted, the publisher connected with QRS could simply cook up a pseudonym and then dine on the royalties.