Will Osborne

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b. 25 November 1906, USA. d. 22 October 1981. Dance band Will Osborne established his first orchestra in New York City, New York, USA, in 1924, led by himself on drums and vocals. However, it was the…
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b. 25 November 1906, USA. d. 22 October 1981. Dance band Will Osborne established his first orchestra in New York City, New York, USA, in 1924, led by himself on drums and vocals. However, it was the slide trombone playing of his band that always most readily identified them. After several months playing ‘the Speakeasy Circuit’, the group followed Duke Ellington into the Kentucky Club for a year’s engagement. His featured singers included Dick Robertson, Dorothy Rogers, Joan Whitney, Janice Todd, Lynn Davis and Eileen Wilson. However, it was Osborne’s voice that dominated, and soon provoked something of a furore within the popular music industry. Osborne claimed to have invented the heavily stylized ‘crooning’ style of singing, much to the chagrin of Rudy Vallee, who argued that it was entirely his invention. This feud over the new style would run for several years. In truth it was prompted largely by Osborne’s increasing popularity, which was built on remote radio broadcasts from hotels in New York. These were sponsored by Herbert’s Blue-White Diamonds, Corn Products or Camel Cigarettes, while the orchestra’s recordings, on a variety of labels including Banner, Mellotone, Perfect, Black & White, Columbia and Decca Records, sold well. These included dual theme songs ‘Beside An Open Fireplace’ and ‘The Gentleman Awaits’, while the later ‘Pompton Turnpike’ celebrated Frank Dailey’s Meadowbrook, one of the most popular big band venues. The group continued to tour widely in the late 30s and early 40s. During the war years Osborne relocated the band to Los Angeles, where he appeared in several films. The group remained active until the late 50s, though by this time the orchestra had reduced from its original 17-piece composition. Osborne then became entertainment director at Harvey’s nightclub in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He subsequently retired to Newport Beach in California.