The hits of 1941: Jimmy Dorsey

Tommy’s big brother

Jimmy DorseyPoor Jimmy Dorsey. He was a successful jazz bandleader, especially in 1941. But he only had 13 birthdays. That’s in part because James Francis Dorsey was born on Leap Year Day in 1904.

Jimmy was the big brother of Tommy Dorsey. They were born in Shenandoah, PA, the sons of Theresa Langton Dorsey and Thomas Francis Dorsey. Their “father, Thomas, was initially a coal miner, but would later become a music teacher and marching-band director.” The older brother played clarinet and the saxophone.

“In 1927, the brothers created the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra… Despite their success, the brothers frequently disagreed over management of the band and their conflict would come to a head in May 1935 when, after an onstage disagreement, Tommy stormed off.”

I imagine there was a sibling competition going on. In 1941, Tommy Dorsey had four songs in the Top 4, three with a promising young singer named Frank Sinatra, who reportedly had blue eyes.

Combination of the two

“Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey reunited on March 15, 1945, to record a V-Disc … The songs featured the combined orchestras of Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey.

“In 1947…, the brothers would put aside their tensions to film The Fabulous Dorseys. The film was a look inside the brothers’ lives from practicing as children to making it big as adults; the brothers played themselves in the film. It also highlighted their struggles leading the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra and showed what their lives were like on the road…”

In 1950, Tommy offered Jimmy “a seat in the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. In 1953, Tommy and Jimmy would rename the band, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Tommy was the leader of the group, and made Jimmy both the co-leader and featured soloist.

“In 1956, after Tommy Dorsey died from choking in his sleep, Jimmy took over leadership of the orchestra. Around that same time, Jimmy was diagnosed with throat cancer.” He died June 12, 1957, at age 53, in New York City.

Hits of 1941

Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy) – Jimmy Dorsey with Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell. Ten weeks at #1, gold record.

Chatanooga Choo Choo – Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke. Nine weeks at #1, gold record. It topped the charts when the United States entered World War II.

Piano Concerto in B Flat – Freddy Martin. Eight weeks at #1, gold record. Tchaikovsky piece played by Jack Fina.
Daddy – Sammy Kaye. Eight weeks at #1.

Green Eyes (Aquellos Ojos Verdes) – Jimmy Dorsey with Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell. Four weeks at #1, gold record.

Maria Elena – Jimmy Dorsey with Bob Eberly. Two weeks at #1, gold record.
My Sister and I – Jimmy Dorsey with Bob Eberly. Two weeks at #1.

Elmer’s Tune  – Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke. One week at #1.
Blue Champagne – Jimmy Dorsey with Bob Eberly. One week at #1.
Song of the Volga Boatmen  – Glenn Miller. One week at #1. Yes, the Russian folk song.

I always associate 1941 with two baseball stories. It was the season that Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 consecutive games, and Ted Williams became the last player to date to bat over .400, .406 to be precise.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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