Sammy Kaye

Picture of Sammy Kaye

Sammy Kaye was a memorable name of the Big Band Era whose catchy tag line, "Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye", became one of the most famous of the of that time.  His signature tune was "Harbor Lights".  Kaye could play both saxophone and clarinet, but for some reason he never featured himself as a soloist on either one.

He made a large number of records for many different labels. Kaye was also a hit on the radio because of his radio-friendly "Sweet" style and sound. He was famous for an audience participation gimmick called "So You Want to Lead a Band?" where audience members would be called onto stage in an attempt to lead the band.  He just wasn't a good bandleader, he had a great grasp of marketing and band promotion.  I'm not sure if any other band leader from the era even came close to Sammy Kaye as far as his creative promotions and branding.


Listen to "Don't Fence Me In" - Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye

His band members included a few big names including Ralph Flanagan and Don Cornell. All the members of the band sometimes sang backing vocals in various combination as the "Kaydets". His musicians were always competent, but because of his radio-friendly style, reviewers felt the band was unoriginal.

Though the music critics were hard on Sammy Kaye, this didn't keep him off the charts, and it didn't stop him from being one of the bigger names of the Big Band Era.

You can hear many of Sammy Kaye's songs right here, on Swing City Radio.

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