Bobby Byrne

Bobby Byrne

In November 1939, Bobby Byrne formed his own band, based out of Detroit, with the assistance of manager Tommy Rockwell and the backing of Jimmy Dorsey, for whom he continued to record until at least April 1940. After signing contracts with Decca Records and the Glen Island Casino, Byrne's career as a bandleader appeared to be off to a positive start. In July 1940, he suffered an attack of appendicitis. He conspired to keep news of his ailment from his father, however Glenn Miller found out about his illness and relayed the news home. Byrne was able to delay surgery until fall of that year. His theme, "Meditation at Moonlight", was composed expressly for him by Peter de Rose and Mitchell Parish. After World War II began, Byrne struggled to keep his band going, constantly needing to replace band members lost to the draft. In 1943, while touring Florida, he joined the Army Air Corps. His band continued under Jack Jenney until he also joined the military several months later.

Byrne left the army in 1945 and began recording for the Cosmo label. He formed another band in 1949, featuring woodwind and French horn tone colorings. Bill Simon liked the sophisticated aural shadings, but felt they were not suited to many of the venues where the band performed. At this point Byrne signed with Mercury Records and became musical director for the ABC Television show Club Seven. He re-built his band yet again in 1950, eliminating woodwinds and focusing on brass and saxes, not to mention his occasional harp solo. This band included his brother Don and a sax section led by Larry Elgart. Critic Bill Simon considered this ensemble to be an improvement over Byrne's previous one. He applauded the improvements in singing and in the rhythmic numbers, while noticing the improved attendance at Byrne's performances.

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