Friday, October 29, 2010

late night: The world's very first pop star.

It is generally accepted that Al Bowlly, also
known as "The Big Swoon", was the world's
very first pop star: his "modern singing style",
good looks and charisma made him the very
first singer to ever become internationally
popular. Before him, singers often remained
anonymous while band-leaders were  the
stars of the show.

Bowlly's success started in the early 1930's
when he landed a record contract with the
Ray Noble Orchestra, recording over 500
songs between 1930 and 1934. One of
those tunes happens to be his incredible
rendition of "Midnight, the stars and you",
a song you might be familiar with as it was
featured in Stanley Kubrik's "The Shining".

Thanks to popular demand, Al was the very first singer to have a solo spot on
BBC Radio. He had records under his own name and was constantly mobbed
by women for autographs and pictures but by 1937 he had developed a wart
in his throat that would scar his voice forever.

He,however, kept performing until 1941 where he recorded his last song: a duet
with Jimmy Messene called "When that man is dead and gone" a tune that mocked
Hitler. Ironically, 2 weeks after his last recording, on April 17th 1941, Al Bowlly
was killed by a parachute mine dropped by the Luftwaffe that exploded next to his
home in London during the Blitz.

note: you can hear that singers weren't particularly the main attraction
back in those times as the vocal parts only kick-in halfway through.

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