In 1942, while appearing at the Hollywood Palladium, a radio announcer introduced the saxophonist Les Brown's popular orchestra as His Band of Renown, and the name has stuck ever since. Les Brown's group featured Doris Day as their vocalist in the 1940's, and were known for touring with Bob Hope on his numerous USO tours.
Les had started by studying at the Ithaca Conservatory of Music and later led the Duke Blue Devils Band in North Carolina who recorded for Decca during the depression of the 1930's. After college Les found work in NYC leading a group who played at the Edison Hotel and were simulcast on NBC radio which lead to a contract with Victor subsidiary Bluebird. Soon they scored a young female singer who'd defected from Bob Crosby's band named Doris Day, but she soon left to get married.
Les got a break in 1941 with a novelty track about a NY Yankee baseball star called "Joltin Joe DiMaggio". They were broadcasting nearly 7 days a week from gigs in Long Island and Chicago when the outbreak of world war II slowed their progress with many band members drafted.
In 1943, Doris Day returned after divorcing her husband and when the recording ban ended they scored a hit with a track called Sentimental Journey, which became the perfect theme song for all of the young men returning home from the war.The Number One song in the country for some sixteen weeks,‘Sentimental Journey,’ stayed on the Hit Parade for months, and has since become an undeniable standard in the lexicon of the American popular song.
Les Brown relocated the band to Los Angeles after the war in 1945, centering their presence via regularly broadcast shows at the then very hot, Hollywood Palladium.
By 1947, Les had hooked up with number 1 box office draw Bob Hope, and in 1949 they brought movie starlet Doris Day back into the touring act. Les had the Number One instrumental tune in the country with ‘Love To Keep Me Warm,’ and Doris Day had the Number One vocal tune with ‘It’s Magic.’ They all went on a national concert tour that broke sales records wherever it landed.
When the Korean conflict broke out in 1950, Brown accopnaied Bob Hope on his first of 18 USO Christmas tours that would take Hollywood entertainment to the men on the front lines.
With the advent of television and the idling of the big band circuit, Brown eased off relentless touring in the 50's and early 60's. They appeared on numerous variety programs including the Ed Sullivan Show, The Steve Allen Show for a couple years and notably became the regular backing orchestra on the Dean Martin tv show for some 7 years beginning in 1961. Brown was also instrumental in bringing the Grammy awards to television for the first time ever, calling upon friends like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby to perform on the first telecast.
He was recognized in 1996 by the Guinness Book of World Records for the distinction of being the leader of the longest-lasting musical organization in the history of pop music.
His final album recorded in 2000 at Capitol studios in Hollywood was called Session 55 (his 55th studio project), and featured guest vocalists Jane Monheit and Lou Rawls.
The group kept going under Les Brown's leadership until Brown's eventual death at age 88 from lung cancer on Jan. 4, 2001. "The world has lost a great musician," mourned Bob Hope in a public statement, "I have lost my music man, my sideman, my straight man, and a special friend."
Fear not music fans, the group continues to perform and record some 65 years since their inception under the leadership of Les Brown Jr.
Artist descriptions on Last.fm are editable by everyone. Feel free to contribute!
All user-contributed text on this page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.