20 November

Skeeter Best
Guitar, b.1914 d.1985, Kinston, NC

June Christy
Vocal, b.1925 d.1990, Springfield, IL
June Christy was an American Jazz singer popular in the 1950s. She started eventually gaining her fame when, in 1945, she became the vocalist for the Stan Kenton orchestra. She pursued a solo career in 1954 and is best known for her recording of “Something Cool”.
June Christy was born Shirley Luster in Springfield, Illinois on November 25th, 1925, and moved to Decatur, Illinois when she was three. She began to sing at the young age of 13. She appeared with a local society band during high school, and moved to Chicago in the early ’40s, 150 miles away from Springfield. She changed her name to Sharon Leslie, sang with a group led by Boyd Raeburn, and joined Benny Strong’s band afterwards. Neither of her involvements led her to a successful career, and she found working in the music industry very difficult and frustrating. As a result, in 1945, she considered giving up her dream of becoming a singer. Then in the same year she heard that Anita O’Day was going to leave Stan Kenton’s Orchestra.
In 1945, after hearing that Anita O’Day had left Stan Kenton’s Orchestra, she auditioned and got the role as a vocalist. At first, she bore a heavy resemblance to Anita O’Day, both physically and vocally. She eventually found her unique vocal style, characterized by a warm and smooth voice with a unique enunciation. During the time when she sang in the Orchestra, she changed her name once again to June Christy. Her unique voice produced successful hits such as “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy,” the million-selling “Tampico” in 1945, and “How High the Moon”. “Tampico” was Kenton’s biggest-selling record. When the Kenton Band temporarily disbanded in 1948, she sang in nightclubs for a short time, and reunited with the band two years later in 1950.
From 1952, she started to work on her own records, primarily with the arranger and bandleader Pete Rugolo. In 1954, she released her own LP “Something Cool”, recorded with Rugolo and his orchestra, a gathering of notable Los Angeles jazz musicians that included her husband, multi-instrumentalist Bob Cooper. “Something Cool” was rereleased as a 12″ LP in 1955 with additional selections, and then entirely rerecorded in stereo in 1960 with a somewhat different personnel. “Something Cool” was also important in launching the vocal cool movement of the 1950s, and it hit the Top 20 Charts, as did her third album “The Misty Miss Christy” (1956). She continued to release more records, which influenced future jazz vocalists and set new standards for the music. She retired from public performance in 1965, returning to the recording studio only once more, in 1977, to record her last LP, “Impromptu.” After struggling with illness for many years, she died of kidney failure on June 21, 1990.

For more info go to http://www.belten.freeserve.co.uk/misty/june.htm

Julian Fuhs
Piano, Leader, b.1891 d.1933, Berlin, Germany

Ray Price
Banjo, Guitar, Band Leader, b.1921, Sydney, Australia

Colin Smith
Trumpet, b.1934 d.2004, London, England

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