Glenn Miller’s Favorite Singing Group

I have to admit that the title of this piece represents an assumption on my part, but I would guess it’s probably accurate. Since the Modernaires played an important role in the band’s success during Glenn Miller’s biggest years, you’d have to draw that conclusion, even if he might have secretly coveted Tommy Dorsey’s Pied Pipers.

Three buddies in Buffalo started the Modernaires in 1935, although they didn’t call themselves that when they first began performing with bands. Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway performed as the Don Juan Three at times, and a little later — when they joined future TV star Ozzie Nelson’s band — they became the Wizards of Ozzie.

Within a couple of years, they’d become a quartet by adding Ralph Brewster, and had latched on with early jazz legend Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. But even though Whiteman was still popular he was beginning to be eclipsed by the newer hot bands, and by the close of the decade the Modernaires had joined Glenn Miller’s hugely successful outfit.

Over the next few years, the Modernaires would participate in some of the band’s biggest hits, including songs like “Chattanooga Choo-choo,” “Kalamazoo,”and “Juke Box Saturday Night.” Along the way the group added a female singer, Paula Kelly, who would end up marrying Dickinson.

After Miller dissolved his band and went off for his ill-fated military service, the Modernaires — by now promoting Paula Kelly as the face of the group — continued to perform to great success. During the post-war years they remained popular, and spent some time appearing and recording with Frank Sinatra. By the late 1950s things had slowed down, but the group continued to perform off and on for the next couple of decades before finally retiring.

Glenn Miller Orchestra w/ Paula Kelly & Modernaires – “I Know Why”

2 thoughts on “Glenn Miller’s Favorite Singing Group

  1. Not too bold at all, Peter. It’s just the kind of thing we all like and I would urge everyone to take a look at it.

    (PS That famous choo choo has shown up a couple of times on the GMC too. You can find them HERE and HERE.)

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