For Indianapolis Colts fans who are suffering through the absence of Peyton Manning, I offer a Manning of a different type — a crooner. Of course, baritone balladeer Bob Manning actually started life as Manny Levin, but even if he was sort of a faux Manning he was still a good singer who didn’t receive nearly enough recognition during his career.
As a native of a city with a rich musical legacy like Philadelphia’s, Manning was presented with a number of opportunities when he began his career in the post-war years. He soon found work singing in hotels and clubs, and even had his own radio show for a while. He also spent some time touring with bands, but it was a hard life for the singer, who had hip problems for most of his life.
By the early 1950s he was determined to make it as a recording artist, something that had eluded him to that point. With the financial backing of a friend, he made his own record of a Hoagy Carmichael song, “The Nearness Of You,” and it proved to be a good idea. The record was reissued by Capitol and became his biggest seller, at the same time establishing Manning nationally as a new name in crooning.
In subsequent years, he would spin out a number of good selling records but unfortunately the 1950s also marked the beginning of a big shift in pop music. Like many balladeers of the era, Manning would find less and less success as the rock and roll revolution took hold. Although he had many fans and continued to work for a number of years, he eventually faded from public view.