Glenn Miller has made several appearances on the GMC, and we’ve also featured Ray McKinley (In The Footsteps Of Glenn Miller), who took over Miller’s reconstituted band in later years. But there was another guy who sort of latched on to the Miller bandwagon; Ralph Flanagan, who led a band that was known for its ‘Glenn Miller Sound’.
Born as Ralph Elias Flenniken in Lorain, Ohio (near Cleveland), the budding musician was also an honor student while in high school. Within a few years of graduation he was finding some success playing piano and doing arrangements for Sammy Kaye’s band, but like many young men of his era, his musical career was interrupted by World War II and his service in the Merchant Marine.
In the post-war years Flanagan continued to work as an arranger and composer, and eventually was able to form an orchestra of his own, one that specialized in appealing to the late Glenn Miller’s fans. It would prove to be a popular outfit well into the 1950s, with good-selling records on songs like “Hot Toddy,” “Rag Mop,” and the band’s theme song, “Singing Winds,” which was also the name of the vocal group.
Over a relatively short period Flanagan and his group generated a surprising number of records, judging by what is still available. But the music world was changing rapidly, and as the years passed Flanagan eventually dissolved the band and found himself mostly composing and arranging for others. Eventually retiring from music, he died at age 81 in 1995.
Ralph Flanagan Orchestra – “Singing Winds”