Howard, Eddy

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Howard, Eddy

Howard, Eddy, engaging popular singer, bandleader, and songwriter; b. Woodland, Calif., Sept. 12, 1914; d. Palm Springs, Calif., May 23, 1963. A crooner in the style of Rudy Vallée, Howard was one of the most popular male solo singers of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He led a band that existed mostly to support his warm, well-articulated singing of ballads and novelty songs. Including his hits as vocalist with Dick Jurgens’s Orch., he reached the charts 44 times between 1939 and 1955, his most successful recordings being “To Each His Own,” “Sin,” and “I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder” He also wrote songs, among them his theme, the chart-topping “Careless.”

Howard grew up in southern Calif, and attended San Jose State Coll. and Stanford Univ. Medical School. He got a job singing on the radio in L.A., then worked with several bands. He also played guitar, but he got into the Dick Jürgens band in San Francisco in 1934 by auditioning on the trombone. He stayed with the band as its singer and guitarist until 1940. In October 1939, Jurgens’s recording of “It’s a Hundred to One You’re in Love” (music and lyrics by Jürgens and Ronnie Kemper) with Howard on vocals made the hit parade.

Howard, Jürgens, and the band’s arranger, Lew Quadling, wrote the music and lyrics for “Careless,” which they submitted to Irving Berlin’s publishing company. Berlin wrote a new set of lyrics without taking credit and published the song, which was given its most successful recording by Glenn Miller and His Orch.—a #1 hit in February 1940. The same month, Howard enjoyed his biggest hit with the Jürgens band, “In an Old Dutch Garden (By an Old Dutch Mill)” (music by Will Grosz, lyrics by Mack Gordon), which spent 11 weeks in the hit parade. That was enough to convince him to leave Jürgens and go it alone. Meanwhile, two of his compositions became hits, “A Million Dreams Ago” (music and lyrics by Howard, Lew Quadling, and Dick Jürgens) for Jürgens in August and “Now I Lay Me Down to Dream” (music and lyrics by Howard and Ted Fiorito) for Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy in November.

Howard signed to Columbia Records as a solo act and from January to May 1941 sang on Edgar A. Guest’s network radio series. But he soon formed his own band. He struggled during the early 1940s but managed to land spots on the radio series Carton of Cheer in 1944 and 1945 and The Gay Mrs. Featherstone from April to October 1945. Then, having switched to the Majestic record label, he finally scored a major hit with “To Each His Own” (music by Jay Livingston, lyrics by Ray Evans), which hit #1 in August 1946 and became a million-seller. He enjoyed a second Top Ten hit in 1946 with “The Rickety Rickshaw Man” (music and lyrics by Ervin Drake) in December, then scored five Top Ten hits in 1947, including “My Adobe Hacienda” (music and lyrics by Louise Massey and Lee Penny) and “I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder” (music and lyrics by Daryl Hutchins). He also made the Top Ten with his album Romance and was the top recording artist of the year.

Howard’s success brought him his own network radio series, Sheaffer Parade, which ran from September 1947 to September 1948. He scored two more Top Ten hits in 1948, including “(I’d Love to Get You) On a Slow Boat to China” (music and lyrics by Frank Loesser), which marked his switch to Mercury Records. There were six more Top Ten hits between 1949 and 1952, notably “Sin” (music by George Hoven, lyrics by Chester R. Shull), which hit #1 in November 1951 and sold a million copies.

Howard continued to reach the charts through 1955 while performing on radio and in live appearances. He was living in Palm Springs, Calif., in 1963 and preparing for the summer season on Catalina Island when he choked to death on food particles at 48. After his death, an Eddy Howard Orch. was organized and led by Chris Powers.

—William Ruhlmann

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Howard, Eddy

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