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|In Tune -- by Bill Fuller
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The Feuding Dorsey Brothers
Excerpts from “Two Rounds with the Battling Dorseys” –Esquire Jazz Book -1947
Tommy (on Jimmy)
My being the younger of the Dorsey boys puts me in rather a spot...I won’t say I was particularly envious.
Shall we say I was just determined to catch up.
Can you blame me for getting sore at him?...One time he had me scooting all over the country trying to
Most of our fights... took place at a midtown [ spot] named Plunkett’s. I remember I got so mad at him at
Plunkett’s one day that I...smashed all his saxophones on a radiator. That fight started over who was
gonna stand in front of the band at Glen Island.
I couldn’t tell you what we fought about most of the time. I remember once... I went down to the pier to
meet Jimmy [who had been touring Europe]. We hadn’t seen each other for months, but within five
minutes we were fighting again.
We’ve made a solemn promise to remain good boys. Some of our staunchest fans... claim we’re getting old
and soft. A music critic [said]”The lull in the band business is due to the Dorseys not fighting anymore.”
Jimmy (on Tommy)
It’s a good thing Tom stuck to the trombone. He’d never make much of a fighter. I know because I used
to whip him daily...
Tommy and I staged more battles in Plunkett’s than any other spot... In the phone book Plunkett’s was
called “The Trombone Club.” That’s on account of Tommy was the best customer. He owed the till...$850.
Even as kids those Dorsey battles were usually about music. When [a decade later] we did make the
grade and rated some national recognition for the Dorsey Brothers name... we were... mixed up in the
very complicated business of big-time music. The pressure... under those conditions kind of showed up on
both of us. Ask any patron of Glen Island Casino who was there on May 30, 1935.
In the long run it’s hard to say who won what battle. We just went our separate ways...Tommy has his
musicians, I have mine and never the twain shall meet.
Oh, I guess we’ll fight again...but it’ll never seem as much fun as it was at Plunkett’s when Jack Bland and
Vic Berton would be holding me down while ...Miff Mole and Mugsy Spanier were hanging on to Tommy
trying to keep us apart.
Here are some of the many tunes The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra recorded over the years:
MY MELANCHOLY BABY-written in 1912 by Earnie Burbett and introduced by Walter Van Brunt;
recorded by the Dorsey Brothers (as the Competition Orchestra) for Parlaphone in 1928.
AM I BLUE-written in 1929 by Harry Akst. Used in the movie “On with the Show” starring Ethel Watters
and Joe E. Brown; recorded by the Dorsey Brothers (as The Travelers) for OKeh in 1929.
OUT IN THE COLD AGAIN-written by Rube Bloom in 1934, and popularized by Ruth Etting; recorded
by the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra for Decca in 1934.
LOVE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER-written in 1934 by Lewis E. Gensler, and introduced by Bing
Crosby in the film “Here is My Heart.” Recorded by the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra for Decca in 1934.
MEAN TO ME- (1929) by Roy Turk and Fred Ahlert. This torch song was introduced by Ruth Etting and
later, the recording by Teddy Wilson with Billie Holiday hit the charts for four weeks in 1937. The Dorsey
Brothers recorded it for Okeh in 1929.
LOVER COME BACK TO ME- (1928) by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II. This song was
introduced by Evelyn Herbert on September 19, 1928, at the Imperial Theater in New York as part of the
musical The New Moon.. It too was recorded by the Dorsey Brothers for Okeh in 1929.
I’M GETTING SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU – (1933) by George Bassman and Ned Washington. This tune,
which became Tommy Dorsey’s theme song, was introduced by a British band, The Blue Mountaineers.
The Dorsey Brothers first recoding of the tune went nowhere, but their second recording, in 1934, for
Brunswick, with Bob Crosby doing the vocal, made the charts.
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