Formed by tenor Jinny Osborn in 1949 (whose father was national president for The Society For The Preservation And Encouragement Of Barbershop Quartet Singing In America Inc) the Chordettes - Janet Ertel, Carol Bushman and lead singer Dorothy Schwartz - got their in 1949 winning an audition for a spot on Arthur Godfrey's prestigious Talent Scouts daily TV show.
Godfrey pronounced them "air worthy" and "truly radiophonic" and the girls began a four-year stint as Godfrey regulars, sticking to a traditional a cappella barbershop repertoire and even cutting some records for Columbia. Unsurprisingly they also became the new stars of the barbershop convention circuit, and when Dorothy left the Chordettes in 1951, she was replaced by barbershopper Lynn Evans from Youngstown, Ohio.
Godfrey, dubbed "King of the Casual Communicators", insisted the girls stay pure barbershop, but his musical director, orchestra leader Archie Bleyer, disagreed. When Bleyer quit Godfrey's show to concentrate on his new record company Cadence (with its first star Julius LaRosa, who'd been sacked 'on air' by Godfrey in 1953), he was also courting Janet Ertel.
The inevitable happened: the Chordettes signed with Cadence and left Godfrey, though paying tribute to the kindness of their first mentor "He was like a little father to us", recalled Lynn Evans.
Archie and Janet wed and the bond between the Chordettes and Cadence strengthened.
Bleyer began recording the girls using simple arrangements in order not to clutter the vocals, and in 1954 their second single Mr Sandman rocketed them to major chart success. The sensational Chordettes' vocal arrangement plus the saucy flavour imparted by translating it from a man's to a girl's plea, kept Mr Sandman perched atop the US Hot 100 for seven weeks.
It was still chilly and dark on that early Sunday morning in late December as we pulled out of the driveway heading for Interstate 40. Bobby and I had been planning this trip for over a month and of course Robert & Tony were going with us. We had almost 800 miles to drive and wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to enjoy the ride. We didn't need to reach our final destination until Tuesday evening. Earlier in the week I had stopped by Triple-A and picked up a Trip-Tik. I put our four tickets inside the Trip-Tik and then into the glove compartment. This was gonna be Tony & Roberts first visit to Carlsbad Caverns and we were just as excited as they were. As usual Bobby was driving the RV and I was making Margaritas for the three of us. After all It was Five O'Clock. AM. In no time were turned off 40 onto 285 and we were on our way.
We pulled into the park entrance just before eleven and decided to have lunch before exploring the caves. As usual ChiliVerde was the menu. We still had plenty of time for the hike down 750 feet inside the earth, plenty of time to view the stalagmites & stalactites which were still growing since the time of the great Ice Age, plenty of time to explore The Hall Of Giants, and plenty of time for THE FLIGHTS OF THE BATS at dusk. Tony & Robert loved it all. Especially the flight of the bats.
We left the caverns and headed to the KOA RV park to spend the night. Monday morning came quickly but we had plenty of time for coffee and breakfast burritos before heading onto Interstate 20 to Abilene.
We pulled into The Abilene Zoo with plenty of time to enjoy lunch in the RV and then an afternoon at the zoo. It really was a fabulous Zoo even though it only covered around 13-acres and housed about 200 species. It was time for drinks so we headed to The Buck Creek RV Park right off of I-20 and settled in for a night of drinks dinner and good times. We woke up to a beautiful sunshiny New Years Eve tuesday morning and had plenty of time for coffee, showers & Chili Verde burritos before hopping back on I-20 towards Dallas. This was gonna be a night to remember. All four of us could hardly wait to get there but since we had plenty of time we decided to enjoy the morning at Buck Creek.
Bobby pulled out of the park a little after one and got back on twenty. Meanwhile I made a fresh batch. Of Margaritas. It was just a little after five when I saw the fire in the sky. So did Bobby. I screamed WTF was that and Robert & Tony came up to the front to check it out. The fire was falling thru the sky down towards the earth. And then just as quickly the fire came up from the earth and back into the sky. It was only a few minutes before the announcement was made over the radio. Ricky Nelsons plane had caught fire plunged to the ground, severed power lines slammed into a tree, lost a wing and killedeveryone on board with the exception of the two pilots who scrambled thru the cockpit windows. We were all in shock. I opened the glove compartment and grabbed the four tickets to Ricky's concert at The Park Suite. We had reached our final destination in plenty of time but Ricky hadn't. Silence. We knew we had plenty of time to cry.
A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.
His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob's wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.
Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.
The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print,_ Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer_ and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.
In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn't end there either.
Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."
The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.
The song peaked at number 21 in the UK Singles Charts in 1988, but in 2009, following the news of Jackson's death, the song peaked at number two, behind Cascada's "Evacuate the Dancefloor," having re-entered the chart at 11 the previous week as his top song on the singles chart.
It also became the No. 1 single in iTunes downloads in the U.S. and the U.K.
The song was written and composed by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard. Jackson added background vocals from Garrett, The Winans and the Andrae Crouch Choir, which gave the song its distinctive sound. The song is said to be one of his favorite songs.
In addition to appearing in several feature films and television series, Barrowman has featured on more than a dozen musical theatre recordings including cover tunes found on his 2007 album Another Side and 2008's Music Music Music. Both albums accrued places on the UK Albums Chart, as did his self-titled John Barrowman (2010), which reached number 11, his highest chart placing to date. Furthermore, Barrowman has published two memoirs and autobiographies, Anything Goes (2008) and I Am What I Am (2009), with his sister as co-author.
Barrowman met his partner Scott Gill during a production of Rope at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1993, after Gill came to see Barrowman in the play. The couple have houses in London and Cardiff. In late 2005, Barrowman said he had had no plans to marry. However, a year later, Barrowman and Gill became civil partners on 27 December 2006. Barrowman and Gill do not want to call their relationship a marriage: "We're just going to sign the civil register. We're not going to have any ceremony because I'm not a supporter of the word marriage for a gay partnership." Despite believing inGod, Barrowman explains: "Why would I want a 'marriage' from a belief system that hates me?" A small ceremony was held in Cardiff with friends and family, with the cast of Torchwood and executive producer Russell T Davies as guests.