Henry King (musician)

Henry King (1906 – August 8, 1974) was an American orchestra leader and pianist who achieved significant success as a recording artist, hotel bandleader, and as leader of radio orchestras. He was most popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Today he is remembered as the orchestra leader of the Burns and Allen radio program.


Henry King was born in 1906.[1] He initially intended to be a classical concert pianist,[2] having studied under Walter Damrosch for six years.[3] Finding pop music to be more lucrative, he organized his first band in the early 1930s.[2] The band was a society band, not a jazz band, and as the band became successful it found engagement at the most prestigious hotels.[4]

Over his career, King believed his band to have broadcast more than 5000 remotes.[5] His theme was the Mitchell Parish-Frank Signorelli composition, "A Blues Serenade".[1] King became the band leader of the Burns and Allen Campbell's Tomato Juice Program "Adventures of Gracie" in 1936, his first appearance was on September 2 that year.[6] During this time period, he resided in San Francisco but traveled to Hollywood the day of the broadcast.[6] He married Baltimore resident Vilma Lewis in January 1937 in the very early hours of the morning, given special dispensation as their careers interfered with a marriage during normal hours.[7] This event was incorporated into the January 20, 1937, Burns and Allen program.[6] When Burns and Allen left CBS for NBC and a new show sponsored by Grape Nuts at the end of March 1937, King did not follow them on radio, but took on an extended appointment at the Palmer House in Chicago instead.[6] Later in his career he modified his style to focus on Latin American-influenced music, becoming an early-adopter of rhumba and samba rhythms.[4][3] In 1940 he was living in New York City on West 92nd Street.[8]

King died in Houston, Texas,[2] on August 8, 1974, following a lengthy period of poor health.[5]

King was reviewed as a superior emcee, presenting acts in a low-key manner that best suited his style.[9]

Selected discography

Year Title Peak chart positions Issued on
1933 "Speaking of Heaven" 7 Victor 24457[10]
"Don’t You Remember Me?" 16 Victor 24478 [10]
"April in Paris" 14 Victor 24478[10]
1934 "You’re a Builder Upper" 7 Columbia 2941-D[10]
"Fun to Be Fooled" 17 Columbia 2941-D[10]
1935 "Dancing With My Shadow" 9 Columbia 2992-D[10]
"So Close to the Forest" 14 Columbia 3010-D[10]
"Chasing Shadows" 7 Columbia 3048-D[10]
1936 "Would You?" 4 Decca 760[10]
"I’ve Got a Heavy Date" 19 Decca 760[10]
"A Fine Romance" 13 Decca 890[10]
1938 "A Garden in Grenada" 14 Decca 1767[10]
1940 "Palms of Paradise" 24 Decca 3072[10]
1948 "Baby Face" 14 Decca 25356[10]



  1. Studwell, William Emmett; Baldin, Mark (2000). The Big Band Reader: Songs Favored by Swing Era Orchestras and Other Popular Ensembles. Psychology Press. p. 211. ISBN 9780789009142.
  2. Lee, William F. (2005). American Big Bands. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 162. ISBN 9780634080548.
  3. "Henry King's Band to Open Natatorium". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. March 12, 1948. p. 12.
  4. Liebman, Roy. Musical Groups in the Movies, 1929–1970. McFarland & Company. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-7864-3484-8.
  5. "Maestro Henry King Dies at 68". Billboard. August 17, 1974. p. 16.
  6. Clements, Cynthia; Weber, Sandra (1996). George Burns and Gracie Allen – A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 135–137. ISBN 0-313-26883-5.
  7. "Night Marriages Scored by Court". New York Times. January 8, 1937. p. 21.
  8. "Orchestra Leader Rents Apartment". New York Times. February 1, 1940. p. 43.
  9. "Reviews:Night Clubs-Vaudevill: Biltmore Bowl, Los Angeles". Billboard. July 17, 1943. p. 17.
  10. Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890–1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. pp. 256–257. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.