Greg Poppleton

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Johnny Green. Heard Him. Heard Of Him? – Phantom Dancer 12 May 2020

Johnny Green was a U.S composer, songwriter, pianist, band leader and orchestra conductor. His most famous song is ‘Body and Soul’.

On this week’s Phantom Dancer we’ll be hearing a few of the 1930s radio orchestras lead by Johnny Green. And below, on your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week you can see a short film of the Johnny Green band in action. The short was made in 1935.

This week you’ll also hear sets with Patti Page, Johnny Ray and Erroll Garner from live 1957 TV and some of the great swing bands from the 1930s live on the 1938-39 BBC series, ‘America Dances’.

Produced and presented by Australia’s only authentic 1920s-30s singer, Greg Poppleton, The Phantom Dancer is your non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-1960s radio and TV every week.

Hear this week’s Phantom Dancer (after 12 May) and past Phantom Dancers online at radio


He won four Academy Awards for his film scores and a fifth for producing a short musical film. And he went by the name of John or ‘Maestro’ in his later years.

As you’ll hear on today’s live 1930s radio broadcasts of Johnny Green and his Orchestra, Green couldn’t help but be self-assured.

He entered Harvard at age 15. You’ll hear him talk today on a 1939 aircheck about his early music schooling and his first song as a kid.

Indeed, by the time he was at Harvard, bandleader Guy Lombardo had heard Green’s Gold Coast Orchestra and hired him to create dance arrangements for his nationally famous Lombardo orchestra.


Green’s first song hit was written for the Lombardo orchestra. It was Coquette (1928), which Green wrote when he was 19.

Two years later, in 1930, Green wrote ‘Body and Soul’ which is now a jazz standard.

In the early 30s he was the radio and recording accompanist and arranger to singers James Melton, Libby Holman and Ethel Merman, and as you’ll hear on this week’s Phantom Dancer, Ruth Etting. He was also arranger and conductor for Paramount Pictures.

In this period he also wrote the standards ‘Out Of Nowhere’ (which you’ll hear in play today), ‘Rain Rain Go Away’, ‘I Cover the Waterfront’, ‘You’re Mine You’, ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ (his 1934 Oldsmobile show theme song), ‘Easy Come Easy Go’, ‘Repeal The Blues’ and the theme for Max Fleischer’s Betty Boop cartoons.

johnny green record

Nathaniel Shilkret and Paul Whiteman commissioned Green to write larger works for orchestra, including ‘Night Club: Six Impressions for Orchestra with Three Pianos’.

After spending 1933 in London, where he wrote the first musical comedy ever for BBC Radio, Green returned to New York City where, William S. Paley, president of the Columbia Broadcasting System and an investor in New York’s St. Regis Hotel, encouraged him to form what became known as Johnny Green, his Piano and Orchestra.

And he continued to lead his orchestra in top ranking radio shows into the 1940s, backing singers such as Fred Astaire and Alan Jones.

In the early 40s, Green moved to Hollywood. He became one of the people central to changing the overall sound of the MGM Symphony Orchestra.


He was Music Director at MGM from 1949 to 1959 and was nominated for an Oscar thirteen times. He won the award for the musical scores of Easter Parade, An American in Paris, West Side Story, and Oliver!, as well as for producing the short “The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture”, which won in the Short Subjects (One-Reel) category in 1954.

johnny green an american in paris

After leaving MGM, Green guest-conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Denver Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He also continued to compose the occasional filmscore, including the critically acclaimed They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in 1969. He conducted the orchestra for the 1961 United Artists’ film version of West Side Story, for which he won a Grammy.

Green was a chairman of the music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, leading the orchestra through 17 Academy Award telecasts.


Your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week is a short film from 1935 of the Johnny Green Orchestra with sly dig at Johnny Green’s musical achievements. Enjoy…


Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #436

107.3 2SER Tuesday12 May 2020
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT)
and Saturdays 5 – 5:55pm
National Program:
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Sunday 10 – 11pm
5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am
4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am
2SEA Eden Monday 3 – 4am
2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4pm
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4pm
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Tuesday 8 – 9pm
2MCE Bathurst / Orange / Central West NSW Wednesday 9 – 10am
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Sunday 5 – 6am

Set 1
1944-46 Swing Bands on One Night Stand
Theme + Boyds Nest
Boyd Raeburn Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Club Morocco LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
19 Aug 1946
New World Jump
Bobby Sherwood Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Avodon Ballroom LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Jun 1946
Fellow on a Furlough + Blue Skies
Bob Chester Orchestra (voc) David Allyn
‘One Night Stand’
Panther Room
Hotel Sherman Chicago
AFRS Re-broadcast
8 Oct 1944
Set 2
Johnny Green Composer and Bandleader
Open + Sweet Little Heartache
Johnny Green Orchestra (voc) Jimmy Farrell
‘Fitch Summer Bandwagon’
9 Apr 1939
In the Evening + I Wanna Be Loved (theme)
Johnny Green Orchestra
‘Oldsmobile Program’
20 Feb 1934
So Far So Good
Johnny Green Orchestra
26 May 1940
Set 3
Miles Davis on 1957 Radio
Miles Davis Quintet
‘Bandstand USA’
Cafe Bohemia
WOR Mutual NY
20 Jul 1957
Set 4
The Three Ambassadors, 1931-33 TRANSCO Cocoanut Grove Radio Shows
Sweet and Lovely + Down Among The Sleepy Pines
Jimmie Grier Orchestra (voc) Jean Shark and The Three Ambassadors
‘Cocoanut Grove Show’
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
I Found a Million Dollar Baby in a Five and Ten Cent Store
Gus Arnheim Orchestra (voc) The Three Ambassadors
‘Cocoanut Grove Show’
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Seven Little Steps To Heaven
Phil Harris Orchestra (voc) The Three Ambassadors
‘Cocoanut Grove Show’
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Set 5
English Dance Bands
Let’s Put Out The Lights And Go To Sleep
Ambrose and his Orchestra
Comm Rec
26 Oct 1932
My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean
Johnny Claes and his Claepigeons (voc) Irene King
Comm Rec
Ya Got Love
Roy Fox Orchestra (voc) Al Bowlly
Comm Rec
We Shall Have Music
Jack Hylton Orchestra
AEF Programme
BBC London
7 Sep 1944
Set 6
New Orleans Jazz on Radio
Running Wild
George Lewis Jazz Band
‘Dixieland Jambake’
WDSU ABC New Orleans
7 Oct 1950
Struttin’ With Some Barbeque
Red Allen Dixielanders
‘Doctor Jazz’
Stuyvesant Casino
September in the Rain + I Got Rhythm
Eddie Condon Group
‘Eddie Condon’s Jazz Concert’
Town Hall
25 Nov 1944
Eh, La Bas
Papa Celestin
‘Dixieland Jambake’
WDSU ABC New Orleans
Set 7
A Date With The Duke on ABC 1945
Caravan + Fickle Fling
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘A Date With The Duke’
Apollo Theatre
30 Jun 1945
Hop, Skip and Jump
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘A Date With The Duke’
Toldeo OH
9 Jun 1945
C Jam Blues
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘A Date With The Duke’
Paradise Theatre
19 May 1945
Blue Skies + Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘A Date With The Duke’
Battle Creek Michigan
2 Jun 1945
Set 8
Modern Jazz on the Air
Stan Getz (ts) Kai Winding (tb) Al Haig ℗ Tommy Potter (b) Roy Haynes
‘Jazz Club USA’
Carnegie Hall
Voice of America
25 Dec 1949
How High The Moon
Allen Eager
Jun 1953
Mel’s Idea + Body and Soul
Benny Goodman Sextet
‘One Night Stand’
AFRS re-broadcast
3 Jun 1948

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