Greg Poppleton

Listen to Gus Arhneim and Bing Crosby on live 1931 radio on this week's Phantom Dancer LISTEN

2SER 107.3 Sydney
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02 August 2022

(Until 02 August)

The King’s Jesters – Phantom Dancer 2 Aug 2022

Greg Poppleton's Phantom Dancer swing jazz radio show

The King’s Jesters, billed as America’s ‘biggest little band’ is this week’s Phantom Dancer feature artists. They were a vocal group who accompanied themselves on guitar, banjo and other instruments and with orchestra. They were household names in the 1930s and early 1940s.

You’ve heard them previously on The Phantom Dancer featured as a male vocal trio with Ben Bernie’s Orchestra on 1942 episodes of the weekday ‘Ben Bernie’s War Workers’ Program’.

Here’s a 1938 Standard radio transcription ofThe King’s Jesters…

The Phantom Dancer is your weekly non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV every week.

LISTEN to this week’s Phantom Dancer mix (online after 2pm AEST, Tuesday 2 August) and two years of Phantom Dancer mixes online at, at https://2ser.com/phantom-dancer/

The King Jesters’s singing for Paul Whiteman in the early 1930s…

START

The King’s Jesters began as a comic vocal trio that also played instruments along with an accompanist.

They were John Ravencroft – sax and clarinet, Francis “Fritz” Bastow – banjo and guitar, George Howard – drums and vibraphone, along with Ray McDermott – piano, accordion, and arranger.

They were hired by Paul Whiteman to replace The Rhythm Boys and sang with him from 1930 to 1931.

When they left Whiteman, they added vocalist Marjorie Whitney and called her their queen. These five were the core of the King’s Jesters.

Here are The King’s Jesters on a 1932 LP released by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra in 1932…

BREAK

The King’s Jesters were discovered by Ray McDermott. He managed them and set up an audition for Paul Whiteman, the leading orchestra leader of the 1920s, while he was touring with his band in Cincinnati.

Whiteman named them The King’s Jesters. They toured and recorded with the Whiteman band from 1931 – 32, replacing Whiteman’s famous Rhythm Boys which had included Bing Crosby.

AFTER

In 1932, after leaving Paul Whiteman, The King’s Jesters formed a new band of seven members: Fritz Bastow, George Howard and John Ravencroft, Ray McDermott who was the piano accompanist, Jimmy Awad on trumpet, Bob Casey on string bass, and singer, Marjorie Whitney, who you’ll hear this week singing, ‘Same Old Lines’, and with George Howard on ‘I’ll Love You Coast to Coast’.

The King’s Jesters broadcast daily over NBC from the Hotel Morrison in Chicago.

In June 1936 The King’s Jesters begin playing at the Bismark Hotel in Chicago, from where you’ll hear them on this week’s Phantom Dancer.

Their repertoire mixed instrumental fox trots for dancing and and vocal harmony numbers.

Pianist Ray McDermott died of pneumonia in 1937. The King’s Jesters and band then opened a new floor show in the Blue Fountain Room at the La Salle Hotel.

In July 1937, The King’s Jesters were on the front cover of the July 3, 1937 issue of the trade music bible, Billboard. They were billed as “America’s Biggest Little Band.”

After their months-long engagement at the La Salle Hotel in 1937, The King’s Jesters moved to the Fairview Hotel & Dance Gardens in Chicago.

Their 1937 show included songs like ‘Turkish Delight’,’The Deacon Steps Out’, sung with the ‘Peck-in’ dance introduced in ‘New Faces of 1937’ and ‘Today I am a Man’. Their queen, Marjorie Whitney, had a number of songs to herself, which include ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ and ‘There’ll be Changes Made’.

BENNY GOODMAN

The King’s Jesters band made two guest radio appearances with Benny Goodman and his orchestra on July 7, 1941, and one on July 24, 1941.

They appeared in the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco; William Penn hotel in Pittsburgh; LaSalle hotel in Chicago; the Carlton hotel in Washington, and the Philadelphia hotel in Philadelphia. For all these spots they broadcast over the NBC and Mutual.

The King’s Jesters stopped performing in 1962.

2 AUGUST PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney
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Community Radio Network Show CRN #556

107.3 2SER Tuesday 2 August 2022
12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT) and Saturdays 5 – 5:55pm
National Program
5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am
3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am
4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am
2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4am
2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4am
2BRW Braidwood Monday 3 – 4am
2YYY Young Monday 3 – 4am
3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm
7MID Oatlands Monday 6 -7pm
6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Tuesday 12am – 1am
2SEA Eden Tuesday 6 – 7pm
2MCE Bathurst Wednesday 9 – 10am
2RDJ Burwood Wednesday 12 – 1pm
1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm
Denmark FM (West Australia) Saturdays 10 – 11am
Repeat: Wednesdays 10 – 11pm
7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm

Set 1
Champagne Music
Champagne Music (theme) + Annabelle
Lawrence Welk Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Aragon Ballroom
Lick Pier
Ocean Park Ca
KNX CBS LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1951
Wang Wang Blues
Lawrence Welk Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Aragon Ballroom
Lick Pier
Ocean Park Ca
KNX CBS LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1951
In The Mood
Lawrence Welk Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Aragon Ballroom
Lick Pier
Ocean Park Ca
KNX CBS LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1951
Wonder Why? + CloseLawrence Welk Orchestra (voc) Dick Dale
‘One Night Stand’
Aragon Ballroom
Lick Pier
Ocean Park Ca
KNX CBS LA
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Aug 1951
Set 2
Kay Kyser
You Ought to Be in Pictures
Kay Kyser and his Band from the Carolines (voc) Art Wilson
Radio Transcription
1934
Liza
Kay Kyser and his Band from the Carolines
Radio Transcription
1934
Vieni Su
Kay Kyser and his Band from the Carolines (voc) Glee Club
Radio Transcription
1934
Rhapsody in Rain
Kay Kyser and his Band from the Carolines
Radio Transcription
1934
Set 3
More Breakfast Radio
Open Theme
Unidentified Orchestra
‘Breakfast with Bill’
WNAC Yankee Network Boston
5 Jan 1950
Chicago
Guy Lombardo Orchestra
‘Breakfast with Bill’
WNAC Yankee Network Boston
5 Jan 1950
Good News
Unannounced Orchestra
‘Breakfast with Bill’
WNAC Yankee Network Boston
5 Jan 1950
Dixie + Close
Ray Anthony Orchestra
‘Breakfast with Bill’
WNAC Yankee Network Boston
5 Jan 1950
Set 4
The King’s Jesters
Changes (theme) + I’ll Sing You a Thousand Love Songs
The King’s Jesters Orchestra
Walnut Room
Bismarck Hotel
WMAQ NBC Red Chicago
1936
Medley: Serenade in the Night + Love, What Are You Doing to My Heart?
The King’s Jesters Orchestra
Walnut Room
Bismarck Hotel
WMAQ NBC Red Chicago
1936
Same Old Lines
The King’s Jesters Orchestra (voc) Marjorie Whitney
Walnut Room
Bismarck Hotel
WMAQ NBC Red Chicago
1936
It’s Still Being Done + I Love You From Coast to Coast + Swingin’ on the Swanee Show + Close
The King’s Jesters Orchestra (voc) Marjorie Whitney and George Howard
Walnut Room
Bismarck Hotel
WMAQ NBC Red Chicago
1936
Set 5
Hopkins and Eldridge
Minor Jive
Roy Eldridge Orchestra
Aircheck
Arcadia Ballroom
New York City
1939
Chasing My Blues Away
Claude Hopkins Orchestra
Radio Transcription
New York City
1935
Mahogany Hall Stomp
Roy Eldridge Orchestra
Aircheck
Arcadia Ballroom
New York City
1939
Lazybones
Claude Hopkins Orchestra
Radio Transcription
New York City
1935
Set 6
Charlie Barnet
Theme + Back in Your Own Backyard
Charlie Barnet Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Ft Devon Mass.
Mutual Network
15 Oct 1945
I Like To Riff
Charlie Barnet Orchestra (voc) Peanuts Holland
‘For the Record’
WEAF NBC NYC
11 Sep 1944
Gulf Coast Blues
Charlie Barnet Orchestra
‘Downbeat’
AFRS Hollywood
Feb 1944
Keep the Home Fires Burning
Charlie Barnet Orchestra
‘For the Record’
WEAF NBC NYC
11 Sep 1944
Set 7
Cotton Club
O, Babe! Maybe Some Day
Duke Ellington Orchestra (voc) Ivie Anderson
Cotton Club
WABC CBS NYC
24 Mar 1938
Harlem Speaks
Duke Ellington OrchestraCotton Club
WABC CBS NYC
18 Mar 1937
Riding on a Blue Note
Duke Ellington Orchestra
Cotton Club
WOR Mutual NYC
1 May 1938
Caravan
Duke Ellington Orchestra
Cotton Club
WABC CBS NYC
18 Mar 1937
Set 8
Count Basie
One O’Clock Jump (theme) + Why Not?
Count Basie Orchestra
Birdland
WNBC NBC NYC
31 Aug 1952
Andy’s Blues
Count Basie Orchestra
Avadon Ballroom
KHJ Don Lee Network
Los Angeles
Jun 1946
Paradise Squat + Lullaby of Birdland + Close
Count Basie Orchestra
‘Stars of Jazz’
Birdland
WNBC NBC NYC
14 Jan 1953
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12:04 pm - 2:00 pm
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