When he died earlier this year at age 86, Jimmie C. Newman was still making occasional appearances at the Grand Ole Opry, where he’d been entertaining fans for more than a half-century. One of the true legends of country music, he originally made his name on several hit records that featured a traditional style, but later in his career returned to the music of his heritage and became the king of Country-Cajun.
Born near Big Mamou, Louisiana, Jimmy Yves Newman grew up surrounded by the Cajun culture. In fact, his family spoke French more often than English, and his exposure to music followed the same course. He also listened to plenty of regular country music on the radio, including his favorite, Gene Autry, but when he began his own career in the mid-1940s it was as part of a local Cajun music group. Still just in his teens, Newman was a solid singer and soon became known for his strong guitar work.
By the early 1950s he’d made his way to Nashville and was beginning to make a name for himself in traditional country music, culminating with his first big hit, “Cry, Cry, Darling.” It was the beginning of a decade that would see him generate several Top Ten records — including his biggest, “A Fallen Star” — while also appearing in high profile venues like the Louisiana Hayride and eventually, the Grand Old Opry.
An established star at the beginning of the 1960s, Jimmy Newman then began billing himself as Jimmy C. Newman, with the ‘C’ signifying his return to the Cajun music of his early days. Even though he continued to entertain his Grand Ole Opry fans with his many honky-tonk hits, more and more of his efforts featured Cajun music, and he eventually became known as the king of Country-Cajun. It was a crown he’d wear proudly for the rest of his life.
We’re way overdue for a new edition of Fantastic Foursome, the special feature that presents four different takes on a song (plus a video of the definitive version) and lets you decide which you like best. Of course, voting in the poll is completely voluntary but it’s quick, easy, and anonymous.
Most of us will remember “Friendly Persuasion” as performed by Pat Boone, and you might also recall that he sang it on the soundtrack of the 1956 film of the same name. The movie featured a peace-loving Quaker family coping with the Civil War, and the title was a play on the other name used by Quakers, the Society of Friends.
The song itself was composed by movie music maestro Dimitri Tiomkin with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, and it became one of Tiomkin’s many Oscar-nominated pieces. (Although not one of his three winners — it was beaten out for the award by Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Sera” from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.)
Pat Boone’s version was by far the most popular record of the song, but other notable renditions included those by the Four Aces, the Lettermen, Ray Coniff, Johnny Mathis, Matt Monro, and Aretha Franklin. Even jazz pianist George Shearing got into the act, recording one of a number of instrumental versions.
Below are four you can try: (You can also access music in left column.)
Glenn Miller was one of the biggest names around during the the big band era, and he remained an iconic figure even after his tragic death near the end of World War II. But he was also a good friend to many, as Hal McIntye could have attested. Miller not only encouraged his band-mate to form his own outfit but also helped with the financing, and the Hal McIntye Orchestra became a solid success for a number of years.
Harold William McIntyre was a Connecticut native who grew up pointed toward music, learning to play both clarinet and sax at a level that allowed him to work professionally even as a teenager. In fact, he was still in his late teens when he began leading his own small band in the early 1930s, and within a couple of years had logged enough experience to work his way into a spot with Benny Goodman. Even though it was just temporary it allowed him to catch the attention of Glenn Miller, who was in the process of putting together his own band, one that would become a juggernaut.
As one of the original members of Miller’s group McIntyre was a valuable part of the band’s success during the four years he stayed, but in 1941 he decided to try his luck as the leader of his own outfit. His boss and friend encouraged him, helped with financial support, and paved the way for McIntyre to make his debut leading ‘The Band That America Loves’ at one of Miller’s favorite spots, New York’s prestigious Glen Island Casino.
It was the beginning of over a decade of success for McIntyre, as his band became one of the most popular around. During the war years it appeared in most of the big venues, including major hotel ballrooms and the Hollywood Palladium, and also spent a lot of time entertaining the troops overseas. Along the way the band made a lot of well-received records and continued to do so in the post-war years, but as the 1950s began the big band era was drawing to a close. McIntyre’s group made one more big splash by providing the backing for the Mills Brothers’ huge hit record of “Glow Worm,” but things went downhill after that. Tragically, McIntyre was killed in a home fire in 1959. He was just 44 when he died.
*8/14/14 - New Special Feature - Earworms!
*4/26/14 - New Special Feature - Five Star Favs*1/15/14 - Lillie from 'Billy & Lillie' visits GMC! See HERE*9/25/13 - Dick Stabile's grandson checks in. See HERE.*8/23/13 - Jimmy Clanton visits GMC! -- see HERE
Anatomy of a Song Country Catalyst Diamonds In Rough
All videos are linked from other sources. Sometimes they are removed or deleted at the original site, which disables them here. Music samples are medium quality and available only for a limited time. Any artists or their reps who request removal, we'll be glad to comply. The same is true of any other copyrighted material used in the creation of this blog.