In the late 1920s, successful musical ensembles usually featured a style that sounds pretty square to us now. Bands often included string sections and specialized in sweet songs perfect for dancing. They usually had a crooner or two around too, and groups led by guys like Paul Whiteman and Anson Weeks provided work for a lot of future stars. In fact, Whiteman helped Bing Crosby get off to a good start, but Weeks did him one better – he not only worked with Bing but also gave brother Bob Crosby his first singing job.
Anson Weeks was a California native, born and raised in the Oakland area, and first began to find some success in the jazz world in the early 1920s. His forte was organizing and leading rather than performing, and when he formed his first orchestra in 1924 it didn’t take long for the group to find some traction. As was often the practice in those days, his orchestra found a regular gig as the house band for a hotel, the ritzy Mark Hopkins in San Francisco.
The engagement would last for seven years, a period that would also see the introduction of many future stars, including Xavier Cugat, and singers Tony Martin and Dale Evans — before she became the Queen Of The Cowgirls. He also gave Bob Crosby his first singing job (and would later back up brother Bing on one of his early, star-making hits, “Please.”)
Along the way, Weeks’ orchestra hit the recording studio with regularity, and also began a regular radio show, the Lucky Strike Magic Carpet (promoted as ‘Let’s Go Dancin’ With Anson’). The band’s fame grew so much that by the early 1930s Weeks was able to move it to New York’s prestigious St. Regis Hotel, where it would continue to do well for the rest of the decade. Unfortunately, Weeks was then severely injured in an auto accident and subsequently left music for many years while he tried to rebuild his health. In the 1950s he was finally able to restart things with a smaller group, finding a little success on tour and with the occasional record, but never really hit it big again. He died in 1969 at age 72.