Eddy Duchin Biography

1 April 1909, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, d. 9 February 1951, New York City, New York, USA. Immortalized by Tyrone Power, who portrayed the pianist-band leader in the movie-biography The Eddy Duchin Story, with Carmen Cavallaro providing the soundtrack keyboard work. Though trained as a pharmacist, Duchin opted to become a professional musician during the late 20s and, after auditioning against stiff opposition for the piano chair in Leo Reisman’s Orchestra, eventually gained the job. Featured as part of Reisman’s band at New York’s Central Park Casino during the next three years, he became extremely popular owing to his suave appearance and sophisticated, flashy piano style, and in 1931 he formed his own band, taking over the residency at the Casino. With violinist Milt Shaw providing many of the outfit’s supper-club type arrangements during the 30s, Duchin gained dates at many swanky venues, won various radio shows, appeared in films such as Coronado (1935) and The Hit Parade (1937), also winning a recording contract, first with Victor Records, then later with Brunswick Records and Columbia Records. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Duchin entered the navy, serving as a lieutenant. In 1945, he returned to civilian life and began leading one of the musical aggregations to bear his name, though his popularity was less than it had been prior to the war years. His health gradually declined and in February 1951 he died of leukaemia.

Although considered to be purely a society entertainer right to the end, the Duchin band did swing with reasonable heat on some occasions and once made a most unsociety-like record of ‘Old Man Mose’, which was banned by some authorities owing to an unfortunate pronunciation of the word ‘bucket’ which occurred frequently throughout the song’s lyric. After Eddy’s death his son, Peter Duchin, another ultra-smooth pianist, continued to uphold the family tradition by becoming a band leader with upper-class connections.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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