Rosemary Clooney 1954

Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) was one of the most popular Amercan female singers of the 1950s. From an unstable family backgound, she began her career in 1945 with her sisters, singing together on a radio station in Cincinatti, Ohio. She then joined the big band of Tony Pastor and sang with them until 1949, when she began a solo career. She made many hit records for the Columbia label, although some of the material was not to her taste, being forced on her by the label's powerful A&R man Mitch Miller, with whom she repeatedly quarrelled. Eventually she left the label, but throughout the fifties her success continued, with appearances on TV and in films as well as a succession of popular singles and LPs. She regularly performed alongside Bing Crosby on radio and TV. In the 1960s, like many singers of her generation, she was challenged by the rise of rock'n'roll and pop, and retired from show busienss in 1968 after suffering a nervous breakdown.

In the late 1970s Rosemary Clooney made a comeback. Unlike many of her contemporaries she was successful, as she chose to concentrate on the jazz-influenced pop "standards" she liked best, rather than trying to repeat her earlier commercial successes. She recorded a series of albums for Concord Jazz, the label run by jazz-loving millionaire Carl Jefferson. These were popular with jazz audiences and re-established her credibility, playing a part in the revival of interest in earlier styles of pop singing, which began in the 1980s. In addtion to her recordings, she made many personal appearances, recorded commercials for American TV - and also became known as the aunt of the actor George Clooney.

Links to Peel

Peel featured several Rosemary Clooney tracks in his later shows, both in the Peelenium and as Pig's Big 78s (at one point provoking complaints from his listeners). It is likely that he remembered them from radio programmes of his childhood, and he admitted to having bought at least one. They included a country song, "Half As Much", a ballad, "Hey There", and a novelty song, "Come On-A My House", which Clooney was forced to record against her wishes. Jazz critic Will Friedwald describes it as part of "{Mitch] Miller's campaign of crap against {Frank] Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney and Tony Bennett" (in his Jazz Singing, New York c.1990, p.196) but also observes that it was her biggest hit. The song's title was adapted by Sparks for the title of their 1974 album, "Kimono My House".

Clooney was a supporter of the Kennedy family and was reportedly near enough to Robert Kennedy on the night he was killed in 1968 to hear the gunshots (soon afterwards, Peel paid tribute to Kennedy on Night Ride). The event contributed to her nervous breakdown; she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was institutionalised and underwent psychotherapy. In 1986 she sang an unlikely duet with fellow-sufferer and Peel favourite Wild Man Fischer, "It's A Hard Business".

Festive Fifty Entries

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Other Shows Played

Rosemary Clooney - Half As Much

Rosemary Clooney - Half As Much

(JP: "All of showbiz is agog with excitement over my ‘Embarrassing records I bought as a kid’ spot and here’s tonight’s.")
(JP: "Still no calls about the Palace Brothers but someone did phone up to complain about Rosemary Clooney. Good heavens what a shocking state of affairs.")

External Links