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Tommy Dorsey Biography

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Famous trombonist and bandleader Tommy Dorsey was born on November 19, 1905, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Dorsey came from a musical family and, as a kid, learned to play the trumpet and trombone. With brother Jimmy, Tommy played in a number of groups growing up. They have success before the mid-1930s. Dorsey expired on November 26, 1956, in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Produced on November 19, 1905, in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Tommy Dorsey was among the most famous bandleaders of the swing era. He along with his brother, Jimmy, were shoved into becoming musicians by their dad, who taught both boys the best way to play their instruments. Tommy started out on the trumpet, after changing to the trombone.

The Dorsey brothers started performing at an early age. Two of their early groups were Dorsey’s Novelty Six and Dorsey’s Wild Canaries. In the 1920s, Tommy joined Jimmy in the Scranton Sirens. From the end of the decade, Tommy and Jimmy had started record as the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. They had their first hit in 1928 with “Coquette.” In 1934, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey formed a touring orchestra. Their group was well-received, but it did not continue long. The pair stayed estranged for decades later.

In 1935, Tommy Dorsey took over Joe Haymes’s orchestra to form his group. The newest orchestra shortly proved to be popular, reaching the very top of the charts that December with “On Treasure Island.” Dorsey had success in what’s now regarded as among his signature songs, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” around this same time.

More hits followed through the late 1930s and early ’40s. Sinatra remained together with the Orchestra until 1942, singing on such successful singles as “I Will Never Smile Again” and “Dolores.” Additionally in this time around, Dorsey made numerous movie appearances, playing himself in movies like Birth of the Blues (1941) and Ship Ahoy (1942). As interest in swing music started to disappear, Tommy Dorsey worked hard to maintain his orchestra together.

The Dorsey brothers soon found success on the little display. In 1954, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra got a unique show called Stage Show, produced by comic/television personality Jackie Gleason (a good friend of Tommy Dorsey’s), and hosted by Tommy and Jimmy. Initially planned as a short-term replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show, for the summer of ’54, Stage Show became a weekly show in 1955 and continued until Tommy’s untimely death in 1956. Tommy Dorsey died at his Greenwich, Connecticut, house on November 26, 1956, after seemingly choking on food in his sleep after eating a big meal and taking an unknown quantity of sleeping pills. The next year, Dorsey wed Jane New. Dorsey and his third wife were in process of divorcing during the time of his passing.

Tommy Dorsey Biography