The Tragic Troubador : Buddy Clark ©2002JCMarion


Buddy Clark was born Samuel Goldberg in Dorcester, Massachusettes in 1912. At first he was headed for a career in law at Northeastern University in Boston, but soon turned to what he really loved which was singing which he had been doing on local radio. While continuing on radio in the Boston area (which he remained for eight years), he joined the band of the "King of Swing" Benny Goodman. He made his first appearance as a vocalist with the band on November 26, 1934 with his rendition of "Like A Bolt From The Blue" also released on Columbia #2988. He also sang duets with Helen Ward on "Not Bad" , and a solo effort on "Love Is Just Around The Corner" on the first of the "Let's Dance" radio programs for the NBC radio network. The one recording date with Goodman took place on April 4, 1935 and Buddy vocalized on a great tune called "Living In A Great Big Way" on Victor #25011.

After Clark left the Goodman band he was mostly a fixture on network radio. He was a staff vocalist for the CBS network for a time, appeared as part of the regular cast on the Ben Bernie Show ("Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah") for NBC Blue Network; "Your Hit Parade" with the Lenny Hayton Orchestra for CBS in the late thirties, a program called "Melody Puzzles" in 1938 with Freda Gibson (Georgia Gibbs) and the orchestra of Harry Salter also on NBC Blue Network; and "Buddy Clark's Summer Colony" with Hildegard and the Leith Stevens Orchestra in 1939 for CBS. Clark also appeared with Wayne King and Vincent Lopez on weekend radio during the late nineteen thirties. Buddy was called on to do a voice overdub for Jack Haley in the 1937 motion picture "Wake Up And Live", and recorded with the bands of Joe Moss, Ruby Newman, Lud Gluskin, Nat Brandwynne, Bob Causer, Joe Reichman, Eddie Duchin, Xavier Cugat, Dick McDonough, and Wayne King.

In 1936 "Take My Heart" / "These Foolish Things" on Brunswick #7676 had both sides get into the top 10 sellers in the country. "Until Today" on Brunswick #7712 was a top 15 seller. Both were recorded with the orchestra of Nat Brandwynne. "The Rhythm Of The Rhumba" a vocal duet with Joe Host and the Lud Gluskin orchestra on Columbia #3013 was a top 15 charter, and two others recorded with Gluskin did well - "She Shall Have Music" a movie title song was a number three best seller, and "May I Have The Next Romance?" from the film "Head Over Heels In Love" was a top ten seller. "Spring Is Here" on Vocalion #4191, a tune from the Broadway show "I Married An Angel" was a top 20 seller in mid 1938 under his own name as a solo artist. It would be almost a decade before he re-visited the top selling records charts.

Meanwhile Buddy Clark continued to be a large presence on network radio with "Here's To Romance" with the orchestra of David Broekman on NBC Blue beginning in 1942. That year Clark had a small role in the movie musical comedy "Seven Days Leave" which starred Victor Mature and Lucille Ball. Soon Buddy did his part for Uncle Sam and the United States entering the armed forces. After his discharge at wars end he returned to network radio with a starring role on "The Contented Hour" sponsored by Carnation with Jo Stafford and the orchestras of Victor Young and then Percy Faith. Later radio appearances included "The Spike Jones Show" for CBS in 1947, and "The Chesterfield Supper Club" for NBC in 1949. Meanwhile Buddy had been signed by Columbia Records in 1947 for whom he had charted as a featured vocalist ten years before.

Columbia #37215 was recorded with the band of Ray Noble on a tune written by Jack Lawrence about a precocious little girl, the daughter of his attorney Lee Eastman (Epstein) who would some twenty years later become Mrs. Paul McCartney. The tune "Linda" (the flip side is "Love Is A Random Thing") put Buddy Clark into the forefront of pop music vocalists and the record was a huge success. It reached the number one position and remained on the pop charts for six months. The followup record was a hit tune from the Broadway show "Finnian's Rainbow" called "How Are Things In Glocca Mora?" and Clark's version of the tune on #37223 (the flip was "If This Isn't Love") got to number six and was a solid smash. Later in 1947 Buddy came right back with his vocal version of the Harmonicats hit "Peg 'O My Heart" on #37392, and it was another number one seller and a four month resident of the best seller charts. Clark was now a hot property. During 1947 Clark was called to Hollywood to dub the singing voice of Mark Stevens in the role of composer Joe Howard in the motion picture "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?".

"An Apple Blossom Wedding" on #37488 got to number 14 on the hit parade, and "Don't You Love Me Anymore" on #37920 with the Mitchell Ayres Orchestra made it into the top 25 best sellers. Returning to the recording studio with the Ray Noble band, Clark performed "I'll Dance At Your Wedding" and "These Things Money can't Buy" for Columbia #37967. Both sides hit the best seller lists with "Money" a top 20 seller, but "Dance" was a huge hit remaining for four months on the charts and getting to number three. The Buddy Clark juggernaut of 1947 rolled on. In January of 1948, Clark had three records on the charts - "You Are Never Away" from the Broadway musical "Allegro" was a top 30 seller, the Buddy Clark version of Vaughn Monroe's hit of "Ballerina" did quite well on its own reaching the number five position, and finally for the month the movie tune "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" got into the top 25.

By the spring of 1948 it was apparent that Buddy Clark was the hottest pop vocalist around and was being mentioned along with Crosby and Sinatra. "Matinee" on #38083 and "Serenade" with Ray Noble on #38091 both were top 25 sellers. "Now Is The Hour" which was a huge hit for both Gracie Fields from England and Bing Crosby, was recorded with The Charioteers on #38115 and did very well and despite the other more well known versions, got to number six on the best sellers list. In spring Buddy recorded a duet with rising star Doris Day on Columbia #38174 - "Love Somebody" and "Confess". The result was a huge two sided hit that further proved the dominance of Buddy Clark on the pop charts. "Confess" was a three month mainstay on the charts and got to the 15 position while "Love Somebody" was a huge success that got to the top position and remained there for five weeks while spending six months on the best sellers. There were two more chart appearances for Buddy during 1948 - "Where The Apple Blossoms Fall" on #38241, a top 25 seller, and finally "My Darling My Darling" again with Doris Day from the Broadway musical "Where's Charley?" which got to the number seven slot in sales nationally. Buddy Clark was also heard as the Master of Ceremonies in the film "Melody Time" a mostly animated Walt Disney film (live scenes with Roy Rogers and Trigger) released in 1948.

In 1949 Clark opened the year with "Powder Your Face With Sunshine" again a duet with Doris Day on #38394 a top 15 seller and two more that were top 25 tunes - "I Love You So Much It Hurts" with Earl Hagen's band on #38406 and "It's A Big Wide Wonderful World" from the Broadway show "All In Fun" with Mitchell Ayres on #38370. In the spring of 1949 Clark recorded another duet, this time with Dinah Shore on the tune "Baby It's Cold Outside" from the film "Neptunes Daughter" on #38463. It was another huge hit remaining a top seller for five months and topping out at number four on the national charts. This was followed by another top five seller and a long time hit parade mainstay "You're Breaking My Heart" with the orchestra of Harry Zimmerman on #38546. In the fall "A Dreamer's Holiday" was recorded with Ted Dale's orchestra on #38599, and it was another big seller for Clark and Columbia Records that went to number 12 on the charts.

On October 2, 1949, one of the great tragedies in American pop music took place as a private plane in which Buddy Clark was a passenger returning from a college football game crashed during an emergency landing on Beverly Boulevard. Clark survived the initial crash but died hours later in a hospital from his injuries, the only one on the plane to have perished. And so one of the great stars of the post war years had lost his life. In those short two and a half years, Clark had placed twenty three records on the best seller lists, ten of which cracked the top ten, and three of which were number one records. An unexpected and tragic death had robbed America of one of its most talented and enduring singing stars.

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