Band Of Gold : Don Cherry©JMarion 2008


Don Cherry was born in January of 1924 in Wichita Falls, Texas. By his high school years Don had developed two talents - singing and golf. After serving in the military during the Second World War he resumed following his two vocations.

Don Cherry honed his baritone voice for the pop music field in the late nineteen forties, and was rewarded by a recording contract for Decca Records in 1950. He served a short stint with the orchestra of Jan Garber (known as the "Idol of the Airlanes"). His first hit recording for the label was an (at first) uncredited vocal with Victor Young and his orchestra of the song "Mona Lisa" ( on Decca # 27048) from the motion picture "Captain Carey, U.S.A." It did quite well trailing only Nat Cole's version of the song. Following this effort in September of 1950 was was "Here In My Arms" and "Thinking Of You" on # 27128. "Thinking Of You" recorded with the orchestra of Dave Terry became a good sized national hit. It remained a best seller for five months and rose as high as the number four record in the country. "The Seven Wonders Of The World" and "When You Return" was released on # 27435. This was followed by "I Apologize" (covering the hit by Billy Eckstine) and "Bring Back The Thrill " on # 27484. Decca next released "Vanity" and "Powder Blue" on # 27618. Backed up by the band of Sy Oliver, "Vanity" was a three month best seller making the national top ten.

"I Can See You" / "My Life's Desire" on Decca # 27626 was followed by another national chart hit, Cherry's version of "Bell Bell My Liberty Bell" (a big hit for Guy Mitchell) which was a top twenty five seller on # 27717. Other Decca sides followed - "I Can't Help It" / "Grieving" on # 27836, "My Sentimental Heart" / "I'll Sing To You" on # 27944, "How Long" / "The Second Star To The Right" (from Disney's "Peter Pan") on # 28477, "Take Me Back" / "Neither Am I" with Sy Oliver on # 27904, and "Changeable" and "A Lover's Quarrel" on # 28548. While all this vocalizing was going on Cherry did not abandon his golf game. He was a two time member of the United States Walker Cup team during the mid nineteen fifties.

By late 1955 Don Cherry had moved from Decca to Columbia Records. "There's A Place Called Heaven" and "14 kt. Gold" on Columbia # 40558 did not do well. However in December Columbia released "Band Of Gold" and "Rumble Boogie" on # 40597. "Band" was a ballad with an arrangement and a sound that was designed to capture young listeners just discovering the musical juggernaut that was rock 'n roll. It was a huge success becoming a five month mainstay on the pop charts and a top three seller across the country. It was covered by pop singer Kit Carson, and earned a place in history by being included as part of Buchanan & Goodman's groundbreaking record of "The Flying Saucer" on Luniverse Records. Cherry was now certainly a proven hit maker and made the successful passage into the rock era. Two more hits for Columbia followed in 1956 - "Wild Cherry", a nice play on his name which was a top thirty chart record (on # 40665 - with "I'm Still A King To You" on the flip side), and "Ghost Town" on # 40705 (I'll Be Around" on the other side) which did even better. Another Columbia side was "Namely You" (from the Broadway show "Lil Abner") and "If I Had My Druthers".

By the late nineteen fifties Don Cherry decided to give professional golf his full time attention, and so was absent from the performing scene for a while. Soon enough though he was back to performing moving to Monument Records and changing his style to a more country oriented sound. He also became a fixture in Las Vegas and held down the summer replacement spot for Dean Martin. He was featured on the vocal for the theme song in the motion picture "Will Penny". Some Monument recordings - "I'll Catch The Sun" / "Ain't You Glad You're Living Joe" both written by Rod McCuen on # 1156, "Lilacs In Winter" / "Look For Me" on #1185, "Between Winston Salem And Nashville" and "Blue Lake" on # 1201, "Is It Any Wonder That I Love You" / "You Almost Slipped My Mind" on # 8542, and "When You Leave Amarillo" / "Cajun Fiddler" on # 8578. He also recorded a credible version of the Everly Brothers "Take A Message To Mary".

There is a cd called "The Best of Columbia and Monument Sides" for Collector's Choice from 1999. For other vocal collections Don Cherry himself has his own web site which features many of his recordings, some of them live performances. This great vocalist from the Interlude Era (not to be confused with the Don Cherry that is a modern trumpet player that came to fame with Ornette Coleman, OR the Don Cherry that is an ice hockey historian and commentator) but this veteran of more than a half century of providing top notch pop singing, remains one of the great voices in American musical history-and is still a decent golfer !

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