The Dream Peddler : Snooky Lanson©2008JCMarion


Snooky Lanson was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in March of 1914. He was born as Roy Landman and was given the nickname of "Snooky" from the old Irving Berlin refrain "Snooky-Ookums". He began his life long love of music as a church choir singer at an early age. By the time he was twenty he had moved to Nashville and began as a vocalist on local radio. For a short time in 1939 he was a vocalist with the Nashville based orchestra of Francis Craig (Craig would go on to great popularity in the late forties with singer Bob Lamm) .

In 1941 now known as Snooky Lanson, he joined the orchestra of Ray Noble, the latest in a line of fine vocalists such as Al Bowlly and Tony Martin with that band. Lanson made a number of recordings with the Noble band for Columbia Records. Some of these were "Harbor Of Dreams" / "If It's You" on # 36271, "While My Lady Sleeps" and a hit version of the song "By The Light Of The Silv'ry Moon" which was a top seller across the country for two months in early 1942 (Columbia # 36479). Snooky Lanson then entered military service, and while in uniform did appearances with the band of Ted Weems.

After his discharge from military service Lanson returned to the Ray Noble band and recorded "Full Moon And Empty Arms" an interesting song based on a piano concerto by Rachmaninoff which charted briefly, and "It Might As Well Be Spring" on # 36893 in 1946. Lanson also did the vocals on "My Heart Is A Hobo" / "You'll Know When It Happens" on # 37544, and had a hit recording with his version of the old standard "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?" with The Sportsmen Quartet (famous for their appearances with the Jack Benny radio show) on Columbia # 37544. The record got as high as number eleven in the country in national sales. "April Showers" spurred by renewed interest in Al Jolson was the flip side. Lanson made one lasr record with Noble, his vocal version of the band's theme song "Goodnight Sweetheart" on # 38146. Lanson then left the band to perform as a solo and was replaced by Buddy Clark.

Snooky made one record with Toots Camarata for Decca - "Jambalaya" / "Mademoiselle" on # 28367, and then moved to Mercury Records sometime in 1947. He recorded "You Are Too Dangerous" and "Why Does It have To Rain On Sunday" on Mercury # 5082, which was followed by "You Can't Make Money Dreaming" and "Pianissimo" with George Siravo on # 5089. Lanson recorded with Owen Bradley "Dream Girl" and a cover of a hit by his old band leader Francis Craig on "Beg Your Pardon released by Mercury on # 5109. "The Dream Peddlar" and "What Do I Have To Do?" with Owen Bradley on the 'A' side, and George Barnes Quartet on the other on # 5124 was next and then "One For My Baby" and "The Flower Seller" in the spring of 1948 on # 5141. Continuing his records for Mercury in 1948 were "Long After Tonight" / "Hearts Win You Lose" on # 5150, "When The Apple Blossoms Fall" / "You Darling" on # 5156, "Georgia On My Mind" and "Down Among The Sheltering Palms" on # 5181, and "Rendezvous With A Rose" and "Play The Player" on # 5188. Late in the year Snooky Lanson finally hit the pop charts with his version of one of the big songs of the post war forties - "On A Slow Boat To China". The record was a top twenty five seller across the country ("Melancholy Minstrel" was the flip side), and Lanson was finally getting some name recognition. However the success did not carry over, and the following Mercury records did not sell - "Too Late To Be Sorry" / "No Moon At All on # 5195, and a re-release of a recording he made with Ted Weems, "Love Me Or Leave Me" on # 5305 in 1949.

Getting a change in recording scenery late that year, Snooky Lanson was now with London Records. A vocal recorded with the orchestra of Beasley Smith of "The Old Master Painter" on # 555 became a huge national hit across the country getting well into the top ten sellers and remaining on the charts for three months ("Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?" was on the other side). The great appeal of this record was a major factor in the hiring of Lanson to the television version of "Your Hit Parade". Other London recordings were "Lies" / "God's Country" on # 565, and "Roses" and "Where Are You Going To Be?" on # 682. Using the U.K. numbering system, other Lanson recordings for the label were "You You Wonderful You" / "Honestly I Love You" on # 30186, "Beloved Be Faithful" on # 30192, "For Instance" on # 45984, and "How Near To My Heart" / "Rosie" on # 45893. In 1950 Snooky Lanson joined the singing cast of "Your Hit Parade" and became a household name throughout the country.

In 1953 Lanson recorded some cover versions of hit songs for the low priced Bell label (a unique seven inch 78 rpm product). Bell # 1008 contained "Crying In The Chapel" (Orioles and June Valli) and "You You You" (Ames Brothers), and "Istanbul" (Four Lads) and "Ricochet" (Teresa Brewer) on Bell # 1016. In early 1955 Lanson did some R & B covers on an interesting release for Camden, a RCA budget label. Among the songs were "Earth Angel", "Sincerely", and "Tweedle Dee" on Camden # 263. In the mid nineteen fifties Lanson moved over to the "king of the covers" Dot Records which was headquartered just outside of Nashville. He recorded "Last Minute Love" and "Why Don't You Write Me?" (originally by The Jacks) on Dot # 15385, "It's Almost Tomorrow" and "Let Me Off This Bus" on # 15424, "Tippity Top" and "Seven Days" (originally by Clyde McPhatter) on # 15445, "Walk Right In" on # 15455, "After School" / "I'm Tired Of Everything But You" on # 15475, and "Now That You're In My Arms" on # 15513.

"Your Hit Parade" by 1957 was encountering problems keeping relevant with the current music tastes of the young who were now the principal consumers of music in the country. The show tried a completely new cast but that made little difference in the appeal of the show which had obviously run its course. Snooky Lanson was soon forgotten as new stars emerged and got the attention of the musical taste makers into the nineteen sixties. Lanson however , did some local appearances, and soon was back in the recording studio, this time with area label Starday Records and he was now a country music performer. Among his late sixties recordings for the label were "Woman Gone Bad" / "Take Your Time" on Starday # 829, "Wall Of Memories" / "It Ain't Easy" on # 845, "Ever Present Past" / "Every Night Is A Lifetime" on # 855, and "Anytime" and "What Can I Do With Your Memories" on # 862. Lanson had time to host television variety shows in Shreveport, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia. He finally headed back to Nashville and had a local radio program for a while and then exited the music business for good working in the automobile field. Snooky Lanson passed away in July of 1990 leaving his wife and three children and grandchildren. He remains a grand symbol of the golden age of American popular music, and one of its formost performers.

Unfortunately there are no cds available by Snooky Lanson detailing his musical efforts. There are a few compilation albums that feature Lanson on one or two songs including rare duets with Teresa Brewer. Thus far this is the only results of his recorded legacy of music, and that truly is a shame.

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