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Peggy Lee's Bio-Discography:
The Summer Electric Hour
(On The Radio, Part II)

by Iván Santiago-Mercado

Page generated on May 26, 2020




The Summer Electric Hour

During the 1940s and 1950s, Peggy Lee's voice was frequently heard over the airwaves. She guest-starred in a wide variety of radio programming, most of it naturally falling within the musical variety genre -- from network shows such as Songs By Sinatra, Kraft Music Hall Starring Al Jolson, and The Ford Show With Dinah Shore to various original series created by the American Forces, including the well-known Jubilee, Command Performance, Let's Go To Town, and Guest Star shows. Lee also served as the girl singer on two programs hosted by very popular radio personalities (Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante), and she herself (co-)hosted at least four radio series. The first two of those hosting gigs took place in the summer of 1947, and both would be more accurately described as co-hosting jobs. One of them, Rhapsody In Rhythm, receives attention in another discographical page; this page concentrates on the second gig.

The Electric Hour aired on the CBS radio network from 1944 to 1946, with operetta singer and actor Nelson Eddy as co-hosts. The Summer Electric Hour was, as indicated by its name, the summer edition of The Electric Hour. It aired from July through late August or early September of 1945, 1946, and 1947. For the first two summers, the producers and sponsors remained true to the 'operatic' slant of the main show: those hired as summer hosts were also sopranos and light tenors or baritones (1945: Felix Knight and Francia White; 1946: Bob Stanney and Anne Jamison).

The start of each episode identified the program's sponsor(s) as "America's business-managed electric power companies." An informative note about the advertiser's self-promotional efforts was offered by Billboard in its September 20, 1947 issue: "approximately 100 electric light and power industries have been plugging Americanisms for several years now via radio, magazines and farm papers. Narrowing down the American way story to their own efforts, the utilities do a convincing job of getting across the contention that in the United States, with electric light and power companies owned and operated by individual business men, power rates have remained extremely low despite the zooming of many other staples. In 1946 the group spent better than $500,000 in radio, about $410,000 in magazines, and just short of an additional $100,000 going into farm papers, Peak radio appropriation was in 1944, when they put some $650,000 into air advertising, as against $300,000 into magazines, with no farm paper budget at all." This note was sandwiched amidst reviews of that fall season's new radio shows. (For promotion generated by the electric companies' conglomerate, consult notes under session dated July 27, 1947.)





By 1947, the main show (i.e., The Electric Hour) had ceased to air, but its summer edition carried on for a third and final installment. Also ongoing was another long-in-existence show sponsored by General Electric, The Hour Of Charm (aka The General Electric Hour of Charm), with Phil Spitalny and The All-Girl Orchestra, which CBS had aired on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. Eastern Time) during the 1946-1947 season. The show went on a season hiatus from July 13 to August 31, 1947, when its slot was taken over by The Summer Electric Hour.

Shying away from the previous formula, and courting a younger audience, the producers did not hire opera or operetta singers this third time around. Contracts went instead to two artists from the field of popular music: singer-songwriter Peggy Lee and singing clarinetist Woody Herman. Dave Barbour And His Orchestra also received top billing. ("Starring Peggy Lee, Woody Herman, with Dave Barbour And His Orchestra, and today's guest," the program's announcer would let us at the beginning of the episodes.) Magazines from the period mention the other musicians that are listed under the broadcast to be discussed below, and add that Woody Herman occasionally played clarinet as well, "just to liven things up." Richard Dunn served as director and Martin Gosch as scriptwriter for the 30-minute program.

Of the resulting episodes (at least 8 by my count, but 13 according to one music magazine's informal, preliminary announcement), two are known to be extant almost in their entirety. Songs from the other six episodes have survived as well. 14 Peggy Lee performances have been preserved. Besides those 14 extant renditions, two additional vocals are listed below, under August 3, 1947, but those are not known to have survived. (Since I have not been able to locate logs for this show, I have no data about any vocals other than those 16, and a few additional ones featuring either a guest or Woody Herman, sans Peggy Lee. Taking into consideration that the songstress sang four numbers in the only complete show itemized below, Lee's total amount of vocal performances on this series might surpass the 30 mark.)




Photos

CBS clearly commissioned a healthy amount of publicity shots to promote its 1947 edition of The Summer Electric Hour. Nine of them are featured in this introductory section, and several others can be found throughout this page. Online, the dates most frequently claimed for most of them are May the first, 1947, and July first, 1947. The second above was selected by the magazine Radio Life as the front cover of its July 13, 1947 issue.



Date: July 13, 1947
Location: Studio B, Columbia Square Playhouse, 6121 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California

Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Dave Barbour (g), Woody Herman, Peggy Lee (v)





Source And Data

According to radio engineer J. David Goldin, the season's debut episode is extant almost in its entirety. Only five of its thirty minutes are missing, adds Goldin. Actress Diana Lynn served as guest. Songs and all other details remain unknown to me. (Also unknown to me: most details about the episode which followed, on July 20, 1947. One known detail: Donald O'Connor was scheduled as its guest.)


Photos

Peggy Lee with Woody Herman. The first photo captures them at the play-off of the Pacific Coast Hockey League finals, where the pair was on hand to award the championship trophy to the Los Angeles Monarchs. Taken in April of 1947, this photo predates The Summer Electric Hour, but still falls within its confines: by that month, both artists had already signed to co-host the program. According to Variety, the contractual deal had been "set" on March 18. Their appearance at this sports event thus served as promotion for the then-upcoming radio show.

Undated, the other photograph captures Herman and Lee in co-hosting action at The Summer Electric Hour, during either a rehearsal or an actual recording/broadcast. Partially seen in the background are an unidentified bassist and a guitarist -- most likely, Dave Barbour. We also catch glimpses of a piano (with its own mike) onstage and, dimly visible at a distance, two presumed audience members, one watching intently and the other walking by.


Date: July 27, 1947
Location: Studio B, Columbia Square Playhouse, 6121 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California

Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Unknown (d), Woody Herman (v, spk), Peggy Lee (v)

a. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) The Lady From 29 Palms - 2:19(Allie Wrubel)
Artistic CS/LP(United Kingdom) Cart/Art 005 — Easy Listening    (1984)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain LP(Italy) Dvlp 2025 [Reissued 1989] — [Woody Herman] The Woody Herman Collection ("20 Golden Greats" Series)   (1985)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Radiola/Sandy Hook Collectors' Label CS/LPCsh/Sh 2109 — Peggy Lee On Radio   (1987)
Magic/Submarine Collectors' Label CD(United Kingdom) Dawe 102 — Why Don't You Do Right?; 1943-1947   (2001)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 3280 2 — Peggy Lee, Volume 2   (2004)
b. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) I Can't Give You Anything But Love - 3:27(Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh, possibly Andy Razaf, possibly Thomas 'Fats' Waller)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain LP(Italy) Dvlp 2025 [Reissued 1989] — [Woody Herman] The Woody Herman Collection ("20 Golden Greats" Series)   (1985)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Direct Source Licensed CS/CD(Canada) 14652 — Peggy Lee ("Star Power" Series)   (2001)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 3279 — Peggy Lee, Volume 1   (2004)
Weton-Wesgram's Forever Gold Public Domain CD(Netherlands) Fg 262 — Peggy Lee    (2007)
[unknown label] CDunknown — Blonde Ambitions {Peggy Lee, Marilyn Monroe}   
c. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Ask Anyone Who Knows - 4:02(Alvin Kaufman, Sol Marcus, Eddie Seiler)
Direct Source Licensed CS/CD(Canada) 14652 — Peggy Lee ("Star Power" Series)   (2001)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 3279 — Peggy Lee, Volume 1   (2004)
Weton-Wesgram's Forever Gold Public Domain CD(Netherlands) Fg 262 — Peggy Lee    (2007)
[unknown label] CDunknown — Blonde Ambitions {Peggy Lee, Marilyn Monroe}   
d. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Cecilia - 3:03(Dave Dreyer, Herman Ruby)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 3279 — Peggy Lee, Volume 1   (2004)
All titles on: Jazz Band/Flyright Collectors' Label CD(United Kingdom) Ebdcd 2115 2 — LIVE, 1947 & 1952   (1993)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 34572 — Peggy Lee, Volumes 1 & 2 [Volumes also sold separately]   (2005)





Personnel

1. Woody Herman
"The Lady From 29 Palms" and "Cecilia" are vocal duets, both of them featuring Peggy Lee with Woody Herman. Sung by Peggy Lee only, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" is preceded by a spoken introduction from Herman.

2. Guest
Pianist Andre Previn was the episode's guest. For his solo spot, he played "Back Home Again In Indiana."


Issues

1. The Woody Herman Collection; 20 Golden Greats [LP]
This 20-track compilation erroneously lists "Four Brothers" as its last track. Instead of "Four Brothers," the 20th track is this date's rendition of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," sung by Peggy Lee solo, after a spoken introduction from Woody Herman.


Photos

In this row of pictures, we are treated to one extra electric ad and two very musicianly shots. From a periodical issued in the summer of 1947, the advertisement describes itself as "published by the business-managed, tax-paying Electric Light And Power Companies - because it is to your benefit to know the value of your electric service, and to ours to have you know it." The four so-called "small things of great value" are diamonds (valuable to "a woman's eye" but coming at a cost of at least $900 per carat), a child (valuable and costly to parents, though Uncle Sam was allowing them to annually claim a $500 income tax exemption, on behalf of the child's "board and keep"), radium (valuable to doctors but demanding an astronomical cost of $700,000 per ounce) and, of course, electricity (which not only "saves you time, work, money" but also "lights, heats, cleans and entertains" at a mere cost of "a few cents a day!") ...

The other two above-seen shots present to us the three big and valuable leads of Electric Summer Hour, each one next to the instrument that he or she was known to play. In Peggy Lee's case, she is seen handling multiple instruments: not only the microphone but also a drum kit. Although the singer was probably striking poses for these particular photos, she is known to have professionally played percussion at least once -- and at a recording date, no less. (The Capitol session in question took place on October 13, 1947, and featured various artists, all of them having fun playing instruments different that the one for which they were known.) Lee also had a basic, non-trained understanding of piano playing, which she often put to use during her labors as a prolific songwriter.


Date: August 3, 1947
Location: Studio B, Columbia Square Playhouse, 6121 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California

Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Unknown (d), Woody Herman, Peggy Lee (v)

a. Not Extant?Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) Just An Old Love Of Mine(Peggy Lee, Dave Barbour)
b. Not Extant?Peggy Lee Shows (CBS) The Lady From 29 Palms(Allie Wrubel)
Both titles unissued.





Sources

1. Availability
My only source for this particular episode was a newspaper clip, dating from the same period as the broadcast. If the episode is extant, I have yet to come upon any hints. Note also that the newspaper probably listed just a few of the show's performances; Lee is likely to have sung more numbers.


Personnel

1. Woody Herman
"The Lady From 29 Palms" is a vocal duet, featuring Woody Herman with Peggy Lee. Furthermore, it might have been billed as an audience request; the pair had sung the number in the previous episode.

2. Guest
Deemed a rising comedy star back then, Jack Paar guested on this August 3 installment of the show.





Performances

1. Songs By Other Performers
During this episode, Woody Herman did a solo version of "Am I Blue?"


Photos

Shots of Dave Barbour, Woody Herman, and Peggy Lee, alternately rehearsing and posing for the camera. Note the background presence of both a sitting audience and standing personnel. In the middle photo, Lee, Barbour, and Herman are in the company of producer/director Richard "Dick Dunn. The four of them appear to be having a table discussion about the script.

Presumably taken at the Columbia Square Playhouse, prints of these photos can be found on the web with a July 29, 1947 dating claim, for which I cannot vouch. It is worth pointing out that the 29th was a Tuesday. Since the show was broadcast on Sundays, that Tuesday fell between the episodes that aired on July 27 and August 3, 1947. I do not know if the episodes of The Electric Summer Hour were recorded in advance of their broadcast date. (However, it is my belief that the more common practice for Old-Time-Radio variety programming was to rehearse on the same day on which the episode was set to be broadcast and/or recorded.)


Date: Between July 13 And August 31, 1947 (Except July 20)
Location: Studio B, Columbia Square Playhouse, 6121 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California

Dave Barbour And His Orchestra (acc), Henry J. "Heinie" Beau (cl), Dave Barbour (g), Phil Stephens (b), Edwin "Buddy" Cole (p), Unknown (d), Woody Herman, Peggy Lee (v)

a. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Somebody Loves Me - 3:30(Buddy G. DeSylva, George Gershwin, Ballard MacDonald)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Audio Fidelity Collectors' Label cassetteGas 789 — Peggy Lee   (1986)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/CD(Italy/United Kingdom) Dvremc/Dvrecd 57 — The Peggy Lee Story; 24 Phonographic Memories    (1991)
b. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) As Long As I'm Dreaming - 3:05(Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Audio Fidelity Collectors' Label cassetteGas 789 — Peggy Lee   (1986)
President Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Plcd 550 — Listen To The Magic    (1996)
c. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along - 3:25(Harry Woods)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain LP(Italy) Dvlp 2025 [Reissued 1989] — [Woody Herman] The Woody Herman Collection ("20 Golden Greats" Series)   (1985)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Audio Fidelity Collectors' Label cassetteGas 789 — Peggy Lee   (1986)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 3280 2 — Peggy Lee, Volume 2   (2004)
Prism Leisure Platinum Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) 34572 — Peggy Lee, Volumes 1 & 2 [Volumes also sold separately]   (2005)
d. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Ain'tcha Ever Comin' Back? - 2:29(Axel Stordahl, Irving Taylor, Paul Weston)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Audio Fidelity Collectors' Label cassetteGas 789 — Peggy Lee   (1986)
President Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Plcd 550 — Listen To The Magic    (1996)
e. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) It Takes A Long, Long Train With A Red Caboose - 3:20(Dick Charles, Lawrence W. Markes, Jr.)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Hughes Leisure Group Public Domain CD(Australia/New Zealand) Stb 8849 — Peggy Lee ("20 Golden Greats / Starburst" Series)    (1994)
President Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Plcd 550 — Listen To The Magic    (1996)
f. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) I Don't Know Enough About You - 2:33(Dave Barbour, Peggy Lee)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/CD(Italy/United Kingdom) Dvremc/Dvrecd 57 — The Peggy Lee Story; 24 Phonographic Memories    (1991)
President Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Plcd 550 — Listen To The Magic    (1996)
g. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) (You And I) Passing By - 1:55(Laurent Hess, Jack Lawrence, Charles Trenet)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
President Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Plcd 550 — Listen To The Magic    (1996)
h. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) On The Sunny Side Of The Street - 2:21(Dorothy Fields, Jimmy McHugh, possibly Andy Razaf, possibly Thomas 'Fats' Waller)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain LP(Italy) Dvlp 2025 [Reissued 1989] — [Woody Herman] The Woody Herman Collection ("20 Golden Greats" Series)   (1985)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Audio Fidelity Collectors' Label cassetteGas 789 — Peggy Lee   (1986)
i. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) It's A Good Day - 2:38(Dave Barbour, Peggy Lee)
President Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Plcd 550 — Listen To The Magic    (1996)
Signature Public Domain CD(United Kingdom) Signcd 2132 — Peggy Lee ("Idols" Box)   (2002)
Tgg Direct Public Domain CD011891 60252 5 — Best Of Peggy Lee   (2011)
j. ExtantPeggy Lee Shows (CBS) Lazy River - 2:21(Sidney Arodin, Hoagy Carmichael)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain LP(Italy) Dvlp 2025 [Reissued 1989] — [Woody Herman] The Woody Herman Collection ("20 Golden Greats" Series)   (1985)
Deja Vu/Retro Public Domain CS/LP(Italy) Dvmc/Dvlp 2021 — The Peggy Lee Collection; 20 Golden Greats   (1985)
Audio Fidelity Collectors' Label cassetteGas 789 — Peggy Lee   (1986)
All titles on: Artistic CS/LP(United Kingdom) Cart/Art 005 — Easy Listening    (1984)
Radiola/Sandy Hook Collectors' Label CS/LPCsh/Sh 2109 — Peggy Lee On Radio   (1987)
Magic/Submarine Collectors' Label CD(United Kingdom) Dawe 102 — Why Don't You Do Right?; 1943-1947   (2001)





Personnel

1. Woody Herman
Peggy Lee duets with Woody Herman on "When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along," "On The Sunny Side Of The Street," and "Up A Lazy River."

2. Guests
Each episode of The Summer Electric Hour featured a guest. Comedian Eddie Bracken is known to have guested on one of the episodes. Diane Lynn, Jack Paar, and Andre Previn have already been mentioned. The identities of the summer's other four guests remain unknown to me.

3. Numbers By Other Acts
Also from these same episodes, two non-Lee performances have been commercially released: "Pancho Maximillian Hernandez" (sung by Woody Herman) and "Go Away!" (comedy routine by Eddie Bracken, with some interjections from Herman and Lee).





Performances And Issues

1. "I Don't Know Enough About You"
Peggy Lee discographer Ron Towe contended that the above-listed version of "I Don't Know Enough About You" was the exact same one which is identified in the Fonit Cetra LP Le Voci Indimenticabili, Volume 1 as originating in a V-Disc. "Not only is the verse, heard on no other known recording of the song, intact," Towe asserts, "Peggy's vocal performance, the instrumental arrangement behind her, the guitar figures and riffs, are exactly the same from beginning to end." I will be evaluating the validity of Towe's claim when I work on completing this discography's page for War And Government Shows. (As can already be seen in that unfinished page, one major difference between this session's version and the V-Disc version is the credited accompaniment: the Les Paul Trio on the V-Disc, Dave Barbour And His Orchestra herein.)


Photos

Of the six pictures featured under this session, the first two accompanied an aforementioned article, published on the July 13, 1947 issue of Radio Life magazine. The caption under the first photo alerts us to the following: "Employees only says the sign that blocks this corridor at CBS from trespassing by spectators. Here three famous employees, Woody Herman, Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour, stroll toward rehearsal." The text under the second photo describes the scene in view as follows: "Woody, Peggy and Dave make plans for their appearance on the summer Electric Hour under the row of star portraits at CBS. Scheduled to join that row of stars -- Woody, Peggy and Dave." If the text of those captions is to be trusted, the artists were being photographed on their first day of rehearsal -- or, at least, one of the earliest rehearsal days. Below, the photo of Lee and Herman is from that same day, while the others from above and below are additional publicity shots, date unknown to me. (Online, two dates have been claimed for them: May 1 and May 6, 1947.)





Sessions Reported: 3

Performances Reported: 16

Unique Songs Reported: 15

Unique Issues Reported: 40