Allan DeWitt

Photo of Allan DeWitt

History best re­mem­bers singer Allan DeWitt as the vo­cal­ist Tommy Dorsey let go so that he could hire Frank Sinatra. DeWitt, a pro­tege of Andrews Sisters man­ager Lou Levy, sang and recorded with Tiny Hill’s or­ches­tra in mid-1939 be­fore re­plac­ing Jack Leonard in Dorsey’s out­fit that November af­ter Leonard and Dorsey had split on un­am­i­ca­ble terms. Dorsey was­n’t happy with DeWitt, how­ever, and when he learned that he could tempt Sinatra away from Harry James in January 1940, DeWitt was quickly gone. Though he spent less than two months with Dorsey, DeWitt recorded with the band.

After leav­ing Dorsey, ru­mors had DeWitt join­ing Bob Chester. He was with Jan Savitt in July, though, for whom he also recorded. He re­mained with Savitt un­til at least October 1941. Beyond that, DeWitt dis­ap­peared suf­fi­ciently enough that Down Beat mag­a­zine posted his name in their Where Is?” col­umn, twice, in November 1942 and March 1944, seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on him. After his time with Savitt, he ap­pears to have set­tled in Chicago, where he re­mained for the rest of the decade. He resur­faces there in early 1944, singing with Jimmy Jackson’s or­ches­tra. By June he was with Wayne King, only to be drafted shortly there­after. DeWitt served in the Army, where he was sta­tioned at Camp Lee, Virginia, in September.

DeWitt again dis­ap­peared long enough for Down Beat to ask where he was in 1948. The an­swer was lead­ing his own band in the Midwest. In 1949, he both recorded with that group and later as vo­cal­ist with Frankie Master’s or­ches­tra on the small Chicago-based in­die la­bel Barthel.

In 1940, DeWitt had a loyal fan among the pris­on­ers at Pontiac Reformatory in Illinois. This par­tic­u­lar pris­oner used two of his al­lot­ted four let­ters a month to write to the singer. In one let­ter, the pris­oner lamented that his Down Beat sub­scrip­tion had ex­pired, and DeWitt promptly re­newed it for him.

Music

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  • Careless
    Tommy Dorsey (Allan DeWitt), Victor (1939)
  • I've Got My Eyes on You
    Tommy Dorsey (Allan DeWitt), Victor (1939)
  • Angel
    Tommy Dorsey (Allan DeWitt), Victor (1939)
  • A Weekend in Havana
    Jan Savitt (Allan DeWitt), Victor (1941)
  • It's So Peaceful in the Country
    Jan Savitt (Allan DeWitt), Victor (1941)
  • Tattle-Tale
    Jan Savitt (Allan DeWitt), Victor (1941)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.

Sources

  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. The Online Discographical Project. Accessed 17 Jul. 2016.
  3. “The Reviewing Stand: Tiny Hill.” Billboard 1 Apr. 1939: 11.
  4. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 18 Nov. 1939: 10.
  5. “Tom Dorsey Gets Frank Sinatra.” Down Beat 1 Feb. 1940: 5.
  6. “Allan DeWitt.” Down Beat 1 Feb. 1940: 20.
  7. Jovien, Harold. “Call It Even.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1940: 4.
  8. “Phila Houses Beat Strong Competish.” Billboard 11 Oct. 1941: 24.
  9. “On the Records.” Billboard 31 Jan. 1942: 37.
  10. “Where Is?” Down Beat 1 Nov. 1942: 18.
  11. “Where Is?” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1944: 10.
  12. “Chicago Band Briefs.” Down Beat 15 Feb. 1945: 4.
  13. “Chicago Band Briefs.” Down Beat 15 Jun. 1945: 4.
  14. “Chicago Band Briefs.” Down Beat 1 Jul. 1945: 4.
  15. “Chicago Band Briefs.” Down Beat 1 Sep. 1945: 4.
  16. “Night Club Reviews: Marine Dining Room, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Chicago.” Billboard 16 Jun. 1945: 30.
  17. “Music As Written.” Billboard 14 Jul. 1945: 17.
  18. “Where Is?” Down Beat 24 Mar. 1948: 10.
  19. “Music As Written.” Billboard 10 Sep. 1949: 42.
  20. “Music As Written.” Billboard 17 Dec. 1949: 39.