BillyUsher

Billy Usher

Omaha native Billy Usher, born in either 1921 or 1922, sang with a variety of bands during the 1940s, including George “Pee Wee” Erwin’s outfit in early 1942 and Shep Fields’ orchestra in early 1943. After spending time as a solo artist in mid-1943, he joined Sonny Dunham’s band but was solo again by mid-1944. At some point he also apparently sang for Harry James.

In February 1945, Usher joined Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra as one of two male vocalists competing for a permanent spot in the band. The other was Frankie Lester. Dorsey was having trouble finding reliable boy singers at that time, and he put both men in front of the mike. Usher was gone in late February, signing with the NBC Blue Network to replace Tommy Taylor in the program On the Sunny Side of the Street in March.

After leaving Dorsey, Usher also appeared as an uncredited talent show winner in the Universal Pictures musical On Stage Everybody. Publicity for the film touted him as one of ten winners of a nationwide contest, though in reality all were established show business talents. Each winner was shown in publicity photos receiving a movie contract.

By June 1945, before On Stage Everybody had reached the theaters, Usher had joined Randy Brooks’ orchestra, appearing in the band’s self-title musical short for Columbia. Usher remained with Brooks into early 1946. In May 1947, he sang with Charlie Barnet.

In early September 1945, Usher’s wife apparently was attacked by a “crazed veteran” who “tried to kill her,” according to gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen. She “narrowly escaped with her life.”

Music

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  • ”There’s No You”
    Tommy Dorsey (Billy Usher), RCA Victor (1945)
  • Any Old Time (I'm Feeling Blue)
    Tommy Dorsey (Billy Usher), RCA Victor (1945)

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

Radio

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  • One Night Stand: Sonny Dunham
    April 14, 1944 (AFRS) 29:10
  • Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands: Tommy Dorsey
    February 12, 1945 (AFRS) 14:29

Sources

  1. The Online Discographical Project. Accessed 2 Feb. 2018.
  2. “Billy Usher.” IMDb. Accessed 2 Feb. 2018.
  3. “On the Stand: George (Pee-Wee) Erwin” Billboard 14 Feb. 1942: 22.
  4. “On the Air: Shep Fields” Billboard 9 Jan. 1943: 26.
  5. “Help Wanted ---- Male” Billboard 10 Jul. 1943: 15.
  6. Stevenson, L.L. “Lights of New York” Bluefield Daily Telegraph [Bluefield, West Virginia] 23 Jul. 1943: 4.
  7. “Sonny Dunham.” One Night Stand. AFRS, 14 Apr. 1944.
  8. “In Short” Billboard 15 Jul. 1944: 29.
  9. “T.D. Male Voice Still Unsettled.” Billboard 10 Feb. 1945: 15.
  10. “Tommy Dorsey.” Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands. AFRS, 12 Feb. 1945.
  11. “Platter Chatter.” Richmond Collegian 23 Feb. 1945: 2.
  12. Rathbun, Joe. “Joe's Radio Parade.” Sunday Times-Signal [Zanesville, Ohio] 18 Mar. 1945: 2-10.
  13. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 31 Mar. 1945: 23.
  14. “Hollywood Bound.” Hagerstown Daily Mail 5 Apr. 1945: 8.
  15. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 7 Apr. 1945: 66.
  16. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 14 Apr. 1945: 23.
  17. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 11 Aug. 1945: 21.
  18. “Dorothy Kilgallen.” Lowell Sun [Lowell, Massachusetts] 15 Sep. 1945: 11.
  19. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 22 Sep. 1945: 85.
  20. “'On Stage Everybody' to Open Here on Friday.” Hanover Evening Sun 3 Nov. 1945: 4.
  21. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 12 Jan. 1946: 30.
  22. “On the Stand: Charlie Barnet” Billboard 17 May 1947: 35

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