Bob Eberly

aka Bob Eberle

Photo of Bob Eberly
  • Birth Name

    Robert Eberle
  • Born

    July 24, 1916
    Mechanicsville, New York
  • Died

    November 17, 1981 (age 65)
    Glen Burnie, Maryland
  • Orchestras

    Jimmy Dorsey

Popular singer Bob Eberly spent much of his ca­reer with Jimmy Dorseys or­ches­tra. Eberly gained promi­nence in his early years by win­ning Fred Allen’s am­a­teur hour and be­gan his pro­fes­sional ca­reer singing in clubs around his home­town of Hoosick Falls, in up­state New York. His act con­sisted of singing while ac­com­pa­ny­ing him­self on the gui­tar. One re­viewer de­scribed his style as individual.” It was in Troy, New York, where the Dorsey Brothers dis­cov­ered him, later hir­ing him to re­place the de­part­ing Bob Crosby.

Eberly started work in the spring of 1935, three weeks be­fore Tommy walked out on the or­ches­tra. Having been hired by Tommy, he feared los­ing his job, but both broth­ers of­fered him a po­si­tion. He chose Jimmy, as Tommy would­n’t be able to pay him for sev­eral weeks un­til his new band was ready to per­form.

Eberly stayed with Jimmy for eight years and ranked as one of the top male vo­cal­ists of his day, ri­val­ing Bing Crosby and later Frank Sinatra for that ti­tle. He placed third in Billboard mag­a­zine’s 1940, 1941 and 1942 col­lege polls for best male vo­cal­ist, mov­ing up to sec­ond in 1943. At the be­gin­ning of 1939, he changed the spelling of his last name from Eberle be­cause the an­nouncer of the Milton Berle ra­dio pro­gram kept mis­pro­nounc­ing it.

Well-liked by his peers, Eberly be­came best friends and even­tu­ally room­mates with Jimmy Dorsey. Throughout his ca­reer, he was en­cour­aged by many in the in­dus­try to strike out on his own, but he re­fused. He was per­fectly happy earn­ing a weekly salary with Dorsey’s group. Most fa­mous are his duets with Helen O’Connell, in whom he also had ro­man­tic in­ter­est.

In December 1943, Eberly’s re­la­tion­ship with Dorsey fi­nally ended when he en­tered the army and was sta­tioned in the Chicago area with Wayne King’s or­ches­tra. His two years in the ser­vice se­verely hurt his ca­reer. After he re­ceived his dis­charge, he signed with Decca and be­gan tour­ing as a solo act, find­ing though that he had been largely for­got­ten by the gen­eral pub­lic.

Eberly recorded for the Coral and World la­bels in the late 1940s be­fore sign­ing to Capitol in 1951, where he was re­united on duets with O’Connell. During the early 1950s, he was a reg­u­lar on the tele­vi­sion pro­gram TVs Top Tunes, but by the mid­dle of the decade he had faded from the pub­lic eye. He spent the rest of his ca­reer singing mostly in small clubs.

In 1980, Eberly had one lung re­moved but still con­tin­ued to sing. Frank Sinatra paid for the op­er­a­tion, even though the two singers had never met. Bob Eberly died of a heart at­tack in 1981. His younger brother, Ray Eberle, sang with Glenn Miller and later led his own band.

Music

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  • It's Funny to Everyone But Me
    Jimmy Dorsey (Bob Eberly), Decca (1939)
  • Tangerine
    Jimmy Dorsey (Bob Eberly, Helen O'Connell), Decca (1941)
  • Besame Mucho
    Jimmy Dorsey (Bob Eberly, Kitty Kallen), Decca (1943)

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

Films

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  • Screenshot
    "Tangerine"
    Jimmy Dorsey (Bob Eberly, Helen O'Connell)
    from the film The Fleet’s In, Paramount (1942)
  • Screenshot
    "Green Eyes"
    Jimmy Dorsey (Bob Eberly, Helen O'Connell)
    from the film The Fabulous Dorseys, United Artists (1947)

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Sources

  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. Walker, Leo. The Wonderful Era of the Great Dance Bands. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1972.
  3. The Online Discographical Project. Accessed 5 Jan. 2016.
  4. “Vaudeville Reviews: Roxy, New York.” Billboard 16 Mar. 1935: 15.
  5. “Club Reviews: Palomar, Los Angeles.” Billboard 28 Mar. 1936: 30.
  6. “Vaudeville Reviews: Stanley, Pittsburgh.” Billboard 14 Aug. 1937: 16.
  7. “Night Club Reviews: Terrace Room, Hotel New Yorker, New York.” Billboard 12 Mar. 1938: 20.
  8. “Vaudeville Reviews: Paramount, New York.” Billboard 23 Jul. 1938: 20.
  9. “Night Club Reviews: Bon Air Country Club, Wheeling, Ill.” Billboard 20 Aug. 1938: 18.
  10. “Edythe Wright Leaves.” Down Beat Jan. 1939: 2.
  11. “Advertisement.” Billboard 30 Sep. 1939: 83.
  12. “Campus Picks Top Chirps.” Billboard 2 May 1942: 19.
  13. “Students Select Singers.” Billboard 5 Jun. 1943: 20.
  14. The Billboard 1943 Music Year Book Cincinnati: Billboard, 1944. 139.
  15. “Music as Written.” Billboard 1 Dec. 1945: 17.
  16. “Eberly's Cap Pact Relinks Warbler Team.” Billboard 1 Dec. 1945: 17.
  17. “Bob Eberly Recalls Those Dorsey Days.” Ludington Daily News [Ludington, MI] 26 Jul. 1977: 13.
  18. “Sinatra Hasn't Met Bob Eberly But He's Footing His Cancer Bill.” Lakeland Ledger [Lakeland, FL] 4 Sep. 1981: 2A.
  19. “Jimmy Dorsey's Singer, Bob Eberly, Dies at 65.”: The Milwaukee Journal 18 Nov. 1981: 15.