Jimmy Cook

Baritone Jimmy Cook was slated to re­place Margaret Whiting in Freddie Slacks newly re­or­ga­nized band in August 1943. Whiting had signed on for the group’s one-week open­ing en­gage­ment at the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco. Whether Cook ac­tu­ally ended up join­ing Slack’s band is un­known. By October, he was with Tommy Dorseys band, with re­ports at the time claim­ing he’d never sang in pub­lic” be­fore his de­but with Dorsey at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Dorsey heard Cook on a lo­cal West Coast ra­dio pro­gram, Hollywood Showcase, and signed him the same night, lik­ing the way he per­formed All or Nothing at All.” He was gone from Dorsey’s out­fit by the end of November.[1]

In January 1945, Cook joined Bob Mohr’s band. He was in Hal McIntyres or­ches­tra by at least May of that year, though, but had to leave the group when he was found phys­i­cally un­able to go over­seas for the band’s USO tour start­ing in June. He was re­placed by an­other ex-Tommy Dorsey vo­cal­ist, Frankie Lester. In an in­ter­view, Cook claimed to have also sang for Harry James at Hollywood’s Palladium and made sev­eral record­ings with Spike Jones in ad­di­tion to tour­ing with the USO in Korea.[2]

Cook had en­listed in the Army prior to Pearl Harbor but had been hon­or­ably dis­charged due to a defect in vi­sion,” mak­ing him draft-ex­empt, which was per­haps his biggest draw for band­lead­ers at a time when male vo­cal­ists were be­ing scooped up right and left by the armed ser­vices.

By the early 1950s, Cook was mak­ing the night­club cir­cuit, singing and ac­com­pa­ny­ing him­self on gui­tar and a minia­ture har­mon­ica he called Little Lady.” He’d be­gun the har­mon­ica gim­mick dur­ing a bout of laryn­gi­tis in Honolulu when he needed some­thing to help him through his act. By the mid-1950s, he’d teamed up with Don Sutton and Dick Rock in an act called Don, Dick and Jimmy. The trio made sev­eral record­ings.

Notes

  1. Cook him­self later claimed to have spent eight months tour­ing with Dorsey. He also claimed to have re­placed Dick Haymes in Dorsey’s band, which was en­tirely un­true. Haymes left in May 1943 and Skip Nelson had taken his place. Cook had re­placed Nelson.
  2. These claims come from the same in­ter­view as those in the note above. During his night­club days, Cook billed him­self as a for­mer singer with Dorsey, James, and Jones.

Sources

  1. “Slack Opens at Golden Gate with New Band.” Billboard 7 Aug. 1943: 12.
  2. “On the Stand: Tommy Dorsey.” Billboard 16 Oct. 1943: 16.
  3. Stevenson, L.L. “Tommy Dorsey Reduces Fast Training Band.” Bluefield Daily Telegraph [Bluefield, West Virginia] 11 Nov. 1943: 4.
  4. “Bob Mohr Signs New Vocalist.” Arcadia Tribune [Arcadia, California] 18 Jan. 1945: 2-1.
  5. “McIntyre in E.T.O. via George Moffett.” Billboard 14 Jul. 1945: 16.
  6. “Platter Chatter.” Richmond Collegian 21 Sep. 1945: 2.
  7. Advertising. Tuscon Daily Citizen 12 Oct. 1951: 20.
  8. Castillo, Ed. “Laryngitis Behind It All.” San Antonio Light 25 Jan. 1953: 10.
  9. “Trio Appears at 'Saddle.'” Bakersfield Californian 23 Aug. 1955: 21.