Liz Tilton began her career singing with Ken Baker’s West Coast swing band in the mid-1930s. Though never as popular as her older sister, Benny Goodman vocalist Martha, Tilton kept busy as a chirp well into the mid-1940s, working with Buddy Rogers’ swing outfit in 1938, Ray Noble in early 1940, and Bob Crosby’s band in 1941. She also cut a solo soundie, “Abercrombie Had a Zombie,” in 1941 with RCM. The song, described by Billboard as “zany,” also featured “eccentric dancer” Lee Murray.
Tilton joined Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra in April 1943 but stayed only two months, leaving in June to go solo. She’d joined Jan Garber’s swing band by September, however, proving very popular with audiences and critics. She remained with Garber until July 1944 when she retired from show business to become a “full-time housewife.” She was back on the stage in February 1946, though, for a short stay with Gene Krupa’s orchestra, replacing Anita O’Day.
Tilton continued working into the 1950s, singing with Clyde McCoy’s orchestra in 1952 and dueting with her sister on Coral Records as The Liltin’ Tiltons in 1953. She was often bill by her full name, Elizabeth Tilton, as well as the more familiar Liz.
- The “zombie” in question was the name of a popular alcoholic drink. This was well before the word came to have its modern meaning. Zombies in the 1940s were not the brain-eating undead creatures as we know them today. That image became the norm after the 1960s, influenced by director Roger Corman’s Living Dead films. The term zombie in the 1940s meant someone who was still alive but under the control of another person by hypnotism or drugs.