Singer Ralph Young was one of the few big band vocalists who found greater fame in the post-band era than he did during its heyday. He is best remembered today as one-half of the entertainment duo Sandler and Young, popular during the 1960s and 1970s. He began his career on the bandstand however.
A New York native, Young worked as a messenger at Warner Brothers in the mid-1930s and sang in local clubs and restaurants before landing a job with Tommy Reynolds in 1940, where he remained until joining Les Brown in summer 1941. He left Brown in May 1942 and signed with Shep Fields in June, replacing Ken Curtis, who had just been drafted. His stay with Fields was short as he too fell victim to the draft in August.
During the war, Young served in the army, singing with the unceremoniously named AATC Band No. 2 at Fort Bliss, Texas. After his discharge, he returned to show business, but little opportunity came his way until 1949 when he signed with the Happiness label, owned by bandleader Louis Prima. Happiness dubbed him their “top swoon boy,” teaming him with Keely Smith for a recording. Young also recorded on RCA Victor that year, singing for Irving Fields’ Trio. He caught the ear of London Records, who distributed American recordings in the United Kingdom, and they signed him late in 1949. In 1950, he began to record on Decca, where he was often teamed with other artists, including Sy Oliver and comedian Joey Faye. He remained with Decca until 1956, when he moved to Epic. Young’s recordings where generally well-received, but he never had a major hit.
In 1958, Young landed a role in the short-lived Broadway production Whoop-Up, which ran for a month-and-a-half. He also sang on the cast album for MGM Records. He performed on a few television programs in the 1950s, and in 1960 his voice appeared on the soundtrack of the nudist film Hideout in the Sun, the first of his three contributions to the genre. Nude on the Moon followed in 1961 and Blaze Starr Goes Nudist in 1962, the latter in which he also performed on-screen under the pseudonym Russ Martine.
Young finally managed to latch onto success after he met Belgian singer Tony Sandler in Milan, Italy, during 1963, where the two men were rehearsing for a French revue being imported by the Dunes in Las Vegas. They got along well, and in 1965 they teamed up, becoming an instant hit. The duo were featured on a plethora of television programs during the late 1960s and early 1970s and had their own summer replacement serie, filmed in London, in 1969 and 1970. They recorded for Capitol Records.
Sandler and Young continued performing together until 1983, when Young, twenty years older than Sandler, retired from show business. Young’s wife, Muriel, whom he had married in October 1941, died in 1984, and he remarried two years later. Ralph Young passed away in 2008 at the age of 90.