Ray Eberle

Photo of Ray Eberle

Ray Eberle was the brother of Jimmy Dorsey singer Bob Eberly. Ray had no pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence when he joined Glenn Miller in 1938. Miller, look­ing for a male vo­cal­ist for his new or­ches­tra, asked Bob if he had any broth­ers at home who could sing. Bob said yes,” and Miller hired Ray with­out ques­tion.

Though mu­sic crit­ics were of­ten unim­pressed with Ray’s voice, he be­came an in­te­gral part of the Miller line-up, singing on many of the group’s biggest hits. Even Miller’s own mu­si­cians weren’t happy with Eberle’s style and of­ten voiced their com­plaints, but Miller stuck with him. Audiences loved him. He placed sec­ond in Billboard mag­a­zine’s 1941 col­lege poll for best male band vo­cal­ist and won first place in 1942.

A lack of pro­fes­sional dis­ci­pline led to Eberle’s de­par­ture from the or­ches­tra in June 1942, though the ac­tual event that caused his dis­missal was be­yond his con­trol. Stuck in traf­fic dur­ing a Chicago en­gage­ment, he was late for re­hearsal. Miller fired him on the spot, no ques­tions asked. Eberle re­sponded by blast­ing Miller in a trade pa­per. An an­gry Miller re­torted with his own ver­sion of Eberle’s fir­ing.

Despite the pub­lic rift with his for­mer boss, Eberle soon landed a job with Gene Krupa. He stayed only a short while, how­ever, leav­ing in January 1943 to join Jan Garber, whom he left the next month to go solo when he landed a seven-year con­tract with Universal Studios. Touring on his own, he per­formed with the or­ches­tra of Glenn Miller’s brother, Herb, in April 1943. He placed third in Billboards 1943 male band vo­cal­ist poll. In mid-1945, he made a failed at­tempt at form­ing a band with sax player Dave Matthews.

Eberle made sev­eral films dur­ing the mid-1940s and formed his own or­ches­tra in 1947. The group broke up in the late-1950s, af­ter which Eberle con­tin­ued per­form­ing, of­ten ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion. In 1970, he joined for­mer Miller band­mate Tex Benekes or­ches­tra for a na­tional tour. He later re-formed his own group.

Ray Eberle died from a heart at­tack in 1979, age 60.

Music

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  • Elmer's Tune
    Glenn Miller (Ray Eberle), Bluebird (1941)
  • Moonlight Cocktail
    Glenn Miller (Ray Eberle, Modernaires), Bluebird (1941)

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Films

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  • Screenshot
    "People Like You and Me"
    Glenn Miller (Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton, Modernaires, Tex Beneke)
    from Orchestra Wives, 20th Century Fox (1942)

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Radio

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  • Glenn Miller
    June 18, 1938 (NBC) 29:59
  • Glenn Miller
    June 19, 1939 (NBC) 13:54
  • Glenn Miller Chesterfield Show
    May 14, 1942 (CBS) 13:59
  • Glenn Miller Chesterfield Show, Ray Eberle interview
    June 25, 1942 (CBS) 1:48

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. “Campus Picks Top Chirps.” Billboard 2 May 1942: 19.
  4. “Vaudeville Reviews: Orpheum, Los Angeles.” Billboard 16 Jan. 1943: 16.
  5. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 23 Jan. 1943: 23.
  6. Chasins, Gladys. “Picture Tie-Ups for Music Machine Operators.” Billboard 13 Feb. 1943: 65.
  7. “Ray Eberle Singing with Herb Miller.” Billboard 24 Apr. 1943: 23.
  8. “Students Select Singers.” Billboard 5 Jun. 1943: 20.
  9. “Ray Eberle Joins Dave Matthews in New Band Set-Up.” Billboard 28 Apr. 1945: 18.
  10. “Music as Written.” Billboard 25 Jun. 1947: 30.
  11. Downs, Bobbi. “Many to Attend Ray Eberle Show This Week-End.” The Evening Independent [St. Petersburg, FL] 21 Aug. 1958: 4B.
  12. “Miller Era Recalled by Eberle Repertoire.” The Evening Independent [St. Petersburg, FL] 7 Jul. 1960: 6C.
  13. “Funeral Services Today in Georgia for Ray Eberle.” The Day [New London, CT] 28 Aug. 1979: 29.