Teddy Walters

Photo of Teddy Walters

Originally a gui­tarist by trade, Teddy Walters worked with sev­eral bands, in­clud­ing those of Ray Noble and Raymond Scott, be­fore join­ing fel­low Philadelphian Charlie Ventura’s first or­ches­tra in May 1942, where he re­ceived fea­ture billing. Walters’ gui­tar skills soon at­tracted the at­ten­tion of Gene Krupa, who signed him away from Ventura that October. After Krupa’s ar­rest on trumped-up mar­i­juana charges in early 1943, which caused his or­ches­tra to dis­band, Walters worked with Ben Webster’s five-piece combo, rub­bing el­bows with such jazz greats as Billie Holiday and Coleman Hawkins.

Walters joined Tommy Dorseys or­ches­tra in late 1943. At the time, Dorsey was hav­ing trou­ble with male vo­cal­ists and found him­self in need of a singer for up­com­ing en­gage­ments in New York. Knowing that Walters could sing, he put the gui­tarist in front of the mike that November, and au­di­ences went wild. With a voice sim­i­lar to that of Frank Sinatra, so much so that even crit­ics had a hard time telling them apart, Walters be­came an overnight sen­sa­tion. Dorsey knew a good thing when he saw one and of­fered Walters a five-year con­tract. The band­leader, though, also wanted a per­cent­age of Walters’ fu­ture earn­ings should he go solo, and Walters’ man­ager re­fused. Walters left the band at the first of the year rather than sign.[1]

Dorsey tried sev­eral times over the next few months to get Walters back, but Walters was­n’t in­ter­ested. He cer­tainly did­n’t lack for work. American Tobacco, the spon­sor of Your Hit Parade, signed him as Sinatra’s stand-in should some­thing hap­pen to the more fa­mous singer, who was then the cur­rent host of the show. Walters also kept busy as a mu­si­cian on record­ings with Cozy Cole and as part of Keynote’s jazz ses­sions disks. He also co-wrote, with Sid Robin, the song (Yip Yip De Hootie) My Baby Said Yes,” made pop­u­lar by Bing Crosby and Louis Jordan that year.

Walters even­tu­ally ended up in the Dorsey fold once again, though this time with Jimmy. He signed with the el­der Dorsey’s band in June 1944 as both a singer and gui­tarist. Again he caused a sen­sa­tion. Audiences could­n’t get enough of his voice, de­mand­ing en­core af­ter en­core. Critics also loved him. One her­alded him as the most im­por­tant male band vo­cal­ist of the last three years, though many noted his stiff­ness at the mike. Not trained as a pro­fes­sional singer, Walters’ de­liv­ery and gen­eral ap­pear­ance were of­ten rough.

Walters re­mained with Jimmy Dorsey un­til October 1945 when he left to go solo. He recorded with Tommy Todd’s or­ches­tra in December 1945 and un­der his own name for the ARA la­bel in early 1946. He also played gui­tar for a Billie Holiday record­ing and had his own ABC ra­dio pro­gram Teddy Walters Presents. Walters both sang and played on his solo record­ings, where he was billed as Teddy Walters, His Voice and Guitar.”

At the start, Walters’ ca­reer looked promis­ing. He cracked the Top Ten dur­ing the week of April 13, 1946 with his record­ing of Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside),” which de­buted at num­ber nine on the charts. He signed with Musicraft soon af­ter, where he recorded both solo and with Artie Shaw. None of Walters’ sub­se­quent work, though, caught the pub­lic’s in­ter­est. He con­tin­ued with Musicraft into early 1947 and ap­peared with Boyd Raeburns band in a Columbia mu­si­cal short that same year. By 1948 how­ever, his spot­light had faded, and he even­tu­ally re­turned to Philadelphia, where he made a failed come­back at­tempt in December 1950.

Notes

  1. Dorsey had a sim­i­lar arrange­ment with Frank Sinatra. Sinatra even­tu­ally ended up buy­ing Dorsey out of the con­tract. Tommy Dorsey was, be­yond any­thing else, an as­tute busi­ness­man.

Music

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  • Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart
    Jimmy Dorsey (Teddy Walters), Decca (1944)
  • Magic Is the Moonlight (Te Quiero Dijiste)
    Jimmy Dorsey (Teddy Walters, Patti Palmer), Decca (1944)
  • Dream
    Jimmy Dorsey (Teddy Walters), Decca (1945)
  • Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)
    Teddy Walters, ARA (1946)
  • You Do Something to Me
    Artie Shaw (Teddy Walters), Musicraft (1946)
  • This Is the Night
    Teddy Walters, Musicraft (1946)

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

Sources

  1. The Online Discographical Project. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
  2. “Teddy Walters.” IMDb. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
  3. “Preems Ork in Music Shop!” Billboard 30 May 1942: 21.
  4. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 25 Jul. 1942: 25.
  5. “Holiday, Hawkins, Webster, Tatum, Pulling 'Em in and Knocking 'Em Out on 52nd St.” Billboard 16 Oct. 1943: 4.
  6. “Cat's Corner.” The SaMoJaC 24 Nov. 1943: 2.
  7. “T. Dorsey Wants Vocalist Walters.” Billboard 19 Feb. 1944: 13.
  8. “Keynote Set to Invade Longhair Jive Disk Field.” Billboard 4 Mar. 1944: 15.
  9. “Popular Record Reviews.” Billboard 6 May 1944: 19.
  10. “Sinatra's Stand In.” Billboard 10 Jun. 1944: 11.
  11. “Walters to Warble for JD.” Billboard 1 Jul. 1944: 15.
  12. “On the Stand: Jimmy Dorsey.” Billboard 12 Aug. 1944: 20.
  13. “Vaudeville Reviews: Capitol, New York.” Billboard 25 Nov. 1944: 29.
  14. “Morrow Gets His Break.” Billboard 2 Jun. 1945: 16.
  15. “Music as Written.” Billboard 13 Oct. 1945: 21.
  16. Advertisement. Billboard 15 Dec. 1945: 17.
  17. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 23 Mar. 1946: 130.
  18. “Records Most-Played on the Air.” Billboard 20 Apr. 1946: 29.
  19. “Most-Played Juke Box Records.” Billboard 18 May 1946: 117.
  20. “Music as Written.” Billboard 8 Jun. 1946: 24.
  21. “Records Most-Played on the Air.” Billboard 22 Jun. 1946: 28.
  22. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 13 Jul. 1946: 33.
  23. “Reviews of New Records.” Billboard 13 Jul. 1946: 34.
  24. “The Billboard First Annual Music-Record Poll.” Billboard 4 Jan. 1947: 10.
  25. “Music as Written.” Billboard 22 Mar. 1947: 19.
  26. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 19 Apr. 1947: 118.
  27. “Chi Midnight Concerts Start.” Billboard 8 Jan. 1948: 17.
  28. “Music as Written.” Billboard 16 Dec. 1950: 16.