Tex Beneke

Photo of Tex Beneke
  • Birth Name

    Gordon Lee Beneke
  • Born

    February 12, 1914
    Ft. Worth, Texas
  • Died

    May 30, 2000 (age 86)
    Costa Mesa, California
  • Orchestras

    Glenn Miller

Saxophonist Tex Beneke is best re­mem­bered for his long as­so­ci­a­tion with Glenn Miller. Beneke be­gan his ca­reer per­form­ing in re­gional bands in the Oklahoma and Texas area. He joined Ben Young in 1935 and trav­eled to Detroit with Young’s group in 1937. There he was heard by fel­low sax­o­phon­ist Sam Donahue, who rec­om­mended him to his then boss, Gene Krupa. Krupa could­n’t hire Beneke but knew Miller was putting to­gether a new out­fit and in­formed the band­leader about him.

Beneke de­buted with Miller’s or­ches­tra in 1938. He quickly be­came Miller’s clos­est as­so­ci­ate and emerged as a pop­u­lar star in his own right. Aside from his sax du­ties he oc­ca­sion­ally sang, most no­tably on the hit song Chattanooga Choo Choo.” He also ap­peared with the band in their two film ap­pear­ances.

Post-Miller Years

When Miller dis­banded in September 1942 to join the Army Air Force, Beneke went out on tour with fel­low Miller vo­cal­ists Marion Hutton and the Modernaires as a com­bined act called the Glenn Miller Singers. Beneke re­ceived of­fers from Jan Savitt and Horace Heidt, tak­ing the lat­ter at a ru­mored guar­an­tee of $500.00 per week, but three weeks later, in December, he was drafted into the Navy and forced to put his ca­reer on hold. While in the ser­vice he led a dance band at an Oklahoma mil­i­tary base.

After his dis­charge in 1945, Beneke was re­cruited by Miller’s widow to lead his for­mer em­ploy­er’s Army Air Force or­ches­tra when it re­turned to the states. He read­ily ac­cepted, and the group made their first civil­ian per­for­mance in January 1946. The band quickly be­came one of the most pop­u­lar in the coun­try, chart­ing many hits over the next few years and play­ing to record-break­ing crowds.

Beneke, how­ever, was not con­tent with the re­stric­tions placed upon him by Miller’s es­tate. He was forced to stick with Miller’s orig­i­nal and wartime books and al­lowed no in­no­va­tion. He felt that Miller’s sound was ca­pa­ble of be­ing ex­panded upon and of­ten ar­gued that Miller him­self had planned to ex­plore new di­rec­tions af­ter the war.

Finally in December 1950, Beneke broke his of­fi­cial ties with Miller, con­tin­u­ing on with the band un­der his own name. Numerous changes in the line-up made it an al­most en­tirely new out­fit. The or­ches­tra re­mained highly pop­u­lar for many years. Members of note in­clude vo­cal­ist Eydie Gorme and arranger Henry Mancini.

Beneke con­tin­ued work­ing up un­til the 1990s. Tex Beneke passed away in 2000 from res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure.

Music

Previous <<
Play > Pause ||
Next >>
0:00 / 0:00
Select a song to play
Play All
  • Three Little Fishes
    Glenn Miller (Marion Hutton, Tex Beneke), Bluebird (1939)
  • Chattanooga Choo Choo
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Modernaires), Bluebird (1941)
  • I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, Modernaires), RCA Victor (1942)
  • Jukebox Saturday Night
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, Modernaires), RCA Victor (1942)
  • Give Me Five Minutes More
    Tex Beneke and the Miller Orchestra (Tex Beneke), RCA Victor (1946)
  • Uncle Remus Said
    Tex Beneke and the Miller Orchestra (Lillian Land and vocal group), RCA Victor (1946)

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

Films

Select a video to play
  • Screenshot
    "Chattanooga Choo Choo"
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Paula Kelly, Modernaires)
    from Sun Valley Serenade, 20th Century Fox (1941)
  • Screenshot
    "People Like You and Me"
    Glenn Miller (Ray Eberle, Marion Hutton, Modernaires, Tex Beneke)
    from Orchestra Wives, 20th Century Fox (1942)
  • Screenshot
    "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo"
    Glenn Miller (Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, Modernaires)
    from Orchestra Wives, 20th Century Fox (1942)
  • Screenshot
    "Serenade in Blue"
    Tex Beneke (Crew Chiefs, Arthur Melvin, Lillian Lane)
    (1946)

We embed media from YouTube and the Internet Archive. Items may disappear on those services without notice. If you run across something that's no longer available, please let us know so we can remove the embed.

Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.

Radio

Previous <<
Play > Pause ||
Next >>
0:00 / 0:00
Select a program to play
Play All
  • 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
    July 14, 1942 (CBS) 13:59

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. “Miller Singers Rebooked.” Billboard 12 Dec. 1942: 17.
  4. “Midnight Shows at All Downtown Houses Tomorrow.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 30 Dec. 1942: 9.
  5. “Tex Beneke Set to Head Miller Outfit in Mufti.” Billboard 6 Oct. 1945: 15.
  6. “Music as Written.” Billboard 5 Jan. 1946: 28.
  7. “On the Stand: Tex Beneke.” Billboard 27 Jan. 1951: 16.
  8. Oliver, Myrna. “Bandleader Tex Beneke Dies.” The Daily Gazette [Schenectady, NY] 1 Jun. 2000: C8