Bob Chester

Photo of Bob Chester
  • Born

    March 20, 1908
    Detroit, Michigan
  • Died

    October 29, 1966 (age 58)
    Detroit, Michigan

Saxophonist and band­leader Bob Chester came from a wealthy fam­ily. His step­fa­ther was head of General Motor’s Fisher Body Works. Chester formed his first or­ches­tra in his home­town of Detroit in 1939. Heavily in­flu­enced by Glenn Miller, the group’s sound proved un­o­rig­i­nal, and it soon dis­banded af­ter ini­tial en­gage­ments at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Tommy Dorsey took an in­ter­est in Chester and in­vited him to move east. Dorsey helped Chester or­ga­nize a new band, which proved more suc­cess­ful. Though it too sounded like Miller at first, later it de­vel­oped a style of its own, thanks to arrange­ments by David Rose.

Chester went through a slew of singers. Initial fe­male vo­cal­ists in­cluded Dolores Dodie” O’Neill and Kathleen Lane. O’Neill mar­ried trum­peter Alec Fila and even­tu­ally left the band when Fila did. Singer Betty Bradley then joined. Male singers were Gene Howard, Bill Darnell, Joe Harris, Stu Brayton, Hall Stewart, and Bob Haymes, younger brother of ac­tor/​vo­cal­ist Dick Haymes. Peter Marshall, bet­ter known to­day as the host of the orig­i­nal Hollywood Squares game show, also ap­peared as a vo­cal­ist with Chester. He re­placed Howard, who left to join Stan Kenton in 1942. David Allen sang in 1944, and Bob Anthony in late 1945. The group recorded on the Bluebird la­bel.

Chester’s band broke up around the end of WWII, and he moved back to Detroit. Working as a disc jockey he re­ceived so many re­quests for Dixieland mu­sic that he de­cided to form his own combo. He also formed a new band at the end of the 1940s. Alan Foster was vo­cal­ist. Eventually, though, Chester left the mu­sic busi­ness al­to­gether and en­tered the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try. Bob Chester died in 1966.


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  • Screenshot
    "Shoo Shoo Baby"
    Bob Chester (Ida James)
    from Trocadero, Republic (1944)

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