The Pied Pipers

Photo of The Pied Pipers

Best re­mem­bered for their early work with Tommy Dorsey, the Pied Pipers orig­i­nally con­sisted of eight mem­bers, seven men and one woman. The octet was formed in Los Angeles dur­ing the mid-1930s, an amal­ga­ma­tion of two groups, the Rhythm Kings and the Esquires, plus Jo Stafford. Their styl­ish har­monies proved ap­peal­ing, and they be­gan work­ing at lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions and record­ing for Hollywood sound­tracks. They soon at­tracted the at­ten­tion of Dorsey arrangers Paul Weston and Axel Stordahl.

In 1938, Weston per­suaded Dorsey to give the Pied Pipers a spot on the Raleigh-Kool Show, a pop­u­lar ra­dio pro­gram. All eight mem­bers piled into two cars and drove to New York, with no promise of work other than one shot on the ra­dio. The show went well though, and they were signed to ap­pear for ten weeks, but just as every­thing seemed to be go­ing their way, dis­as­ter struck. During their sec­ond pro­gram, the spon­sor heard them for the first time, did­n’t like them, and promptly fired them. The Pipers re­mained in New York for seven more months, land­ing only one job the whole time from which they made $3.60 each, though they did record four sides for RCA Victor dur­ing their stay.

Returning to Los Angeles, the group lost four mem­bers to reg­u­lar jobs on the way. The re­main­ing mem­bers (Stafford, her then-hus­band John Huddleston, Billy Wilson and Chuck Lowry) strug­gled to make a liv­ing and were on the verge of call­ing it quits when, in 1939, they re­ceived an of­fer from Dorsey to join his or­ches­tra. Shortly af­ter, Wilson was re­placed by Clark Yocum, who had pre­vi­ously sang and played gui­tar for Mal Halletts or­ches­tra.

With Dorsey, the Pipers fi­nally found suc­cess. Stafford was fea­tured solo on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, and the group backed Frank Sinatra on many of his early num­bers. The Pied Pipers re­mained with Dorsey un­til Thanksgiving Day 1942, when Dorsey ex­ploded at one of the mem­bers, ig­nit­ing an ar­gu­ment with the whole group, who promptly quit. They were im­me­di­ately hired by three ra­dio sta­tions.

Huddleston left the group to join the ser­vice that same year. He was re­placed by Hal Hopper, who had been one of the orig­i­nal eight mem­bers. In 1943, the Pipers were signed by Johnny Mercer to his newly-formed la­bel, Capitol Records. Stafford left the group in 1944 to pur­sue a solo ca­reer and was re­placed by June Hutton, half-sis­ter of band­leader Ina Ray Hutton and a for­mer mem­ber of Charlie Spivak vo­cal group the Stardusters. The Pipers went on to record sev­eral hits dur­ing the re­main­der of the 1940s, in­clud­ing Dream,” their first mil­lion seller.

In 1947, Huddleston sued the group plus ex-wife Stafford for breach of con­tract. When he had en­tered the ser­vice, his spot in the quar­tet was to be guar­an­teed upon his re­turn, but he was not al­lowed to re­join when that time came.

The group’s pop­u­lar­ity be­gan to wane in the late 1940s, and the mem­bers drifted off into per­sonal pur­suits. Hutton left the quar­tet in 1949 and recorded sev­eral solo al­bums for Capitol, backed by hus­band Alex Stordahl’s or­ches­tra. Hopper went on to play a reg­u­lar role as Corporal Clark on the tele­vi­sion se­ries The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. He also ap­peared in sev­eral films, in­clud­ing the clas­sic Beau Geste and the Ann-Margret ve­hi­cle Kitten with a Whip. Hutton passed away in 1973, Hopper in 1970. Jo Stafford in 2008. A group bear­ing the Pied Pipers’ name still tours to­day.


Previous <<
Play > Pause ||
Next >>
0:00 / 0:00
Select a song to play
Play All
  • I'll Never Smile Again
    Tommy Dorsey (Frank Sinatra, Pied Pipers), Victor (1940)
  • Oh, Look at Me Now
    Tommy Dorsey (Frank Sinatra), Victor (1941)
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street
    Jo Stafford, Capitol (1944)

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


Select a video to play
  • Screenshot
    "It Started All Over Again"
    The Pied Pipers
    from the film Jam Session, Columbia (1944)

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.


Previous <<
Play > Pause ||
Next >>
0:00 / 0:00
Select a program to play
Play All
  • Silver Platter: Andy Russell, Marion Hutton, Pied Pipers
    1948 (AFRS) 15:31


  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. “T.D. Plans to Use Strings in His Ork.” Billboard 9 May 1942: 25.
  4. “Jo Stafford and Gracie Fields Set for Summer.” Billboard 3 Jun. 1944: 6.
  5. “'Chesterfield Music Shop' Gets Wendall Niles & Pipers.” Billboard 10 Jun. 1944: 11.
  6. “Popular Record Reviews.” Billboard 25 Nov. 1944: 21.
  7. “Popular Record Reviews.” Billboard 16 Dec. 1944: 21.
  8. “Jo Stafford Suit Settled for $9000.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 12 Jun. 1947: 2.
  9. “Network and Local Program Reviews.” Billboard 3 Apr. 1948: 10.