Monday, November 12, 2012

Tony Bennett's first recording: "St. James Infirmary"

After a distinguished career in the army (and an eventual demotion for eating in a restaurant with a black friend), Tony Bennett made his first recording. This was on a V-disc, for American troops. You can read a bit about V-discs here, in a touching article by George Tannenbaum. You can read about his army career here, and here. All of these items are very interesting.

The record was made in 1946 or 1947. Bennett would have been about 20 years old. He was backed by the army orchestra, in Germany. The song was not released in the U.S., due to a musicians' strike. If you can't afford the Tony Bennett Complete Collection ($400 at Barnes & Noble), and want to hear the first recording Bennett made, "St. James Infirmary," you can find it here (although you will need Spotify). Wonderful.
Inquiries into the early years of SJI