Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 9 June 1900, Tyrone PA; d 29 July '83, State College PA) Bandleader; also songwriter, arranger, played violin, banjo. Attended Penn State U, led banjo-based dance band age 18; later formed Fred Waring's Collegians, became Pennsylvanians, based in Detroit. Recorded for Victor '20s, mostly very commercial but some jazz-infl. records: 'Farewell Blues', 'Down Home Blues'; in early '30s covers of Don Redman's 'I Heard', 'How'm I Doin'?'. Band incl. singing trumpeter Johnny 'Scat' Davis; drummer Poley McClintock (did vocals styled after Popeye the Sailor); the McFarland twins, Arthur and George, were handsome blonds who played reeds and had own corny band late '30s, suddenly became more modern c'42 but never hit the big time. Brother Tom Waring (b 12 Feb. '02, Tyrone; d 29 Dec. '60, Shawnee PA) played piano, also well- known songwriter. Both brothers sang in early days. Waring's rival was Irving Aaronson, whose band appeared on Broadway in Paris while Waring's was in Hello, Yourself '28. Made film Syncopation '29, show The New Yorkers '30, film Varsity Show with Dick Powell '37.
Waring made fewer records after '32, afraid that others were copying his arrangements while there was more money in radio: Ford was paying him $12,500 a programme. He was still under contract to Victor but hadn't made any records for three years, so he was recorded off the air by a transcription studio who sold the recordings to another radio station, and the resulting injunction was one of the first successes against bootleg records (see Bootlegs). However Waring and his associates (ASCAP and NAPA, the National Association of Performing Artists, which Waring had helped to form) then tried to prevent the unauthorized playing of any records, even commercially made ones, over the air. The whole industry was watching as they won in a Pennsylvania court, but this decision was overturned and the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal '40, probably a bad decision (see ASCAP, James Petrillo, Big Band Era), because the record companies were caught in the middle, and the decision led to the rise of the disc jockey and the end of live music on the radio.
Meanwhile Waring aimed squarely at a family audience with a glee-club style. He performed at the New York World's Fair '40, on Broadway in Laffing Room Only '45, cartoon film Melody Time '48; hits with Bing Crosby incl. 'Whiffenpoof Song' '47, Tom's song 'Way Back Home' '49; first band to have own TV show '49. Less touring and recording '50--70, had businesses interests: workshop for glee-club directors, published band and choral arrangements, monthly Music Journal, 600-acre Shawnee Inn; the Waring Corp. made the Waring blender, a food- processing machine for the home that he invented '37. Waring made absolutely no mark on music history, but knew what middle America wanted: he said '66 'We don't sing music, we sing songs', whatever that meant. Last public appearance at Reagan inauguration '81. LPs incl. Fred Waring In Hi Fi c'55 on Capitol, America I Hear You Singing and White Christmas '64 on Reprise with Crosby and Frank Sinatra, The Memorial Album on Stash (compilation of '20s stuff).