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Harry Prime

Here's our 5/1/11 special presentaion with 91 year old Harry Prime: 

The following is an article about Harry Prime by Kenn Vitek

Harry PrimeUnfortunately, very little information existed regarding this Excellent Big Band Vocalist who performed from the late forties through the mid-fifties. Those few entries, which were published, relative to this artist, all credited him with superior vocal capability but were devoid of any biographical information and only included very abbreviated discography. Consequently, when record collectors would gather, to discuss various orchestras and their vocalists, Harry Prime was invariably remembered, but no one was able to fill in the blanks and the numerous, "Where Are They Now?" articles and books made no mention or reference of him. Telephone searches yielded nothing.

So, not too long ago, a group of our record collector friends embarked on a quest to find out more about this artist with the so very smooth and clear vocal phrasing. As the weeks went by, in this converging endeavor, one day; we fortuitously learned from a friend, of a friend, of a friend, that Harry Prime was alive and well and living in Eastern Pennsylvania. Then, numerous informative telephone contacts and correspondence with Harry Prime; finally provided the following data, so very long overdue.

  • HARRY PRIME (Preine)
  • Born March 5, 1920 in East Falls, Pa.
  • Excellent big band vocalist of late 40's and 50's.
  • Featured vocalist with the Orchestras of Randy Brooks, Tommy Dorsey, Jack Fina and Ralph Flanagan.

 

As a youngster, appeared and sang in school plays. His mother had musical interests and encouraged his enthusiasm in these endeavors. In the fall of 1944, entered and won a contest at the 400 Club in Washington, D.C. and was offered a week's engagement at the Club. Prime was one of those successful performers who had neither a benefactor nor an Angel furthering his career. Consequently his own vocal talents and exposure accomplished his achievements, in music.

While in New York, he performed regularly on Chesterfield sponsored radio programs from 7:15 to 7:30 PM. In 1946, he joined the Randy Brooks Orchestra and remained with Brooks until the band broke up in Des Moines, Iowa in 1947. While the Brooks Orchestra, primarily featured instrumentals showcasing the trumpet of Brooks, Prime recorded the following tunes:

  • Without Love
  • Strange Love
  • One Love
  • Surrender
  • Lamplight  

Returning to New York, he joined the Jack Fina Orchestra for a four week engagement in the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. With Fina, he recorded the following songs:

  • Golden Earrings
  • So Far
  • Music From Beyond The Moon
  • Song Of New Orleans
  • At The Candlelight Cafe

He remained with the Fina organization, until the conclusion of their engagement at the Chase Hotel in St Louis sometime in late 1947. 

Earlier in his career, Prime had made a demo recording of, "I'll Get By" and "Long Ago And Far Away" which was sent to New York and auditioned by George Marlow, who had contacts with Tommy Dorsey. Fast forwarding now to January 1948, a recording ban was about to be imposed on the record industry by Cesar Petrillo, head of the Musicians Union. As a consequence of this forthcoming ban, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra recorded 42 sides in three weeks time and Prime recorded the following tunes with Dorsey:

  • You Can't Make Money Dreaming
  • Starlight Rendezvous
  • My Gal Is Mine Once More
  • Evelyn
  • Until
  • Where Is The One?  

In 1949, Prime joined the Ralph Flanagan Orchestra, as featured vocalist and remained with the band until 1954. During this time he recorded 65 sides with Flanagan. Some of the most notable are:

  • A Boy from Texas And A Girl From Tennessee
  • Beautiful
  • Dear Hearts And Gentle People
  • Don't Cry Joe
  • Everytime I Fall In Love
  • Farewell Amanda
  • I Don't Know Why
  • I Have Dreamed
  • I Left My Heart In Mississippi
  • I Remember The Cornfields
  • I Should Care
  • If I Had A Magic Carpet
  • I'm Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
  • It All depends On You
  • It's Never Too Late To Pray
  • I've Never Been In Love Before
  • Just One More Chance
  • Mona Lisa
  • My Pretty Girl
  • Nevertheless
  • Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
  • On The little Big Horn
  • People Will Say We're In Love
  • Rag Mop
  • She Wore A Yellow Ribbon
  • Smoke Dreams
  • Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year
  • Tell Me Why
  • The Halls Of Ivy
  • The Wedding Of Lili Marlene
  • There's No One But You
  • There's That Lonely Feeling Again
  • This Is The Night
  • To Me, You Are A Song
  • Twilight Rhapsody
  • Way Back Home
  • What's The Use Of Wond'rin'
  • Whispering Hope
  • White Christmas
  • You're Always There
  • You're Breaking My Heart
  • You're So Understanding

In the years following his tenure with Flanagan, Harry Prime never strayed far from the music business and worked as a Disc Jockey in various cities. Prime has often stated that his idol, as far as big band vocalists were concerned was Bob Eberly of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. It is interesting to note that although Harry Prime was the featured vocalist with the renowned trumpeter, Randy Brooks; Prime's favorite trumpet player was Harry James. As of this writing, January 1, 2004; Prime is still available for performing and recently released a CD featuring his vocalizing.

         

Glenn MillerHarry JamesCab CallowayJimmy DorseyLouie ArmstrongLes Brown with Doris DayFrances LangfordSammy KayeThe Ink SpotsThe ModernairesBing CrosbyTex BenekeTommy DorseyFrank SinatraBob EberlyHelen ForrestRay eberleyKitty KallenBunny BerriganGene KrupaConnie HainesAlvino ReyThe Mills BrothersThe Andrews SistersAnita O'DayKeely SmithBillie EckstineCount_BasieDickHaymesVincent LopezWoody HermanHelen O'Connell