Thank God for Bing Crosby

I  am not a Bing fan, although I love the films with Bob Hope. They appeal to me today because they remind me of my childhood, watching them on the TV with my parents, laughing and happy. His nice lyrics? His nice clothes? His nice voice? None of these ever did anything for me. White Christmas is horrendous, he was so smug. However, thank God for Bing, he gave us Rock Music.

Let me explain my thinking. I have always liked the idea that we all stand on giants’ shoulders. We build on what went before. The Chinese invented stirrups so that they could control their horses better, the idea of using stirrups moved to North Africa. The stirrup was taken up by the French. The Normans invaded England and in1066 defeated the English king not least because of the control over their horses that their use of stirrups gave them. Forget an arrow in the King Harold’s eye. It was the Chinese that did for King Harold! It is all about connections in time.

The connection between Bing and Rock is Les Paul. In the 40s Les Paul and his trio backed Bing. Les Paul was hugely popular at the time and helped design the ubiquitous guitar that bears his name. Never content with designing one of the 2 most famous guitars in the world Les was not content. He wanted to make his guitar stand out more when he recorded. There was something missing, no depth to the recordings. He learned that the Germans had developed a tape recording machine during WWII. Les Paul wanted one, he wanted to experiment with it. As you can imagine tape recorders were very hard to come by in those days, they were as rare as hens’ teeth Bing found one through his military contacts and gave it to him. Les Paul tested it, experimented and played with it. He studied what he could do with it. He decided that what it needed to give him and Mary Ford more freedom when recording was another recording head on the same machine. No one had ever done that before, no one had even thought about doing it before. He phoned a friend. They drilled holes in the tape recorder, soldered some wires and added the extra recording head. The result was some sublime recordings by Les Paul and Mary Ford. It was the first example of overdubbing ever heard.

Without overdubbing there would be no rock. How do you think Buddy Holly sounded like he did? No Bing Crosby, no overdubbing. No overdubbing, no Les Paul and Mary Ford sound. No Les Paul and Mary Ford sound, no rock and roll sound. No rock and roll sound, no Rock. QED.

Thanks Bing!

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One Response to Thank God for Bing Crosby

  1. [...] multi-tracking, for which we should all be grateful (and by extension to Bing Crosby – read why here). He experimented with echo and effects, he and Mary Ford, his wife, recorded in different rooms of [...]

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