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The Unforgettable Voice

Vaughn Monroe

If you lived through the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s and you ever heard a young band leader from Wisconsin sing songs entitled, “In the Still of the Night,” “Racing With the Moon,” “There I’ve Said It Again,” “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” “Dance Ballerina, Dance,” “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” or “Sound Off,” then you are remembering Vaughn Monroe.

In an era when guys took their gals to dance to the latest music, they would assemble outfitted in tuxedos and ball gowns, in civic auditoriums, hotel ballrooms and sometimes, in the Deep South, in tobacco warehouses.

They would listen and dance at one-night gigs of the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra – a twenty-two piece band with strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. The voice of Monroe was the big draw, but after 1946 vocal accompaniment was added by a college choral group that Monroe hired out of North Texas University.

The “Moonmaids” debuted with Monroe and his orchestra on April 11, 1946, at Loews Theater in Washington, D.C.

Monroe was hardly a matinee idol. He was lanky, over six-feet tall, with a receding hairline and a croocked nose; his wardrobe was stylish, but he was seldom without a skinny bowtie that seemed to wilt to one side or the other. Nevertheless, on his plus side, he had a voice that charmed the angels.

For most of his professional life Monroe was associated with the Radio Corporation of America’s Victor Division which was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. Early on, his recording contracts made him a wealthy man and later in life as a spokesman and member of the corporate executive board he virtually had control of the company until his death in 1973.

In 1945, RCA had a sixteen postcard set created that featured their most popular recording artists. The card shown here is an example. The following checklist will be helpful if you decide to collect these cards.

Victor Recording Artist Set

  • Perry Como
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Duke Ellington
  • Lena Horne
  • Spike Jones
  • Sammy Kaye
  • The King Sisters
  • Freddy Martin
  • Hal McIntyre
  • Glenn Miller
  • “Fats” Waller
  • Vaughn Monroe
  • David Rose
  • Artie Shaw
  • Dinah Shore
  • Charlie Spivak
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I heard Vaughn Monroe many times in a ballroom at Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio. The sound produced by his big band and the other big bands in the hollow old ballrooms was unbelievable. I tell younger people, that with all the modern sound equipment today they have not been able to capture the beautiful sound of a big band, you truly had to be there. Thank you for the article it brought back many memories.

Interesting how some of the names of the Victor recording artists are still familiar today, while others have been all but forgotten. This song is a classic, but many people know it by versions other than Monroe’s.

I didn’t know that there were postcard sets dedicated to singers from this era. Very good article.

Loved the info about Monroe. I had heard of him, but still have not heard his voice. Will check him out on Youtube. Thanks!

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