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Back in the 20s through the mid 50s, bandleaders often made records. Although the bandleader got credit for the record most of them never sang on any of the records they made. They would produce the record and decide how it would sound. They would direct the recording and oversee all aspects of the record.

They would often used "guests" for their recordings. Jo Stafford and Frank Sinatra who went on to be great recording artists in their own right started out with Tommy Dorsey among others. So when you see Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw had a hit record you can bet they didn't sing on it. Some bands continued to play under the leaders name after he died.

Bandleaders generally performed in large urban hotels and fancy nightclubs, like The Palace Hotel in San Francisco and Rainbow Room in New York City. In addition they often provided music for radio shows, to maximize their exposure. Some such as Artie Shaw and Ray Noble in addition to providing music acted in the radio scripts.

Artie Shaw was probably the most famous known for his eight marriages including the beautiful actresses Lana Turner and Eva Gardner. Of course Glenn Miller is known best as being missing. The plane he was flying in disappeared in World War II. To this day some insist he was on a mission for the United States government and it is part of a cover up.

These were among the biggest bandleaders of the time. In parenthesis are the instruments they are noted for.
  1. Paul Whiteman (violin)
  2. Ray Noble (piano)
  3. Benny Goodman (clarinet)
  4. Artie Shaw (clarinet)
  5. Guy Lombardo (violin)
  6. Paul Weston (piano)
  7. Tommy Dorsey (trombone)
  8. Glen Miller (trombone)
  9. Meredith Wilson (Flute)

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