Rosemary Clooney's Rare 1955-1960 Recordings Released

Friday, 08 August 2014 07:45 AM Written by 

Anyone who knows even a little about George Clooney is probably aware of his dad, Nick and his aunt Rosmary (1928-2002). She emerged as of the biggest pop music stars of the early 50's in the days just before rock and roll exploded.  Her early solo hits, "Come On-A My House," * (1951), "Hey There" (1954), "Tenderly"  (1952),  the country ballad "Half As Much" (1952) and "Mambo Italiano" (1954) were a mix of quality material and gimmicky numbers selected for her by Columbia Records pop producer Mitch Miller (later responsible for the unlistenable "Sing Along With Mitch" albums and TV show). 

Clooney's admirers included everyone from her buddy Bing Crosby, who became her professional mentor (they co-starred in the 1954 film White Christmas), to Linda Ronstadt.  She was the former wife of actor-director Jose Ferrer and the mother of Miguel Ferrer, known for many TV roles including his current role of Assistant Director Owen Granger on NCIS Los Angeles. 

Her journey, despite a mansion in Beverly Hills, wasn't always easy. She had drug problems and a total emotional breakdown in the 60's that took her years to overcome.  When she did, however, she  rededicated herself to jazz and made a powerful comeback on records and stage that continued until just before her death.

From 1955-1961, Clooney did another set of recordings for CBS, not with orchestras, but with a small Hollywood studio band, recorded for radio broadcast only.  A handful of songs ended up on an LP but most haven't been heard since they were broadcast.  Mosaic Records, known for detailed and exhaustive jazz collections, recently released all 104 songs in five CD's as The Rosemary Clooney CBS Radio Recordings 1955-61.  The set comes complete with a booklet including rare photos, complete recording session info (dates, musicians, songs, etc.) and notes by James Gavin.  The music sticks mostly to pop standards, but the performances have the kind of intimacy that wasn't always there when she worked with full pop orchestration. 

More information and audio clips on the Mosaic collection can be found here.

 

This 1960 TV appearance gives an idea of the Bing-Rosie rapport:

 

* written by novelist William Saroyan and his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian, better known as "David Seville," creator of the Chipmunks.

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