Jimmy Dorsey

Jimmy Dorsey

Original Name James Francis
Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 12 Jun 1957 (aged 53)
Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
Burial Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, USA
Memorial ID 291 · View Source
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Musician, Band Leader. He was overshadowed by his brother Tommy. His famous music career unfolded in three stages: 'The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra' co-led by both brothers; 'The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra' with Jimmy as leader and then once again 'The Fabulous Dorsey Brothers Orchestra' co-led by both brothers. James Francis Dorsey was born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, the first son of Theresa and Thomas Francis Dorsey Sr., 21 months prior to the birth of his famous to be brother Tommy. Both boys were tutored by their father a coal miner. Dorsey Sr. would later become leader of a local band dubbed the 'Elmore Band' performing in the Shenandoah area. He would leave the coal mines to become a music teacher at the local high school. At age seven, Jimmy was playing cornet in his father's band. When but nine, he appeared briefly in a new York theater variety act. He was proficient in the sax, trumpet and clarinet. The family moved briefly to Baltimore and the brothers then age 12 and 13 formed a group called 'Dorsey's Novelty Six' and enamored adults were quick to put the youngsters to work. They even played on a Baltimore radio station, becoming one of the first jazz groups to broadcast live. Leaving Baltimore, the band disbanded. Both brothers worked for Paul Whitman and frequently with many other bands and Orchestras. In the spring of 1934, the Dorsey brothers were reunited with the formation of a band dubbed 'The Dorsey Brothers Band' making their debut at the Sands Point Beach Club on Long Island. The duo soon parted company. Tommy when on to form his own band. Jimmy stayed with the group becoming its leader and assuming the name, 'Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra'. Their estrangement lasted some eighteen years. Jimmy's group went on to enormous popularity and success. His recording in 1940, 'The Breeze and I' racked up some million copies in sales. Others followed: ' Amapola, Green Eyes, Maria Elena, Tangerine and then Besame Mucho.' He and the orchestra appeared in many motion pictures: 'That Girl From Paris, Shall We Dance, The Fleet's In, I Dood It, Lost in a Harem, 4 Jacks and a Jeep and the bio-picture with his brother Tommy,' The Fabulous Dorseys' which was instrumental in reuniting the brothers. With the swing band era winding down and both brothers struggling, the spring of 1953 saw Jimmy and Tommy reconciled and the new band became 'The Fabulous Dorsey's Orchestra.' They had some success particularly in television landing their own popular television program on CBS entitled 'Stage Show.' One episode featured a then unknown performer by the name of Elvis Presley. However, death for both brothers was just around the corner. The partnership lasted a little over two years. Tommy died suddenly in his sleep. Jimmy diagnosed with cancer underwent a major operation and less then six months after his brothers death, he too was gone at the age of 53. Again they were separated, Tommy was buried in Valhalla, New York and Jimmy was interred in the family plot next to his parents in Assumption Cemetery in his hometown Shenandoah. A few days after the death of his brother Tommy, a television special was hosted by Jackie,Gleason, 'A tribute to Tommy Dorsey.' Jimmy took part barely able to function as he was in the late stages of cancer. Scores of musicians and singers affiliated with Tommy took part. The closing poignant remark was left to Gleason barely able to finish: 'I want to say join us again tomorrow night for more music by 'Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra'...However there are no tomorrows left for us with Tommy...Good Night, everybody. There is a state historical marker dedicated to the brothers at Main and Center Street in Shenandoah, the little coal mining town of some 5,000 residents, noting the town as the home to the Dorsey Brothers of Big Band Fame. In 1996, the U.S. Post Office issued a commemorative stamp honoring them for their contributions to American music.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 291
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Jimmy Dorsey (29 Feb 1904–12 Jun 1957), Find a Grave Memorial no. 291, citing Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary Church Cemetery, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .