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Benny Meroff & His Orchestra

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Biography

b. 1899, USA, d. 1973. A competent exponent of violin, saxophone and clarinet, Meroff’s first professional engagements were in vaudeville. When he decided to form his own dance band in the mid-20s, he managed to recruit some of the top sidemen of the day. At various times these included Norman Hendrickson, Harold White, Gene Gory, Pete Ross, Bill Hughes, Hymie Milrod, Al de Vito, M. Clauberg, Phil Grossi, Wild Bill Davison, Joe Rullo, Joe Quartell, Lenny Cohen, Tony Ciccone, Arnold Pritikin, Al Nillson, George Physter, Bennie Metz, Roy Cole, Al King, Larry Powell, Elmer Eberhardt, Meyer Drumzinsky, Vernon Brown, Jack Marshall, Irving Barnett, Don Ellis, Bill Gollin, Marty Ross, Phil Stevens, Johnny Perrin, Danny Lynch, Al d’Artega, Fred Brown, ‘Mouse’ Powell, ‘Pappy’ Graham, Santo Pecora, Tommy Thomas, Carl Osborne, Rudy Bundy and ‘Red’ Pepper. Given its impetus by Meroff’s engaging personality, the band concentrated on a highly skilled blend of jazz and dance band songs, the best known of which included ‘What’s The Use Of Cryin’?’, ‘Wherever You Go’ and their theme song, ‘Diane’. There was also a strong element of showmanship, with Meroff himself conducting the stage show. The group played predominantly in the Chicago vicinity, and were at their most prolific during the late 20s and early 30s, with releases on the Victor Records, OKeh Records and Columbia Records labels. There were also sporadic trips to New York for theatre and hotel engagements. By the advent of World War II, Meroff had retired the band to pursue other interests.