Bob ManningView in iTunes
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b. Manny Levin, 1 February 1926, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. A highly accomplished, but underrated ballad singer, whose career has probably suffered because his voice bore an uncanny similarity to that of the more popular Dick Haymes. Influenced by the singers and bands of the ‘Swing Era’, Manning sang in Philadelphia hotels and had his own show on a local radio station before joining the newly formed Ziggy Elman outfit in 1947. He then worked for short periods with Art Mooney and Tommy Dorsey, and made an impressive appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts programme. Unable to secure a contract with a major record company, Manning persuaded a friend to finance a recording session, out of which came ‘The Nearness Of You’, a classic performance, and reportedly composer Hoagy Carmichael’s favourite version of his song. It was picked up by Capitol Records, and entered the US Top 20 in 1953. The singer had further success with ‘All I Desire’ and ‘Venus De Milo’, and also released a tasteful collection of standards entitled Lonely Spell. Most of the tracks on that album were re-released in 1994. Like so many other classy singers, Manning was overtaken by the advent of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 50s, and faded into the background.