Hal McIntyreView in iTunes
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A founding member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra as well as the leader of his own big band, alto saxophonist and clarinetist Hal McIntyre was born November 29, 1914, in Cromwell, Connecticut. By his late teens he was already the veteran of a series of groups and formed his own eight-piece band in 1935, later landing his big break when offered a temporary gig playing alto behind Benny Goodman. The Goodman stint lasted just ten days, but it brought McIntyre to the attention of Miller, and in 1937 he joined the first incarnation of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, remaining with the group for four years. At that point Miller urged McIntyre to form his own band, even offering financial support; billed as "The Band That America Loves," the McIntyre Orchestra debuted at the Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York, in 1941. Featuring vocalists Gloria Van, Ruth Gaylor, and Al Nobel, as well as bassist Eddie Safranski and tenor saxophonist Allen Eager, the band went on to headline venues including New York's Commodore Hotel, Hollywood's Palladium Ballroom, and Chicago's Sherman Hotel. During the war years the group regularly played overseas for U.S. troops as well. McIntyre continued leading the orchestra well into the 1950s (including an appearance backing the Mills Brothers on their 1952 chart-topper "Glow Worm") before its ranks finally splintered; he died in a house fire at his home in Los Angeles on May 5, 1959. ~ Jason Ankeny