I've seen video clips from time to time of the former "Rifleman" co-star with his dance band. Now he is putting out a CD. Full announcement after the jump.
Here's the release:
Recording artist, orchestra leader, actor and former child star, Johnny Crawford, is releasing a new album for the first time in more than 40 years with a genre of music that has been dancing through his veins and putting a skip in his step for decades. After 17 years of entertaining audiences with live performances, The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra’s first album, “Sweepin’ the Clouds Away” (TRT: 51:35; $14.97) will go into wide release on Tuesday, May 19 to bring early 20th century dance band music back into the spotlight.
“Sweepin’ the Clouds Away,” a Crawford Music release, is an album incorporating 15 authentic dance band orchestrations of romantic and uplifting songs from the 1920s and 1930s; the type of songs that provided inspiration and emotional escape during the Great Depression. Crawford, the director and vocalist for the orchestra, says the release of this album comes at a perfect time to help brighten people’s spirits during the current economic downturn.
“Instead of focusing on hardships, this music is about romance and enjoying life,” says Crawford. “I like to call it vintage dance music to sweeten the season.”
The CD itself features a 1932 photograph of actress, Jean Harlow, driving a new Packard convertible with her hair blowing in the wind. Crawford believes this photo perfectly captures the spirit of the album and the title song, “Sweepin’ the Clouds Away,” by Sam Coslow.
The recordings were made during live performances at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in the Gold Room of the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel, an authentic and historic 1920s dance band venue.
“Sweepin’ the Clouds Away” features music by Duke Ellington, Sam Coslow, Jerome Kern, Richard Rogers, Harry Warren, Richard Whiting, Harry Revel, Ralph Rainger, Harry Barris, Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Johnson, Fred Ahlert, Rube Bloom and E.A. Swan.
“When we play a song by one of these great composers, I enjoy hearing the melody, the harmonies and the original chord changes as they were first presented,” explains Crawford. “These arrangements were written by real craftsmen, orchestrators who were employed by the music publishers, so new compositions could be promoted to their best advantage through the many dance bands that would play them in ballrooms, restaurants and hotel dining rooms. No matter where you were, it must have seemed there was always a dance band nearby playing this magical music. Those unique times, rich in so many ways, deserve to be cherished and revisited.”
Crawford’s music career began in 1955 as one of the original Mouseketeers on Walt Disney’s popular Mickey Mouse Club. He became famous for his role as Chuck Connors’ son, Mark McCain, in “The Rifleman” for which he received an Emmy® nomination in 1959 as Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series.
Recording for Del-Fi Records in the 1960s, Crawford had five top 40 hits including “Cindy’s Birthday,” “Rumors,” “Your Nose Is Gonna Grow,” “Proud,” and “Patti Ann.” All together, Crawford’s entertainment career has thus far included more than 200 television episodes, 15 movies and 16 plays. Although the new CD is his seventh career album, it is his first in more than 40 years.
“This album was finally created in response to the many fans who have enjoyed our live performances over the years,” says Crawford. “I’ve been performing these wonderful orchestrations for the last 20 years because I love them, and many other people, young and old, seem to love them as much as I do.”
Crawford credits his grandfather’s spirit and legacy for his lifelong love of the dance band era of music. Robert “Bobby” Crawford (1889-1941) became a “dynamo” song plugger and then vice president of Irvine Berlin’s music publishing company. In 1926 he became the founder and general manager of music publishing giant De Sylva, Brown & Henderson with his office occupying the penthouse of New York’s famous Brill Building (Tin Pan Alley). His passion for the music was passed down to his grandson, inspiring Johnny to collect period arrangements and perform them with his own orchestra.
Johnny’s natural talent and love for this period of music has been on display in his performances for schools, special events, night clubs, theater and film (i.e. “The Thirteenth Floor,” “Hellboy”) that have come about through his company, Crawford Music Services, which he founded in 1992.
“I love singing,” says Crawford, “in the car, in the shower, anywhere really, but especially in front of an 11-piece vintage dance band using these terrific arrangements that have been overlooked for so many years. There are many sensational singers from that era who I admire, including Fred Astaire, Al Bowlly, Dick Powell, Smith Ballew, Buddy Clark, and, of course, Bing Crosby. I’m sure they’ve all influenced my singing, and I think that influence shows through in this album.”
“Sweepin’ the Clouds Away” will be available in stores on Tuesday, May 19. Downloads are available now at iTunes, Amazon.com and CDBaby.com.
About Crawford Music Services (CMS): Hollywood, Calif.-based Crawford Music Services was formed by Johnny Crawford in 1992. Whether a small private function or large corporate extravaganza, one musician or a combination of many, CMS produces unique, quality entertainment that brings class and distinction to all kinds of special events. CMS adapts to party themes and music genres. CMS produces ensembles that cross over between genres of music. The company has an extensive music library, with a large and ever growing collection of orchestrations from many periods of classical and popular music. For more information please visit www.crawfordmusic.com and www.JohnnyCrawford.com