60s Music

Introduction to Snooky Lanson

Introduction

Snooky Lanson
Snooky Lanson. (Source: Wikipedia)

Snooky Lanson was a Tennessee-born singer popular as one of the co-stars of the musical variety show Your Hit Parade during the 1950s. He started his career as a singer on a local radio show in Nashville, and then moved on to perform in big bands such as the Ray Noble Orchestra and the Ted Weems Orchestra. Lanson’s highest charting single was “The Old Master Painter” in 1949. He joinedYour Hit Parade as a replacement to Frank Sinatra in 1950. He would be performing there for the next 7 years. After Parade, Lanson went on performing, at local clubs and local TV shows. Lanson also appeared as one of the sometime hosts of Five-Star Jubilee, an NBC-produced TV show. Lanson passed away in 1990, aged 76.

Early life and career

The man who would be the vocalist Snooky Lanson was born Roy Landman on March 27, 1914 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Little is known about Lanson’s early life, except that he was given the nickname “Snooky” (for unknown reasons) during his childhood. He would adopt it as his professional moniker in the future.

Snooky Lanson’s music career began in 1934 when he sang for the local WSM radio in Nashville. Then he moved on to sing for big bands and orchestras of Francis Craig, Ted Weem and Ray Noble. In Ted Weem’s band, it included pianist Owen Bradley who would be later known as one of the pioneers of the “Nashville sound.”

Frequenting the Soundies days

Before MTV, there were “Soundies” — three-minute musical films complete with dance sequences and (many of them) comic sketches. They used to be viewed on coin-operated jukeboxes. These Soundies became the “music video” from the early to mid 1940s. Lanson became a part of that era when he appeared in a handful of Soundies productions. Initially, he and Noble appeared together on many Soundies short films, and later he made more Soundies as a solo artist.

Early recording career

In late 1948, Lanson released a single called “(I’m Gonna Get You) On a Slow Boat to China” which would be his first charting single. It peaked at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. The following year he scored another hit with “The Old Master Painter” which became his highest-charting single ever in his recording career, barely missing the top 10 on the pop charts (it peaked at #12).

Stint at “Your Hit Parade”

In 1950, Lanson got his big break when he was chosen to star on the TV musical variety show Your Hit Parade. Lanson came to replace Frank Sinatra, who had just left the show, and was to star on it together with actress/singer Dorothy Collins. He went on to enjoy considerable popularity thanks to that show, where he remained a mainstay for about the next seven years.

In 1955, Lanson went on the enjoy a couple of more hits on the Hot 100 charts, both released on Dot label. The first was “Why Don’t You Write Me” which peaked at #30, and “It’s Almost Tomorrow” at #20.

Later life and career

Apart from Your Hit Parade Lanson also hosted his own 15-minute TV variety show in the summer of 1956. After his tenure on Your Hit Parade, Lanson moved to successfully performed at nightclubs. To help augment his income, Lanson also hosted his own local TV show in Atlanta, Georgia and Shreveport, Louisiana. He also had practical day jobs working as a sales rep for a car dealership in Nashville, and by also working in outdoor advertising. In the 1970s, Lanson got a job of hosting a syndicated radio show that featured big-band music. He also appeared as one of the sometime hosts of Five-Star Jubilee, an NBC-produced TV show.

On July 2, 1990, Lanson died of lung cancer. He was 76 years old. Some sources state that he died in New York City, New York, while others cite that he died in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

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