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Best known to Space Age Pop fans for his cover mention on Jackie Gleason's album, Oooo!, Artie Malvin was a veteran singer, vocal contractor, arranger, and composer. He got his start as a boy singer with Claude Thornhill's early big band, and also worked in radio and theater in New York City before joining the Army Air Corps in 1942.
This turned out to be a lucky break, for Malvin was soon recruited by Major Glenn Miller, newly commissioned and forming a uniformed version of his highly successful big band. Malvin became one of the Crew Chiefs, the male quartet that Miller used on virtually all his vocal numbers. Malvin's baritone was only occasionally featured as the solo, but any part in the Crew Chiefs ensured his celebrity among big band fans. When he was discharged in 1946, his time with the Miller band gave him platinum credentials in the business studio scene in New York City.
Most of Malvin's work as a session musician, of course, remains uncredited, but his name pops up now and again across the musical landscape of pop recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. He and Ray Charles (the OTHER Ray Charles) sang together on the studio albums of "Flower Drum Song" and several other musicals. He and his "Carolers" cut a Christmas album with Wurlitzer wrangler Sy Mann, and, like Marty Gold, he did a few stints at the lead of a pack of kid singers (his "Singalong Chorus") for one of the less saccharine series of kids' records.
He took part in at least one #1 hit, "So Rare" by Jimmy Dorsey, which benefited significantly from its release just five days after Dorsey's death. And he holds the dubious distinction of being one of the first studio musicians to cover rock and roll hits. At the helm of such fictitious groups as the Brigadiers, the Rhythm Rockets, and the Zig Zags, he knocked off "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," "Rock Around the Clock," "Ain't That a Shame," and "Long Tall Sally"--winning a small piece of the growing rock market for labels reluctant to hire the genuine article while it still looked to be a fad.
Malvin also had a long career as a jingle singer. He sang hundreds of radio and television jingles, including Blue Bonnet Margarine, Kent Cigarettes, Noxema, Labatts Beer, White Rose Tea, and Good Humor Ice Cream, throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
He started doing some songwriting in the mid-1950s, and moved from performing to composing and arranging over the next two decades. His first work in television in New York was as one of the “Lucky Strike’s Your Hit Parade” singers, but he then began writing vocal arrangements and special musical material for the “Julius LaRosa Show” and “The Pat Boone Chevy Showcase” series in the late 1950s.
He moved to Los Angeles, the new hub of the studio world, in 1966, and worked on a wide variety of series and specials. He picked up an Emmy nomination in 1967 for his work on a Frank Sinatra special starring Ella Fitzgerald and Antonio Carlos Jobim. He wrote special musical material on the great "Carol Burnett Show" of the 1970s, and won two Emmys, including one in 1978 for his music for one of the show's best mini-musicals, "Hi Hat," a parody of Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire musicals like Top Hat.
He closed out the 1970s by putting together the music--a combination of standards and original numbers--for the Mickey Rooney-Ann Miller revue, "Sugar Babies," for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. The show was one of the most successful of its time, running for over 1,200 performances.
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