Monroe Turned Down Career

that Finally Claimed Him


In 1933 a young Carnegie Tech sophomore, possessing a baritone voice as big as his six-foot-two frame, pondered the all important question of what road his career was to follow. During the two years that he had been attending Tech, Vaughn Monroe had found his interests divided between two totally unrelated fields--engineering and singing. Should he become an engineer or a concert singer were the two questions that constantly haunted him.

As is often the case in such matters, circumstances beyond his control were the deciding factors. "I had a big frame," says Monroe "and you have to feed that machine regularly to keep going."

So student Monroe turned his back on both engineering and concert singing. Having worked his way through high school and two years of college as a trumpet player in small bands, it was not unusual, therefore, that he relied on his horn as a means of earning a livelihood.

His first job on leaving school was with Austin Wiley's band, followed by a stint with Larry Funk and finally with Jack Marshard and his Boston society orchestra. Happily for him, he was able to keep up with his singing, for with all three groups he handled the vocals.

Eventually, after settling down in Boston, he studied voice at the New England conservatory of Music during his spare time off the bandstand.

In 1941, at the insistence of his present managers, Jack Marshard and Willard Alexander, Vaughn finally organized his own band. "When I was having the arrangements written for the new band,"  the maestro often likes to recall, "memories of Carnegie Tech and my dreams of one day being a Met baritone used to come back to me. So, just for kicks, I had the arranger do a job on Pagliacci."

The first time Vaughn performed the song it was such an immediate success that he took the cue from the public and had several other similar numbers scored in dance tempo with vocal choruses. Soon, because of the increasing requests for these numbers, Monroe began to stand out as a singer with a rich, vibrant voice, a voice with "hair on its chest."


Testimony of his success as a singing bandleader are the millions of RCA-Victor records that are bought each year by the many Monroe fans.

"So," says Monroe, "I became a baritone after all, but not at the Met."