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
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
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
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."