Screen Album
Fall 1943

START chopping said Bing! Al Rinker let his right hand flea-hop across the keys while his left hammered a Beal St. beat. Bing stood beside the piano manning cymbals and drum. Together they sang, only it wasn’t singing; it was a sort of delirium in rhythm. And when things got wilder and bluer than they ought, Bing leaned over and whispered, “The text, brother, the text!” Which meant, “Now do it like it says.” Only they couldn’t; not for long, anyway, because they were scat-singers in their bones, and the music was like a plank you walked out on and then jumped off and you were on your own.

The audience wriggled in their seats, looked bewildered but ecstatic. This was new! This was what New York jazz had never been! Paul Whiteman had been hearing it throughout the South, recognized a TREND, and carted the two boys back to prove it. To Harry Barris, bandman, the stuff was way up there with Gabriel, and he wanted to help make it. So there were three of them now, and they called themselves The Rhythm Boys. Not so long ago, The Rhythm Boys were corralled by Whiteman to air one of their original routines. Al and Harry got $250 each; Bing got $5000 and split it even. “Dough I got plenty of,” he shrugs. Enough for a new house with half dozen acres around it, a ranch in Nevada, horses in Mexico. Take just the dough from Decca disks alone. Staggering, even though the money from religious records goes straight to charity. Maybe having enough . . . not having to worry . . . is what gives Bing his satin glide. Watch him rehearsing a radio show with the script in one hand and a racing form in the other. “Hey, Iturbi, how’s for knocking out a morsel of Bach while the guys warm up their sweet potatoes?” Or watch him and Hope dreaming up a little horseplay on the set. “We tizzied things up a mite,” he tells the director. And what comes out is truly solid!”