On August 10, 2013, female pop vocalist Eydie Gorme passed away at age 84. Who will be her replacement on this old earth? Don’t hold your breath! My introduction to Ms. Gorme occurred many, many years ago – around 1955 when I was a young teenager. I recall watching an early-TV, person-to-person interview program featuring two “new finds” in the then-burgeoning music and recording industry. The program host visited the homes of two up-and-coming young stars to visit with them and to introduce them to the TV audience (in small-screen black and white, of course).
The first newbie was a fellow by the name of Andy Williams. You probably remember him. The second was a young, fresh-faced Eydie Gorme. The interviews held my attention even as a youngster. It seems like only yesterday that I first heard of those two fine artists that evening in front of the family television, but much water has passed under the bridge since that time. Needless to say, millions of us became very familiar with their talent and their careers over the ensuing decades. Andy Williams left his mark with many memorable hits and recording milestones. He truly was one of the best.
I have always considered Eydie Gorme as THE best – the best female vocalist of recent times. Her melodious musicality seemed to originate from some other-worldly instrument and not from a mere human voice-box. Her vocals were completely free and effortless, pitch-perfect with tremendous vocal range …and power. Her singing featured all of this plus the perfect diction of a Julie Andrews. She could sing loudly, and she did; she could sing softly, too, and she did. Always she sang wonderfully, imbuing her sparkling vocals with her personal style.
She got her first big television break on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1953/54. I believe that was the forerunner of the eventual “Tonight” show. Does anyone recall Steve Allen, a pretty fair entertainer/musician in his own right?
At times, Eydie’s vocal power and the purity of her intonation could make my ears resonate – Ethyl Merman, the Broadway belter had nothing on her – and I would need to turn down the volume. I sometimes wished she sang more in her low-key intimate voice which was so, so fine. All told, I have never heard a female pop vocalist blessed with the polished array of gifts which she brought to bear in every performance.
One of our all-time favorite show tickets was the evening many years ago when Linda and I saw Eydie and her husband / co-star Steve Lawrence perform together live at the nearby Circle Star Theatre. At the time, their careers were in high-gear. Steve Lawrence was, himself, one heck of a vocalist – one of the best. Put them together on stage and you had one big bundle of talent and one great show. Ironically, one of our other favorite live tickets was the evening we saw Andy Williams perform at the very same theatre – also long ago.
The “Other” Great Vocalist and Eydie
A telling endorsement of Eydie’s talent came from no less an authority than Helen Forrest who defined the female vocalist’s art while singing with the great big bands in the thirties and forties. Helen was featured with the best – Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, and ultimately, Harry James – her big break. She set the standard for female vocalists during those years and for long afterward.
Both she and Eydie came from New York with Jewish backgrounds. They were similar in build/appearance and both top their categories on my list of the best. Helen Forrest wrote an interesting autobiography called I Had the Craziest Dream – named after her great recording hit with Harry James. In the book and later in life, she cites Eydie Gorme as one of her favorite female singers – a case of great talent acknowledging great talent.
Take a Listen to Eydie
If you are younger and perhaps not familiar with the voice of Eydie Gorme, spend a buck and download a song (Recommended: Impossible or Fly Me to the Moon), or better yet purchase an online album or a CD. The musical styles of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s may not be your bag if you are young, but you will surely hear and appreciate what we used to call “pure musical talent” back in those days.
As well-known and appreciated as Eydie was during her long career, I always felt she was somewhat overlooked and her talent definitely under-rated, very likely because she stuck to her musical guns and resisted the demands that fame always attempts to impose.
We will miss you Eydie; please send us a replacement…if there is one.