Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

BLEYER, Archie

(b 12 June 1909, Corona NY; d 20 March 1989, Sheboygan WI) Arranger, bandleader. One of the best-known writers of stock arrangements for music publishers, he wrote hot arrangements as well, and young musicians like Buck Clayton found them challenging: playing in a dance hall, Clayton wrote many years later, 'I could see then that I had a lot to learn. ''Business In F'' and ''Business in Q'' ... used to hang me every night.'
      Bleyer led his own dance bands e.g. at Earl Carroll's Club in Hollywood in the late '30s, and recorded for Vocalion. He arranged and conducted for shows, and became famous in the late '40s and 1950s as Arthur Godfrey's music director on popular radio and TV shows, and led the band on Godfrey's novelty records.
      He formed the Cadence pop label in 1953, at first to record Julius LaRosa, also a regular on the Godfrey show, and later the Chordettes from the show. Godfrey famously fired LaRosa on the air in October '53 and a few days later fired Bleyer (see LaRosa's entry for that story). The following month Bleyer and LaRosa had one of the biggest hits of the year with 'Eh, Cumpari', a charming novelty that you couldn't get away from. Bleyer's own top 40 hits included 'Hernando's Hideaway' (from Damn Yankees), 'The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane' '54, clever arrangements in first-class recorded sound. The label continued to have huge hits with the Everly Brothers, Andy Williams, and a seminal rock single, 'Rumble' by guitarist Link Wray. Bleyer married Janet Ertel, one of the Chordettes, who were from Sheboygan.    
      A subsidiary label, Candid, was started in 1960 for jazz and blues with Nat Hentoff in charge, recording Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Booker Ervin, Cecil Taylor, Otis Spann, Lightnin' Hopkins, Abbey Lincoln etc. Candid only lasted a couple of years. In late 1962 Cadence released its biggest hit of all, the comedy album called The First Family, by Vaughn Meader, sending up the Kennedys: it was no. 1 in the Billboard album chart for three months and stayed in the chart for nearly a year, until the assassination. After the Everlys and Andy Williams had left Cadence, Bleyer closed it in 1964, retired to Wisconsin and sold it all to Williams, who formed his own Barnaby label.  
      Candid Productions (owned in the 1990s by the British producer Alan Bates) reissued some of the Bleyer Candids and recorded new ones by Donald Harrison, Claudio Roditi etc, and reissued items from the Choice label from NYC in the 1970s.