With a smooth singing style that saw him nicknamed “The Velvet Fog” (or Frog to those who deemed him a mere lounge singer), Mel Torme never enjoyed the mass appeal of contemporaries such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. However he was much more than a mere crooner, as a pair of Grammy Awards attest. He was born today in 1925.
Melvin Howard Torme born aka Mel Torme, was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Torme was a man of many talents: drummer, singer, composer, arranger, lyricist, writer, novelist, critic and actor. However he’s remembered principally for his vocal work – not least a 1949 US chart-topper, (“Careless Love”).
A child actor who served his time fronting big bands, Torme would veer towards mainstream material at times and was no stranger to the ‘Great American Songbook.’ Forming his band The Mel Tones in 1944, they teamed up with bandleader Artie Shaw and scored a hit with a version of, “What is This Thing Called Love?“
Forging a successful solo career in the following decade, Torme also hosted a TV talkshow but by the 1960s had experienced a downturn in fortunes that ill-advised covers of contemporary hits by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel did nothing to arrest.
The 1970s saw Mel successfully return to his jazz roots and he recorded a series of albums with pianist George Shearing while continuing to be a well-regarded live act on the Las Vegas/Lake Tahoe/Atlantic City lounge circuit.
Carrying off the Best Male Jazz Vocal Grammy in both 1982 and 1983, Mel died in 1999 after suffering two strokes. He was 73.
Count Basie once said of him, “The way Mel sings, he should have been black”, while Torme himself once reckoned that, “there are some marvellous singers; and if I can just be considered to be one of the good ones, I’m happy.”
Check out and purchase Mel Torme CDs from our e-shop, Propermusic.com by clicking on the logo below:
And here’s some footage of Mel in action: