My gosh I hope there's some mechanism at play (at work?) to compendiumize
all these great and detailed conversations about recording history on
On Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 6:03 PM, Dennis M Spragg <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Any discs with BBC labels on them that you would have seen at the Library
> of Congress Sound Lab in the 1970s were definitely not the OWI "Music From
> America" programs.
> The OWI operated ABSIE (The American Broadcasting Station in Europe) in
> London which was their European Service Headquarters. During October 1944
> and November 1944, Major Glenn Miller and the American Band of the AEF (as
> it was rebranded following transfer to the ETO) recorded at least eight
> programs for ABSIE in the German language for broadcast over ABSIE. The
> programs were used for the ABSIE "Wehrmacht Hour" broadcast and targeted
> to German service personnel. They were recorded at Abbey Road Studios
> using EMI discs and were later fully cataloged in the EMI vaults. We have
> copies of the original paperwork and session sheets for the EMI discs that
> were made. Most of six programs exist from copies made of the EMI discs
> and circulated as early as the early 1950s in the United Kingdom. Alan
> Mandell (Alan Dell) had obtained one of the (unauthorized) copies and thus
> the also misleadingly titled "Lost Recordings" issue that was put out
> first by Conifer and later acquired by BMG. Again, these issues came from
> Mandell's copy of the original discs. At the time of the ABSIE
> recordings, first-generation disc copies of the 10" EMI masters were flown
> to the United States for broadcast over the leased OWI transmitters.
> Those copies were broadcast by the OWI from over here. Sort of a reverse
> lend-lease. These copies remain today in the United States and are
> superior to what Mandell, et. al. obtained and were later released. We
> have the detailed broadcast dates and times in our files. Again, these
> are EMI-produced discs. The orchestra performs as normal with Miller
> reading from a German-language script and being led by a native German
> speaking OWI female announcer. Ballads are performed by Sgt. Johnny
> Desmond in the German language.
> Please do not confuse these recordings with the OWI "Music from America"
> discs which were produced and duplicated by NBC, New York, not the BBC.
> ABSIE also recorded Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Marlene Dietrich, Morton
> Downey, Fred Astaire, Spike Jones and his City Slickers, M1C Sam Donahue
> and the US Navy Dance Band, the Washington, DC AAF Band conducted by Capt.
> George Howard and others for the "Wehrmacht Hour" while they were on tours
> in the ETO. Dietrich had zero problems of course with the German language
> introductions. This appears to have been the source for German service
> personnel calling Bing "Der Bingle". There is no known evidence of what
> they thought of Spike Jones and his City Slickers or if they performed
> "Der Fuehrer's Face", which most likely they certainly did not.
> Any discs including Major Miller and his ABAEF before or following his
> disappearance with a BBC label on them are performances recorded for
> broadcast by the SHAEF "Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme" (AEFP),
> which was technically operated for SHAEF as the BBC Violet Network by
> mostly BBC engineers and originally using one of the BBC Start Point
> transmitters. Major Miller insisted on being able to record broadcasts so
> that he and his men could travel around and perform concerts for air base
> and other allied personnel. To this point, BBC were against recorded
> broadcasts and favored live performances only. Later, when Miller's
> orchestra was being transferred to the then-under construction AEFP
> "Forward" studios in Paris, he was able to lean on EMI for discs to fill a
> six-week schedule of broadcasts by the full orchestra and its sub-units to
> fill the gap if transmission lines were not available from France to
> BBC-London for their regular broadcasts. Staffing AEFP was the reason
> that gen. Dwight Eisenhower requested the Miller AAFTC Orchestra from Gen.
> H. H. Arnold and the Army Air Forces. The AAF "loaned" the Miller unit
> to SHAEF and never gave up formal custody of it.
> Please do not confuse AEFP/BBC discs with the OWI "Music from America"
> series and discs, either.
> AEFP recordings were passed to AFN-London for broadcast over AFN as well.
> AFRS discs flown to the UK and used by AFN were passed to AEFP for
> broadcast as well. The program content of AEFP was supposed to be
> representative of the percentage of American, British and Canadian forces
> within SHAEF's command. AFN relied upon AFRS for programming but
> pre-dated AFRS and operated as a semi-autonomous organization to the end
> of the war in Europe and beyond. Most of the AEFP programming ended up
> being American and included AFRS transcription discs of the AFRS original
> productions and off-network programs. AEFP produced their own programs,
> including the utilization of three "house" bands, the American Band of the
> AEF (Miller), The British Band of the AEF (RSM George Melachrino) and the
> Canadian Band of the AEF (Capt. Bob Farnon). AEFP hosts and announcers
> were American, British and Canadian, including mainly female British
> announcers during breaks and for introductions. We have an AEFP audience
> research study from January 1945 which shows that the American forces
> wanted only American programs but the British and Canadian forces wanted
> their own programs and American programs. The British civilian audience,
> who could received AEFP in and around southeast England and London,
> particularly younger people, favored AEFP over the BBC which certainly had
> an affect on the BBC. The AEFP signal was readily available whereas AFN
> was restricted to 250 watt transmitters around bases and not generally
> heard by the British public.
> As far as union agreements, once program discs got into the field content
> did indeed overlap. As I also mentioned, OWI circulated many programs
> during 1942 and 1943 for the fledgling SSD (Special Services Division) and
> the AFRS (as rebranded in November 1943). SSD and then AFRS chief Lt. Co.
> Thomas H. A. Lewis knew from the get-go in May 1942 that he could not rely
> on shortwave transmissions and developed the now famous 16 inch
> transcription disc program of original AFRS content and off-network
> programs which were distributed worldwide from Los Angeles. However,
> until mid-1944 at minimum, programs such as "Uncle Sam Presents" were
> recorded at NBC, aired by OWI but broadcast to allied service personnel.
> These discs were passed from OWI to SSD/AFRS where the latter had
> facilities, such as those commanded by Maj. Andre Baruch in North Africa.
> There was indeed sharing that occurred in the field and no one ever
> complained so far as extant documentation demonstrates.
> As you very correctly point out, the OWI Foreign Division indeed had a
> distinct and separate mission from the United States Armed Forces radio
> mission, in short, foreign audiences as opposed to allied, mainly
> American, military personnel. Carrying the message of the United States
> as "the Voice of America" was certainly different from bringing service
> personnel a touch of home to each and every air base, ship or forward
> ground unit and everyone in between. AFRS Los Angeles did not receive
> copies of the designated OWI recordings made by NBC. However, overseas
> stations run by AFRS and AFN personnel definitely did have them passed to
> them. The music-only discs were not inappropriate to the military mission
> and in some cases were used for expediency until the AFRS Basic Music
> Libraries became widely circulated. Stations all over the planet certainly
> had to improvise!
> When Major Miller disappeared December 15, 1944, the pre-recorded ABSIE
> German language programs along with pre-recorded AEFP ABAEF programs were
> on the air with Miller's voice included. This presented a touchy
> situation for SHAEF and the BBC as the Eighth Air Force went about trying
> to ascertain what happened to the VIII AF Service Command aircraft that
> Miller was aboard. Upon the public announcement that Miller was missing,
> AEFP edited out his voice as best they could substituting Sgt. Keith
> Jameson (formerly of WMAL, Washington). Due to the nature of the
> programs, ABSIE was not able to fit out Miller's terse and stumbling
> German language voice overs and did not air programs 7 and 8. They
> substituted other pre-recorded items featuring different artists.
> Therefore, in addition to the series that I detailed in my previous
> message, please add the following:
> ABSIE (OWI) "WEHRMACHT HOUR" RECORDING SESSIONS
> Programs 1-6 (7-8 withheld)
> OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 1944
> EMI ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS
> LONDON, ENGLAND
> AEFP (BBC VIOLET) - VARIOUS PROGRAM RECORDINGS FOR BROADCAST
> "THE AMERICAN BAND OF THE AEF" ("MOONLIGHT SERENADE") (full band led by
> Maj. A. G. Miller)
> "THE SWING SHIFT" ("AMERICAN DANCE BAND") (no strings led by Sgt. Ray
> "UPTOWN HALL" ("SWING SEXTETTE") (small groups led by Sgt. Mel Powell)
> "STRINGS WITH WINGS" (strings only led by Sgt. George Ockner)
> "SONGS BY SGT. JOHNNY DESMOND ("A SOLDIER AND A SONG") (full band or
> strings with vocals)
> "PIANO PARADE" (solos by Pvy. Jack Russin)
> The ABAEF kept a very busy schedule. Following Miller's disappearance the
> ABAEF program was conducted by Sgt. Jerry Gray.
> It would be very helpful to learn what original discs you saw at the
> Library of Congress Recording Lab in the 1970s.
> Dennis M. Spragg
> Glenn Miller Archive
> University of Colorado Boulder
> On 6/12/12 4:16 PM, "Gray, Mike" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >As I recall, the original discs were recorded by the BBC - and I also
> >recall seeing the originals in the Library of Congress Recording Lab in
> >the 1970s. BTW, I very much doubt that the AFRS would have obtained
> >copies of
> >the recordings from OWI - for one thing, the each organization's
> >contracts with unions and performers and other parties defined the rights
> >and assumed audiences, which did not overlap.
> >Mike Gray