Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye

March 13 was the natal dal of big bandleader Sammy Kaye (Samuel Zarnocay, 1910-1987).

Kaye played clarinet and sax, and started his first band Sammy’s Hot Peppers in his small town Ohio high school in the ’20s. He then attended Ohio University where he organized Kaye’s Ohioans. From thence to Cleveland upon graduation, where his band played ballrooms and nightclubs, performed on radio, and started cutting records. Kaye’s1937 hit “Swing and Sway” became his catchphrase. He moved to New York the following year, where he was featured on NBC’s Sunday Serenade radio show through 1950, and scored dozens of top 20 singles, such as “Remember Pearl Harbor” (1941) and “Harbor Lights” (1950). Throughout the 1950s, Kaye hosted his own television programs: The Sammy Kaye Show (1951-53, CBS and NBC), So You Want to Lead a Band (1954-55), and Sammy Kaye’s Music from Manhattan (1958-59).

By the mid ’50s, rock and roll had bumped music like Kaye’s off the pop charts, but he countinued to tour with his band and perform live until shortly before his death in 1987. He was one of the last of the original big band leaders to do so.

To learn more about varienty entertainment, including TV variety shows like Sammy Kaye’s, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous.