[Dixielandjazz] Jo Stafford - NY TIMES OBIT

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 19 08:03:34 PDT 2008

Quite a few list mates asked for this obit off list and so I am  
posting it. Note the reference to Red Ingle and The Natural Seven  
backing her (Cinderella G. Stump) on "Tim-Tayshun". I guess most of us  
know that list mate Don Ingle is Red's son.
"Tim - Tayshun", plus her later spoofs with hubby Paul Weston were  
very funny. But I think any of us who served in the Armed Forces  
during WW 2 or the Korean "Police Action" remember her for songs that  
made us think of home.
Steve Barbone

NY TIMES - July 18, 2008 - By Stephen Holden
Wistful Singer, Jo Stafford, Is Dead at 90

Jo Stafford, the wistful singing voice of the American home front  
during World War II and the Korean War, died on Wednesday at her home  
in Century City, Calif. She was 90 years old.

The cause of death was congestive heart failure.

A favorite of American servicemen, Ms. Stafford earned the nickname G.  
I. Jo for records in which her pure, nearly vibrato-less voice with  
perfect intonation conveyed steadfast devotion and reassurance with  
delicate understatement.

She was the vocal embodiment of every serviceman’s dream girl  
faithfully tending the home fires while he was overseas. First as a  
member of the Pied Pipers who sang with Tommy Dorsey and accompanied  
the young Frank Sinatra, and later as a soloist, Ms. Stafford enjoyed  
a steady stream of hits from the late 1930’s to the mid-1950’s.

Her biggest hit, “You Belong to Me,” in 1952, sold two million copies.  
Ms. Stafford sang everything from folk songs to novelties to hymns.  
Her gift for hilarious musical parody was first revealed in the 1947  
novelty sensation “Temptation” (“Tim-Tayshun”), a hillbilly spoof  
recorded under the name of Cinderella G. Stump with Red Ingle and the  
Natural Seven. It reached No. 1 on the music charts.

A decade later, a popular party act with which she and her husband,  
the arranger and conductor Paul Weston, amused their friends became a  
secondary comedy career, in which they impersonated Jonathan and  
Darlene Edwards, an excruciatingly inept New Jersey lounge act  
“presented by Jo Stafford and Paul Weston.”

While Mr. Weston played the wrong chords and fudged the rhythm, Ms.  
Stafford sang a half-tone sharp. Mr. Stafford won her only Grammy, for  
best comedy album (“Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris,”) in 1961.  
The records faking the Edwardses, the last of which was a hilariously  
inept 1977 single of “Stayin’ Alive” backed by “I Am Woman,” rank as  
classic pop spoofs alongside those of Spike Jones and Weird Al Yankovic.

But it was as a balladeer crooning standards like “I’ll Be Seeing  
You,” “Haunted Heart,” “All the Things You Are,” and “The Nearness of  
You,” that Ms. Stafford distilled as pure a vocal essence of romantic  
nostalgia as any pop singer of 1940’s and 50’s.

Ms. Stafford was born Jo Elizabeth Stafford in Coalinga, Calif., near  
Fresno and brought up in Long Beach. As a child she studied voice and  
hoped to become an opera singer but because of hard times decided to  
join her older sisters Christine and Pauline in a country-and-western  
singing group, the Stafford Sisters, who performed on the radio in Los  

After the Stafford Sisters broke up, Ms. Stafford, with seven male  
members from two other groups, formed the Pied Pipers, an octet that  
caught the attention of Paul Weston and Axel Stordahl, arrangers for  
the Tommy Dorsey band. Reduced to a quartet, the group joined Dorsey  
and quickly gained fame as the backup singers for the young Frank  

In 1940, the No. 1 hit, “I’ll Never Smile Again” established the  
creamy Dorsey-Sinatra-Pied Pipers sound.

Ms. Stafford recorded her first solo record with Dorsey, “Little Man  
With a Candy Cigar,” in 1942. Her first husband, John Huddleston, whom  
she later divorced, was a singer in the group.

Two years later, she left the band to sign with Capitol Records, the  
new label established by Johnny Mercer and along with Margaret Whiting  
and Peggy Lee was one of its three female pop mainstays. Mr. Weston  
became named Capitol’s musical director and Ms. Stafford’s arranger  
and conductor. They eventually married in 1952. Weston died in 1996.

Ms. Stafford is survived by their son Tim Weston of Topanga, Calif.,  
their daughter Amy Wells of Calabasas, Calif. a younger sister, Betty  
Jane, and four grandchildren.

During the early Capitol years, Ms. Stafford’s USO tours and V-Discs  
(recordings specially made for servicemen) earned her the nickname G.  
I. Jo. In 1945, “Candy,” in which she and Pied Pipers accompanied Mr.  
Mercer went to No. 1.

 From the mid-40’s on, Ms. Stafford was a major radio star, who  
sometimes used her show, “The Chesterfield Supper Club,” to acquaint  
the public with southern Appalachian folk music. She recorded a  
groundbreaking album, “Jo Stafford Sings American Folk Songs,” and  
followed it with “Songs of Scotland.”

The folk-pop singer Judy Collins has credited Ms. Stafford’s version  
of “Barbara Allen” as a major inspiration for her early folk career.  
In the late 940’s and early 50’s Ms. Stafford teamed Gordon McRae  
teamed for a series of hit duets, including “My Darling, My Darling,”  
from the Broadway musical, “Where’s Charley?” and the devotional song,  
“Whispering Hope.” When Mr. Weston left Capitol Records for Columbia,  
Ms. Stafford followed him.

Her Columbia albums, like “Swingin’ Down Broadway,” “Ski Trails”  
“Ballad of the Blues,” and “Jo + Jazz” (with the arranger Johnny  
Mandel) foreshadowed the modern concept album. Her biggest hits for  
the label included “Make Love to Me,” a pop version of Hank Williams’s  
“Jambalaya,” and “Shrimp Boats.”

On several hits she was teamed her with Frankie Laine and of those the  
most popular was their duet of another Williams song, “Hey, Good  
Lookin.’ After a falling out with Columbia in the late 1950’s, Ms.  
Stafford returned to Capitol, the joined Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label.

In 1966, Ms. Stafford went into semi-retirement. After “Stayin’  
Alive,” she retired completely from the music business. She re- 
appeared once, in 1990, at an event honoring Frank Sinatra.

Many of her hits have been reissued on Corinthian Records, a record  
company Mr. Weston founded as a religious label.

Many years after her retirement, Ms. Stafford looked back happily on  
her musical life with Mr. Weston. “Our talents — his and mine — fit  
the music of the time,” she said. “And the music fit us. We were very  
fortunate, because if both of us were starting out today, we’d starve  
to death!”

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