The Colorado Music Hall of Fame hosted an induction concert in April 2016, honoring those “20th Century Pioneers” who have tremendous ties to the state. The Glenn Miller Orchestra and the incomparable Lannie Garrett (who was also inducted) paid tribute to and enshrined Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman, Max Morath, Billy Murray and Elizabeth Spencer for the event, presented by Comfort Dental. It took place at the newly renovated Glenn Miller Ballroom on the C.U. Boulder campus. A closer look at the inductees, who were the sixth group for enshrinement in the Hall since its inception in 2011:
Legendary big band leader Glenn Miller graduated from Fort Morgan High School in 1920 and entered the University of Colorado in 1923; he then played with numerous bands before finding great success with songs such as “In the Mood,” “String of Pearls,” “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” his theme song “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” (the first-ever gold record for selling more than one million copies in 1942). The Glenn Miller Ballroom was named for him in 1953.
Often referred to as “the King of Jazz,” Paul Whiteman was the biggest name in show business in the 1920s and 1930s, appearing with his band on radio and in movies. He was born in Denver in 1890 and learned music from his father Wilberforce, who was director of music for the Denver Public Schools. Whiteman learned viola and played in 1916 with the Denver Symphony Orchestra as first chair.
Referred to as “Mr. Ragtime,” Max Morath‘s a ragtime pianist, composer, actor and author. Born in Colorado Springs, he graduated from Colorado College and entertained at the Gold Bar Room in Cripple Creek. His 1960s television show The Ragtime Era was hugely popular in the early days of public television. Morath had an off-Broadway hit with Turn of the Century in 1969 and recorded many popular albums.
Dubbed “the Denver Nightingale,” Billy Murray was one of the very first music stars from the state of Colorado. Born in 1877, he spent most of his early years in Denver. At age 16, he joined a band and later toured many vaudeville circuits as a singer. In 1903, Murray released his first Edison cylinder recordings (precursors to vinyl records) and became one of the most popular artists in the U.S., singing comic and “ethnic” songs.
Elizabeth Spencer was an accomplished singer, actress, violinist and vaudevillian, she was also a radio pioneer, singing and reciting stories and poetry “on the air” in the 1920s. Between 1910 and 1916, Spencer was the most prolific vocalist on Thomas Edison’s staff, recording in a variety of formats. Her stepfather was Col. William Gilpin, who served as the first Governor of the Territory of Colorado in 1861.
Singer/entertainer Lannie Garrett has been a fixture on the Colorado music scene for four decades, and is still going strong. She has headlined with the Colorado Symphony, performed in nightclubs from LA to NY, starred in two Hollywood “B” movies, and recorded 5 critically acclaimed CD’s. In the early 1990s she co-owned and operated the Ruby nightclub on 17th Avenue, and in 2006 she opened Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret beneath downtown’s D&F Clock Tower, where she not only books eclectic local and national acts, but also performs regularly in a variety of shows. from fronting her swinging big band “AnySwing Goes” to her annual, campy country spoof, the hilarious Patsy DeCline show.
The evening featured video tributes, interviews and performances. A historic array of exhibits and archival photographs was on display and then relocated in the CMHOF’s new home at the Trading Post at the world renowned Red Rocks Amphitheater.
The Colorado Music Hall of Fame, presented by Comfort Dental, is a non-profit organization. Its mission is to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions, to preserve and protect historical artifacts, and to educate the public regarding everything that’s great about our Colorado music.