Bandleader Ray Anthony's 1952 recording of "The Bunny Hop" became the biggest hit in a 50-year career that includes more than 100 album releases, and it still sells 5,000 to 10,000 copies a year, he reports.
At age 18, Anthony began two years as a member of "In the Mood" originator Glenn Miller's band. Though Miller's sound was to have a significant influence on Anthony's own bands, the two, to quote George T. Simon's "The Big Bands" jazz history, "never hit it off especially well."
In the Navy during World War II, Anthony formed his own band to entertain the troops, who in turn voted it the hottest band in the Pacific islands. After the war, he started a civilian outfit that became popular while incorporating, he said, the sax sound of Miller's band with the trumpet sound of Harry James and trombone sound of Tommy Dorsey's band.
Over the years, Anthony's sound became more defined by his own trumpet style, which was noted for a gutsy emphasis of the horn's lower register. "My musicians sometimes kid me that the high register on my trumpet is still brand new," he said with a laugh. In further describing his sound, he said, "I always like to think that I play a melodic kind of jazz rather than just putting out a lot of notes and energy. I like to feel that I play a very warm, emotional type of ballad."
It's good that he's so fit, because Anthony has no plans to leave music. "Until death do us part, I guess, because anyone who has retired in show business, particularly the musical part, has regretted it."