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Vaughn Monroe

Jeanette High School's Boy Most Likely to Succeed - Tops the Charts as a Baritone Singer and Band Leader

Vaughn Monroe was a popular baritone singer, band leader, trumpet and trombone player, and actor. An RCA recording artist, he is known for his signature tune "Racing with the Moon”.  Monroe had almost 70 recordings on the charts from 1940 to 1954.  Three of his recordings Let It Snow, Ghost Riders in the Sky and Ballerina, were ranked among the all-time top #1 songs, each dominating the Billboard charts for 10 weeks or more.  Vaughn hosted the Camel Caravan radio show,  was the star of his own television show, and appeared in several movies. 

Vaughn Wilton Monroe was born in Akron, Ohio in 1912.  He was a descendant of President James Monroe, A friend gave Vaughn an old trumpet when he was 10 years old. He bought a trumpet lessons book and practiced.  Within 3 months he played a solo at a school concert in Kent Ohio. At age 15 his family moved to Jeanette, Pa when his father became a research engineer at the General Tire and Rubber Co. Entering Jeannette High School as a junior Vaughn he joined the band, the orchestra, jazz orchestra and the glee club. He loved music.  Vaughn also played basketball, ran track, and was the senior class president.  He wrote his high school’s alma mater and met his wife Marian at the school. His classmates voted him voted the "boy most likely to succeed,"

While in high school and for two years after his graduation he played trumpet in Jeanette area dance bands.  He saved his money for college and enrolled in Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) as a voice major.  His ambition was to be an opera singer,  At the end of his first semester he received an offer from the band leader Austin Wylie.  He went on the road with Wylie’s band for two years. He then toured with Larry Funk’s band playing trumpet.  Tired on the one night stands he settled in Boston around 1935.  He took job in a band owned by Jack Marshard and played around Boston for two years. He played trumpet and sang a few vocals.  Vaughn’s brother Bill, a singer and trombone player also joined the band.  While living in Boston Vaughn studied voice at New England Conservatory of Music.  Around 1937 Jack Marshard made Vaughn the leader of the band and front man vocalist.  Marshard convinced Monroe to form his own band in 1940.  The Vaughn Monroe Orchestra made its debut near Boston at Siler's Ten Acres.

Vaughn’s band played their first radio broadcast on NBC on of April 10, 1940.  RCA Victor head the broadcast and signed the orchestra to a contract on its Bluebird label.  In 1940 his orchestra released "There I Go," which was at the top of the Hit Parade charts for three weeks. He released the vocal ballad that became his theme, “Racing with the Moon," in 1941.  After that his he named his band’s back up singers the “Moon Maids”  He had three No.1 hits between 1942 and 1943: "My Devotions," "When the Lights Go on Again (All Over the World)" and "Let's Get Lost."  In 1945 two of his songs topped the charts for month than a month: There! I've Said It Again" and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" 

Monroe disbanded his orchestra 1953 but continued to perform and record as a solo artist.  His two biggest career hits were "Ballerina" in 1947 and "Ghost Riders in the Sky," in 1949.  His songs “Don't Go to Strangers” reached no 38 on the The Billboard Hot 100 in 1956, The “The Battle of New Orleans” reached 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959.

Monroe performed on the "Ed Sullivan Show," "Texaco Star Theatre," the "Jackie Gleason Show," "The Tonight Show" "American Bandstand" and "The Mike Douglas Show. He hosted to the Vaughn Monroe television show in 1950-51 and 1954. Vaughn also acted on "Bonanza".  Vaughn appeared in several movies including  "Meet the People,"(1944), "Carnegie Hall" (1947), "Singing Guns" (1950), and the "Toughest Man in Arizona" (1952). He owned The Meadows Restaurant and Nightclub in Framingham, Mass. He also co-authored a children's book "The Adventures of Mr. Putt Putt," in 1949. Vaughn was also a pilot. Vaughn continued to perform into his early 70s.

Ghost Riders In the Sky