Gray Gordon

Gray Gordon, born Jerome Rohkar (May 4, 1904, Freeport, Illinois - July 18, 1976, New York City) was an American saxophonist and big band leader active in the 1930s and 1940s.

Gordon first led a band called the Pretzel Five when he was still in high school. He moved to Chicago in the mid-1920s, where he played with the Seattle Harmony Kings and Elmo Mack's Purple Derby Orchestra. He led a band which played the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. In 1936 he relocated to New York City, where he founded his first professional band, taking the stage name Gray Gordon during a touring engagement at the Hotel Chase in St. Louis.

Gordon called his band the Tic Toc Rhythm, based on the distinct clock-like rhythmic figure played on temple blocks by his percussionist Frank Adams. This was often accompanied by a trombone figuration prior to the beginning of songs, which helped identify the band to listeners during radio performances. For several years from 1939, he held a six-month engagement at the Hotel Edison in New York, whose performances were broadcast nightly on radio, and toured the other half of the year. His group started as a smaller ensemble - three brass instruments, three saxophones, and three rhythm instruments - but in 1940 he expanded it to twelve musicians or more, plus vocalists. He recorded several times for Bluebird and Victor during the period 1940-41; he also recorded four sound films in 1941 playing swing jazz. One of his signature songs, "I Am an American", was a popular tune at war bond rallies during World War II. He married dancer Noel Carter in 1941; they divorced in 1949.

Gordon dissolved his band in 1945 and later worked in artist and repertory in the music business, including for Les Paul, Mary Ford, and King Guion. He also worked in public relations for hotels in Miami. He was living in New York City in 1976 when he died of cancer at St. Luke's Hospital. He is buried at Oakland Cemetery in his home town of Freeport.

Birth and Death Data: Born May 4th, 1904 (Freeport), Died July 18th, 1976 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1938 - 1941

Roles Represented in DAHR: director, songwriter, vocalist, composer, arranger

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 103 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-026610 10-in. 8/17/1938 Tenpins in the sky Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026611 10-in. 8/17/1938 For the first time Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026612 10-in. 8/17/1938 When the circus came to town Gray Gordon ; Shirley Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026613 10-in. 8/17/1938 When a prince of a fella meets a Cinderella Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026614 10-in. 8/17/1938 You're the very last word in love Gray Gordon ; Betty Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026615 10-in. 8/17/1938 Heigh-ho, the merry-o Gray Gordon ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band director  
Victor BS-026861 10-in. 9/12/1938 You can't be mine (And someone else's too) Gray Gordon ; Shirley Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026862 10-in. 9/12/1938 Dream girl of Pi K.A. Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026863 10-in. 9/12/1938 Blue in the black of the night Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026864 10-in. 9/12/1938 Sixty seconds got together Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026865 10-in. 9/12/1938 All ashore Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-026866 10-in. 9/12/1938 There's something about an old love Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-028103 10-in. 10/17/1938 Let me sleep tonight Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-028104 10-in. 10/17/1938 Emaline Gray Gordon ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band director  
Victor BS-028105 10-in. 10/17/1938 I kissed you in a dream last night (Do you mind?) Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-028106 10-in. 10/17/1938 After looking at you Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-028107 10-in. 10/17/1938 That's what I want for Christmas Gray Gordon ; Shirley Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo director  
Victor BS-028108 10-in. 10/17/1938 The story book ball Carl Carelli ; Gray Gordon ; Shirley Lane ; Bill North ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with mixed vocal trio director  
Victor BS-030395 10-in. 12/14/1938 Over the rainbow Gray Gordon ; Cliff Grass ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo director  
Victor BS-030396 10-in. 12/14/1938 The jitterbug Gray Gordon ; Shirley Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo director  
Victor BS-030397 10-in. 12/14/1938 Off to see the Wizard of Oz Gray Gordon ; Shirley Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo and vocal ensemble director  
Victor BS-030398 10-in. 12/14/1938 If only I had a brain (If I only had a heart, if I only had the nerve) Gray Gordon ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with mixed vocal trio director  
Victor BS-030399 10-in. 12/14/1938 Ding-dong! The witch is dead Gray Gordon ; Betty Lane ; Shirley Lane ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with female vocal duet and vocal ensemble director  
Victor BS-030700 10-in. 12/14/1938 If I were king of the forest Gray Gordon ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and vocal ensemble director, vocalist  
Victor BS-031565 10-in. 1/27/1939 Sell your cares for a song Gordon Goons ; Gray Gordon ; Tic-Toc Rhythm Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal quartet director  
(Results 1-25 of 103 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Gordon, Gray," accessed October 16, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104827.

Gordon, Gray. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 16, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104827.

"Gordon, Gray." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 16 October 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/104827

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