Tenderly (m. Walter Gross , w. Jack Lawrence)
Walter Gross (July 14, 1909 – November 27, 1967) is best known for having composed the music for the popular 1946 song “Tenderly”. In addition to composing dozens of other titles, he was also a pianist, arranger, orchestra leader, and record industry executive.
Biography – Born in New York City, Gross gave his first piano recital at age 10. He began performing professionally in the early 1930s, and played piano in bands led by Paul Whiteman, Andre Kostelanetz, Tommy Dorsey, and Raymond Scott. He was also a staff pianist on CBS radio in the 1930s. After serving in the military during World War II, Gross became an executive at Musicraft Records, where he served as conductor/arranger/pianist for recording sessions.
In 1946, he was approached by noted lyricist Jack Lawrence, who asked permission to add words to an untitled melody Gross had composed. At first Gross was reluctant to cooperate, and after Lawrence presented his finished lyrics, Gross expressed dissatisfaction with the words and title. Lawrence eventually succeeded in finding a publisher for the new work, and shortly thereafter it was recorded by Sarah Vaughan. While it was a modest hit, the song was Vaughan’s first solo chart success and marked her transition from jazz artist to popular singing star. [read more]
From The American Songbook: The Singers, Songwriters & The Songs, by Ken Bloom; Foreword by Michael Feinstein, 2005, p. 28:
Jack Lawrence, on writing the lyric: The tune haunted me and the lyric practically wrote itself during my waking and sleeping hours. Words came so easily that I decided to wait a while before calling Walter for fear that he might think I’d written an off-the-cuff lyric. Literally, I waited about ten days. Then feigning great excitement, I called Walter and said, “I’ve got it, Walter! I’ve got it!” In a rather deadpan tone, he asked, “What’s the title?”
I took a deep breath and practically sang out, “TEN-der-LY!” There was a long pause at his end. Then he sneered, “That’s no title! That’s what you put at the top of the sheet music: Play Tenderly!”
Randy Brooks and his Orchestra — recorded on 14 July 1947; issued on the single Decca 24161, b/w “Lamplighter”
Sarah Vaughan with George Treadwell’s Orchestra — issued in 1947 on the single Musicraft 504, b/w “Don’t Blame Me”
Lynn Hope – 1950
Rosemary Clooney with Percy Faith and his Orchestra, 1952
Wikipedia suggests that this recording may be the best-known version, and notes that it was Clooney’s theme song for her 1956-1957 TV variety show.
Nat King Cole – from the 1953 LP release Sings for Two in Love, recorded 27, 28 January 1953 and 23, 25 August 1955
Chet Baker — recorded 24 October 1955, in Paris — Jimmy Bond: bass, Nils-Bertil Dahlander: drums, Gérard Gustin: piano, Chet Baker: trumpet
Nat King Cole and the Oscar Peterson Trio, on the Nat King Cole Show, 1957
Santo & Johnny – 1959
Eric Dolphy – sixth track from Far Cry! — recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 21 December 1960 — Eric Dolphy (alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet); Booker Little (trumpet); Jaki Byard (piano); Ron Carter (bass); Roy Haynes (drums)
Bert Kaempfert – 1961 – a minor hit, reaching #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart
Bobby Troup Quintet – live in Japan, 28 May 1964
Ronnie Aldrich — from Ronnie Aldrich, his Piano & Orchestra, 1988