Merv Griffin, R.I.P. (Part II)


Three years later the nationally known big band leader Freddy Martin came north from the famous Coconut Grove in Los Angeles to play at the St. Francis in San Francisco. Martin was urged to listen to Merv Griffin’s radio show–and he liked what he heard–proposing that the younger singer join the band for a U.S. tour.

Money wasn’t the key factor in tempting Griffin to leave his cushy job at KFRC; it was the opportunity to record with Freddy Martin’s band on the RCA label.

Griffin never forgot what it was like to travel as a band singer on the road.

“I left in June 1948 on a bus tour of the U.S., with the first stop–Eureka,” Griffin recalled, with a smile in his voice. “It was 74 one-nighters, with one day off in Fargo.”

Two years later, the Martin band and Griffin climbed to No. 1 on the Hit Parade with his novelty recording of “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” which sold three million copies. Griffin stayed with the band until the early 1950s, when he struck out on his own with a hot nightclub act in Vegas.

…to be continued…