Bing Crosby: Blue Hawaii (1937)

 |   |  1 min read

Bing Crosby: Blue Hawaii (1937)

Because his 1961 film Blue Hawaii was so successful, most people forgivably assume the title song which Elvis Presley sang was specifically written for it.

However the song was almost 25 years old by that time and had originally been in another Hawaii-based musical, Waikiki Wedding.

That film starred crooner Bing Crosby, a singer whose style -- like that of Frank Sinatra when he was in blue-balladeer mode -- Presley much admired. The backing band included Lani McIntire who had been in Sol Hoopi's legendary and influential Novelty Trio.

Ironically, Crosby's version of Blue Hawaii was not the A-side of the 78rpm, that honour went to the lovely Sweet Leilani -- written by Nebraska-born Harry Owens who helmed bands at the Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki in the Thirties -- which became a standard and won best song at the '38 Oscars. 

Both films were barely disguised PR for the beauties of Hawaii, which wealthy Americans had been discovering since airlines like Pan Am flew their handsome Clippers there.

blue_hawaiiAnd while there the tourists discovered the delights of Hawaiian music, which became enormously popular in the Thirties, a passion which lasted for another three decades.

Hawaiian music conjured up palm trees and a Pacific paradise.

By the time Presley arrived there to film Blue Hawaii, the state has become part of the USA (in '59) so tourism was getting a real boost.

Elvis enjoyed the islands so much he made two other films there (Girls! Girls! Girls! and Paradise, Hawaiian Style) and he also did some famous concerts there.

When it comes to the song, Presley's version sounds by far the more tender and, in current parlance, he "owns" it. 

For more about Hawaii as a film location (which mentions Elvis) see here, or for other Hawaii stories start here. There's a slew of Elvis Presley at Elsewhere also, starting here

For more one-offs, songs with an interesting backstory or just plain odd things see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Big Joe Turner: Honey Hush (1953)

Big Joe Turner: Honey Hush (1953)

When white artists discovered the vast catalogue of black rhythm and blues and began to cover many of the songs -- thus giving birth to rock'n'roll in the mid Fifites -- it was to Big Joe Turner... > Read more

Victor Borge: Phonetic Punctuation (1955)

Victor Borge: Phonetic Punctuation (1955)

Denmark-born pianist Victor Borge was a child prodigy who could have had a distinguished career playing concert halls. Fortunately for us he chose another direction. Born to Jewish parents in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WOMAD ARTIST 2013; JIMMY CLIFF INTERVIEWED: The outsider

WOMAD ARTIST 2013; JIMMY CLIFF INTERVIEWED: The outsider

Jimmy Cliff – who cut such classic reggae singles as The Harder They Come, Many Rivers to Cross and You Can Get It If You Really Want It back in the Sixties and Seventies – says he... > Read more

LONDON ROCK AND ROLL SHOW 1972 (Rajon DVD)

LONDON ROCK AND ROLL SHOW 1972 (Rajon DVD)

What adjectives can you apply to this 80 minute concert film? Exciting, essential, hilarious, important, historic . . .?All of those, for sure. Since its heyday, rebellious and... > Read more