BOBBY TROUP

Born Robert William Troup, Jr., 18 October 1918, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Died 7 February 1999, Sherman Oaks, California

Songwriter / pianist / vocalist / actor / producer. Among rock 'n' roll fans, Bobby Troup will probably be best known for writing two songs: "Route 66" and "The Girl Can't Help It". Without his lyrics to "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", the American tradition of cruising just wouldn't be the same. The blues-based number was composed in 1946 while Troup was heading west on that venerable roadway. Little did he realize at the time that it would become a signature song, the one number that - despite his numerous other accomplishments - would forever come to mind when his name is mentioned. In fact, Troup wrote many well-known songs, some well before his road song classic. Among the more familiar items are "Daddy" (his first hit, a # 1 song for 8 weeks for Sammy Kaye in 1941), "Baby, Baby All The Time", "The Meaning of the Blues" and the lyrics for "Girl Talk." "Get Your Kicks On Route 66" was first recorded by Nat "King" Cole (Capitol 256), whose version reached # 3 on the R&B charts and # 11 on the pop charts in the summer of 1946. Transcending all formats of music, the song has also been recorded by popular music artists Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Harry James, the Four Freshman, and the Andrews Sisters; rock musicians Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Dépeche Mode; country groups Asleep at the Wheel and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys; and Manhattan Transfer won a Grammy for their 1982 rendition of the song. Some 50 performers have recorded the tune, and the list continues to grow. Troup was drawn to music at an early age through his piano playing father. And despite earning a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he soon turned to songwriting as a career. After serving in the Marine Corps as a captain during World War II, he headed to California, giving himself two years to make it in the music business, helping his ambitions enormously by writing "Route 66" along the way. Much of his time in the 1950s and '60s, was spent as an active participant in Los Angeles' then-burgeoning West Coast jazz scene ("I think I worked every club in Los Angeles," he once said). But his closest connection to jazz came in 1957, when Troup began a 2 1/2-year run hosting a KABC television series titled "Stars of Jazz," which went national for a few months in 1958. One of the earliest and most successful airings of jazz on television, the show featured an extraordinary lineup of artists, including Stan Getz, Carmen McRae and Erroll Garner, as well as West Coast stars June Christy, Julie London (Troup's wife), Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank and Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars. " Television and film fans of the 1970s, however, knew Troup from a completely different context. His film career included parts in "M*A*S*H," "The High Cost of Loving," "Number One" and "First to Fight." He also was cast in musical roles in "The Five Pennies," "The Gene Krupa Story" and "The Duchess of Idaho," and wrote scores for "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Rock Pretty Baby". According to Art Rupe, Troup was shocked when he heard what Little Richard had done to "The Girl Can't Help It". It was not written as a rock 'n' roll song. Troup appeared in the television shows "Dragnet," "Fantasy Island," "Acapulco" (for which he also wrote the music) and "Musical Chairs.">From 1972 to 1977 he played the role of Dr. Early in the medical series "Emergency!" His wife, singer Julie London, also appeared in the show (which was produced by her first husband, actor Jack Webb) in the role of Dixie. Despite the success of "Emergency!," the show largely marked the end of Troup's visibility as a songwriter and musician. In the intervening decades, he and London lived quietly in Encino, raising what they described as a "his, mine and ours family" that included two children from Troup's first marriage (Cynnie and Ronne), two children from London's marriage to Webb (Stacy and Lisa) and three children from the Troup-London marriage (Kelly and the twins Reese and Jody).

 
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