My Mother
and the
Ted Weems Orchestra

Back in 1947, when my mother was "only a kid" she attracted the attention of one of the male members of the Ted Weems Orchestra. Her town Sleepy Hollow (now North Tarrytown) and neighboring Tarrytown, NY were selected as "typical United Nations villages" and a number of associated events and celebratrions were taking place. Among these was a performance by the Ted Weems Orchestra at my mother's high school. The Ted Weems Orchestra was hot. Billboard magazine on May 10, 1947 reviewed a performance by the "ork" at the Chase Club in St. Louis, noting that the band was "riding the crest of Heartaches popularity." Heartaches was the #1 hit at the time. Notably, the review mentions the "good-looking balladeer Bob Edwards," refers to Shirley Richards, the "girl vocalist" in the band, as a "lovely St. Louis chick with a load of personality," and declares that the "biggest hit of the show was scored by Elmo Tanner with his whistling of Heartache and Nola." I say notably since it is these three who signed the back of a photograph of my mother when she and her her friends were at the high school show that day.

My mother and her friends were in line to meet the band members, when it occurred to them that that should get autographs. The only problem was, what would they sign? Well, one of the guys had a photograph of my mother in his wallet. (He wasn't a "boyfriend" according to my mother. She didn't have any boyfriends. Just guys that carried photos of her in their wallets.)

Here is the photograph.

On the back you'll find the autographs of Bob Edwards, Shirley Richards, and Elmo Tanner.

Elmo Tanner was the famed "whistler" in the band, responsible for the whistling on the hit Heartaches. Here's an undated photo of Elmo Tanner.

Elmo became quite infatuated with my mother, and was holding up the line because he decided he should hit on her. Tanner, who was born in 1904, had to be 42 years old at the time, while my mother was only 16. Fortunately, the bandleader Ted Weems happened by and broke up the conversation, saying "For God's sake, Elmo, she's only a kid."

Here's a YouTube video of Ted Weems and His Orchestra having fun with other girls.

If you care to read Billboard's full review of the band's St. Louis performance at the Chase Club, here it is.

This page was last updated on 13 March 2010.
Contact Geoff Williamson with any comments, updates or suggestions.