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"I'm A Little Teapot" - Ronnie Kemper & Horace Heidt's Musical Knights

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The article below is taken from The Big Bands Database Plus website. Although Ronnie Kemper was born in Missoula he grew up in Sacramento, Ca. He performed with many of the best-known artists of his era. He served in the military during WW II.

Ronnie Kemper Orchestra
b: August 1, Missoula, MT, d: Feb., 16, 1997, Sacramento, CA. USA.
Theme: "Cecilia" (a Dave Dreyer/Herman Ruby composition. The Dick Jurgens Orch. release with Ronnie Kemper, on Columbia Records (78rpm) sold over a million copies.
Here's a photograph of
Ronnie Kemper, who at age 6 began studying the piano, and was an accomplished musician by the time he entered Sacramento (CA) High School. He even formed his own band when he enrolled in Sacramento Junior College. Ronnie would go on to great fame while working with the Dick Jurgens Orchestra from 1934 to 1940. His vocal on "Cecilia (Does Your Mother Know You're Out)" made him so popular that Horace Heidt hired him away from Jurgens. He had two major vocals while with Heidt, "G'bye Now" (hit the Million mark in sales) and, I'll Be Back In A While" (both from 1941). He also appeared with the Heidt band in the the movie 'Pot Of Gold' and their radio show of the same name. While with Heidt, his recording of "I'm A Little Teapot" also sold over a Million discs, and the tune was used by the Lipton Tea Company in their radio commercials

He wanted to leave Heidt in 1941 to form his own band but Heidt refused to let him out of his contract, but he did appear in the 1941 film Pot Of Gold, that starred Jimmy Stewart and Paulette Goddard. It wasn't until the fall of 1942 when Heidt allowed him to leave.

Ronnie formed his own band, that included trumpeter and future band leader Claude Gordon, with Ruth Russell as the 'girl' vocalist. The band was based in California and played major engagements in Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe. It lasted less than a year, breaking up when Kemper was drafted into the Army in 1943. The band left no recordings as a recording ban was in effect during its existence.

During WWII, Ronnie saw service with the 100th Infantry Division, after which he returned to resume his music career. Throughout the 1950's, he performed in clubs, and on radio and television in the Hollywood and Los Angeles (CA) area.

During the 1960s, he was in San Francisco, playing in the Domino Club, and also producing the San Francisco Press Club's variety shows, called "Kemper's Klambakes". In the Sacramento (CA) area, he was a regular singer/pianist at such clubs as the Palomino Room, El Rancho and the Cordova Lodge. In addition to working on cruise ships, he was seen in his own 'Kemper Musicales', at the Mather Air Force Base and other locales.

Kemper was also a successful songwriter. Two of his songs were also heard on the Lucky Strike Cigarettes 'Hit Parade' radio show; "Knit One-Purl Two" (recorded by Glenn Miller in 1942), and "It's A Hundred To One I'm In Love", which was made popular on records by Dick Jurgens (but an Eddy Howard vocal), as well as by the Jan Savitt orchestra with vocalist 'Bon Bon' (George Tunell). Among the other tunes that Kemper composed were "Downhearted Blues", "What Ya Gonna Do With Somebody Else", "Constantly", "Rose of Japan", and "The Doodle Bug Song".

Ronnie also had his own shows, appearing at times on The Ronnie Kemper Show, from Hollywood, CA, on the ABC Network. His own Kemper's Kapers, was seen on Hollywood's TV Channel 13, and Ronnie also appeared on The Platter Panel, along with Johnny Carson, Frank DuVol, Bill Ballance, Dick Whittinghill, and Ira Cook.

Kemper also made a few records as a solo artist after the war before retiring from the music industry. He was 89 years of age when he died, and was survived by his daughter, Tiffany Urness and his two sons, Kevin and Clay Kemper.
The BigBands Database Plus thanks Mr. Clay Kemper, Ronnie's son, for his gracious help with the above entry on his father.


See below for Tea House article about the song:



Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 17:41