Friday, February 7, 1992

Today in Music (1942): Glenn Miller hit #1 with “String of Pearls”

A String of Pearls

Glenn Miller

Writer(s): Jerry Gray (music), Eddie DeLange (words) (see lyrics here)

Recorded: November 3, 1941

First Charted: January 3, 1942

Peak: 12 US, 6 GA, 12 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 5.2 video, 13.45 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This was “onie of the most successful results of the historic collaboration between Glenn Miller and Jerry Gray [the song’s composer] that produced more top 10 records during the fastest time period of any musical team in history.” CU Gray became the chief arranger and musical collaborator for clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw by 1939. However, that November, Gray was offered a job by Miller within hours CU of Shaw ditching his band and heading to Mexico. SS As Miller’s arranger, Gray contributed #1 hits “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo,” “Moonlight Cocktail,” “Elmer’s Tune,” and, of course, “A String of Pearls.” CU It was this song which got Gray promoted from arranger to composer by Miller. TY2

The song, introduced on Miller’s Chesterfield radio programs in August 1941, featured “booming sax solos and familiar battle between Miller stars Tex Beneke and Ernie Caceres followed by the challenge between Al Klink and renown veteran jazz saxist Babe Russin.” CU In Smithsonian’s boxsed set of Big Band Jazz, it is described as sustaining “one of the most unusual blue moods in all recorded jazz. The piece has a main melody that is virtually no melody, barely even a riff, and is for most people absolutely memorable once it is heard.” SS

The song was officially recorded for RCA Bluebird on November 3, 1941. It featured “a beautiful, graceful cornet solo by Bobby Hackett,” TY2 who was usually Miller’s guitarist, turning what “might have been just another Glenn Miller instrumental into a hit.” TY2 It landed at #1 on the Billboard chart of national best-selling records on February 7, 1942 – knocking off Miller and Gray’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” It would be knocked from the top by “Moonlight Cocktail,” giving Miller the #1 spot for all but one week during a six month frame from November 1941 to April 1942. CU

The song became “a big band and jazz standard” WK recorded by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Harry James, Stan Kenton, and Lawrence Welk. Benny Goodman had a #15 hit with it 1942. In 1944, Miller charted again with a reissue of the song.


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First posted 4/19/2021; last updated 1/31/2024.

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