In this soundie from the early 1930’s, Frank Westphal’s Orchestra performs Sing You Sinners live on WENR Chicago.
Westphal, a native to Chicago, began his career as a pianist-for-hire in vaudeville around 1910.
It was during his time on the circuit that the up-and-coming performer met the great singer Sophie Tucker who hired him as her full-time accompanist.
As their relationship grew, they soon became secret lovers.
But over time, as Sophie Tucker’s popularity grew, Frank Westphal’s luster began to fade.
This led to Westphal leaving music performance altogether to become the proprietor of the Sophie Tucker Garage, a business venture that failed not long after.
Westphal returned to show business soon after, occasionally performing with The Marx Brothers when they needed musical accompaniment.
After being drafted in the US Army, Tucker, who had become estranged from Westphal, divorced the bandleader.
Completing his tour of duty, Frank Westphal, though down, was not out.
A witness to the growing dance craze of the emerging Jazz Age, the pianist kicked around different orchestras until he secured a residency at Chicago’s Rainbo Gardens.
It was here that Westphal’s credibility as a bandleader grew.
New opportunities to become a recording artist emerged during which he laid down at least 50 tracks including Bugle Call Rag, Two Time Dan, and Oh! Sister, Ain’t That Hot!
Fans noted Westphal for his signature “dusting the keys” and “pianola” style, a nod toward earlier novelty stylists like Zez Confrey.
Later, Westphal drifted away from recording to lead his own orchestra and eventually become studio director for Chicago radio station WENR throughout the 1930’s.
This clip is an authentic experience of Frank Westphal leading his orchestra performing Sing You Sinners live on WENR Chicago during one of those unique radio shows.