Bing Crosby’s recording career began on October 18, 1926 with I’ve Got the Girl, a record that also featured his early singing partner Al Rinker and the Don Clark Orchestra. His final recording, Once In a While, from October 11, 1977 – just three days before his death – marked the end of a career that included over 2,000 recordings.
Bing’s records occupied the number one position on the charts 44 times, for a total of 179 weeks in the top spot. His first three number one records were as the vocalist in Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.
Bing had over a dozen number one records before starting his long association with Decca Records in 1934. Bing Crosby records topped the charts for 23 consecutive weeks in 1944. His version of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas remains the best selling recording of all time with The Guinness Book Of World Records reporting worldwide sales over 100 million. Approximately 50 million of those sales are for singles and White Christmas has entered the American pop charts twenty separate times, reaching the number one spot three times.
Bing started out singing the jazz and pop songs of the Roaring Twenties but his repertoire soon came to encompass a wide variety of styles, including light opera, ballads, Irish, Hawaiian, religious, patriotic, country & western, French, ish and Italian songs, and even “sing-along” and spoken word recordings.
He was the first star to sign with Decca Records, following his friend Jack Kapp from Brunswick as the new company was started.
Records were selling for 35 cents and Bing maintained his high sales and popularity through the Great Depression and World War II. At the same time, he was a popular movie star and many of Bing’s hit records were first heard in his movies.
Fourteen songs introduced by Crosby in various films were nominated for Academy Awards and four of them won the Oscar – “Sweet Leilani,” “Swinging on a Star,” “White Christmas” and “In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening.”
A few years after completing a twenty-one year association with Decca Records, during which he made approximately 1200 recordings for the company, Bing Crosby started Project Records, Inc. Initially named Roxbury Records, the company was formed in the spring of 1959.
By having his own record company, Bing was able to retain ownership of the masters of his recordings and also benefit from the tax advantages of recording for his own company. Project did not have a distribution system, so the recordings Bing made for Project were licensed to other labels for distribution.] Project served as a production company. Record producer Si Rady was hired by Bing to run the label and Rady produced Bing’s Project albums while also serving as the company’s president. Project’s board of directors included Bing’s brothers, Everett and Larry.
Project Records was dissolved in 1963 and Bing continued to record independently for the remainder of his career, making albums for several labels including Capitol, Reprise and United Artists.
The Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences awarded Bing the first Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1962. This award later became known as the Bing Crosby Lifetime Achievement Award. He also won the first American Music Award for lifetime achievement in 1973, at the inaugural ceremony.
Bing Crosby has sold close to one billion records, tapes, compact discs and digital downloads around the world.