Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
#847 (9/26/15 - 10/9/15)

SPOTLIGHT ON THE THREE KEYS - PART ONE OF TWO

"Mood Indigo"
The Three Keys
on Parlophone R1431
released in 1932

"Oh By Jingo!"/"Rasputin"
The Three Keys
on Brunswick 6567
released in 1933


N.B.C. NOVELTY TRIO THRILLING THOUSANDS                

[The above photo courtesy of Paul Ressler. Top-Bottom: John "Slim" Furness, "Bon Bon" Tunnell,
Bob Pease. Regarding the caption, Bon Bon eventually recorded for Joe Davis in the mid-1940s.]






THREE OF A KIND         



This talented trio—The Three Keys—the latest "find" of the National Broadcasting Company, is being rated as one of the most unusual radio entertainments and biggest hits of the present day. They are, from left to right, Bob, pianist; Bon Bon, tenor; Slim, guitarist and baritone. They broadcast on an NBC-WJZ network Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, Why not listen in?

(Left: Binghamton Press dated 8/17/32)

(Above: Pittsburgh Courier dated 10/29/32)



SOME THREE KEYS APPEARANCE CLIPPINGS:
(Provided by Marv Goldberg)

(Above: Delaware County Daily Times,
Chester, PA, dated 6/8/33)

(Above: New York Age dated 4/8/33)

(Above: Delaware County Daily Times,
Chester, PA, dated 6/26/33)


(Above: Evening Times, Sayre, PA dated 10/15/34)


THE THREE KEYS DISCOGRAPHY: [Thank you to Ferdie Gonzalez and his Disco-File.]

ORIGINAL RELEASES:

REISSUES: NOTE: There is one known unreleased song, recorded for Columbia on August 16, 1932, titled "ZONKY."

EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):

Listen to "Somebody Loses - Somebody Wins" - The Three Keys - Columbia 2706-D - 1932.

This side was recorded on August 16, 1932 and released in September 1932. It is their first record. As shown in the label image, the record is on blue shellac. During the song, Slim (above center) and Bon Bon (above right) discuss Slim's dice shooting prowess. [Thanks to Paul Ressler for the photos of Slim and Bon Bon.]



Above: Label image of Parlophone R1431 recorded on August 16, 1932 and originally released on Columbia 2706-D in September 1932. The flip of this Parlophone record is "Second New Rhythm Style Series No. 40 Beale Street Blues" by The Charleston Chasers. The flip of the Columbia record, "Somebody Loses - Somebody Wins," was released on Parlophone R1409 as No. 38 in the Second New Rhythm Style Series.

From Wikipedia: "....In 1927 the Columbia Graphophone Company acquired a controlling interest in the Carl Lindström Company and thereby in Parlophone. In 1931 Columbia merged with the Gramophone Company to form Electric & Musical Industries Ltd (EMI). Under EMI, the Parlophone company initially maintained its status as a jazz label. In about 1929 or 1930, the "Rhythm Style Series" started: jazz records culled from the Okeh label. Besides the Okeh recordings, Parlophone also issued recordings from US Columbia and Brunswick as well as a few sessions produced at US Decca...."



Above: Label image of Brunswick 6567 recorded on April 6, 1933 and released in May 1933.

NEWSPAPER BLURBS:

1. Pittsburgh Courier (8/27/32)—DETROIT-The Mills Brothers and now the Three Keys are bidding for fame and fortune in radioland. Detroiters Friday heard Bon Bon, Slim and Bob Keys [sic] over station WJR in their NBC debut and liked 'em. They promise another sensation in radio entertainment. The trio comes to Detroit via the air by the way of a basement cafe in Chester, Pa.

Theirs is a new method of harmonizing as yet unnamed. They are not copying anyone, for the tunes are put over without any imitations, and are absolutely original. Detroiters like 'em, so more power to the Keys!

2. Pittsburgh Courier (9/3/32)—THE THREE KEYS, Bon Bon, Slim and Bob, work hard on their programs. One night recently they arrived home at 2 a.m. following a broadcast. Bob had an idea for a song. They rehearsed until 9:30 a.m

3. Pittsburgh Courier (9/10/32)—The Three Keys, new colored trio, who feature instrumental and vocal numbers and who are broadcasting for WCAU radio station of Philadelphia, are to play in the vaudeville houses later under the management of Harry Lewetska.

4. Pittsburgh Courier (9/24/32)—THE THREE KEYS, sensational trio-act, which opened at the Capitol, New York, for three weeks, may also play 20 weeks of vaudeville time for Loew theaters. Contract between the colored trio and Loew calls for three weeks with an option of four more at the Capitol at $1,000 per week. After that Loew holds an additional 10-week vaudeville option at another $500 weekly increase, making it $2,000 per week for the trio if all the options are exercised.

The Three Keys were brought to New York by NBC from a colored cabaret in Chester, Pa. NBC's swift air buildup and high-powered press agent work is held responsible for the theater deal.

5. Delaware County Daily Times, Chester, PA (10/1/32)—The Three Keys, local unit over N.B.C. national network, have entered the category of radio's favorites playing also to theatregoers. This unit is enjoying a lucrative four week contract at $500 per week at Loew's Capital Theatre in New York.

The Loew chain which comprises one of the largest vaudeville houses in the country have an option on the services of the trio for a ten week period at $1500 a week, with an additional option for ten weeks at $2,000 per week.

According to press releases from the National Artists Bureau, the tentative plans for the "Keys" include a western and mid-western tour of forty weeks at a very nice contract figure.

6. Pittsburgh Courier (3/4/33)—Closing a week's return engagement at the Harlem Opera House, Saturday night, Three Keys played to capacity crowds all week. They sang new arrangements that pleased. Judging from their second reception these singers have lost none of their popularity with Harlem audiences.

They appeared a great advantage on the Cayuga Democratic benefit program at the Rockland Palace, besides adding new achievement laurels to their credit, when they sang two other benefits on Broadway bills, one being at Hotel Astor.

Their harmony and execution should keep these boys popular for a long time to come. The boys have lost none of their popularity.

7. Delaware County Daily Times, Chester, PA (3/25/33)—The Three Keys, who sparkled over the radio like a fourth of July firecracker several months ago only to sputter away and be forgotten, appeared last week in a new guise hooked up with Jack McLallen, comedian over WJZ, winning a new prize. Another slant on the Keys is that temperamentality and prosperity made it necessary for Bob to send an S.O.S. to Philadelphia for Jimmy Pitts, former Showboat star, to take the place of the disgruntled Bon-Bon.

8. New York Age (4/15/33)—In all fairness to the Three Keys. it must be admitted that they have improved marvelously since they first went on the air. The reception which they are receiving at the Lafayette this week is ample proof of this. At each performance on Saturday, in response to storms of applause, they sang eight or nine songs. The combination of piano, steel guitar and human voice make these three lovable youngsters the most unique and pleasing harmony combination on the stage or on the radio today....

9. Pittsburgh Courier (5/13/33)—THE THREE KEYS, Bon Bon, Slim and Bob, or in other words, a piano, guitar and voice, opened up for a week's engagement at the Regal Theater in Chicago last Sunday. This was the Keys' first vaudeville tour to the Windy City, and the South Side turned out in large numbers to see them. Their radio work will be continued through the Chicago studios of the National Broadcasting Company.

(Part Two of this Record of the Week includes more newspaper blurbs.)


Listen to this week's selections featuring The Three Keys from 1932 and 1933: [Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

     A. Stream RealAudio...
 
          1. Mood Indigo
          2. Oh By Jingo!
          3. Rasputin
 
          ALL THREE played in sequence

     B. Download RealAudio...
 
          1. Mood Indigo
          2. Oh By Jingo!
          3. Rasputin

     C. Stream/Download Media Player...
 
          1. Mood Indigo
          2. Oh By Jingo!
          3. Rasputin

      [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]

Click HERE for SPOTLIGHT ON THE THREE KEYS - PART TWO OF TWO.
(Above link will open in a separate window)


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