Music has been an important part of the film experience since the beginning, largely produced by tinny in-theater pianos and later by synchronized turntables and more sophisticated technology. But it was the talkie revolution that brought music to the forefront of feature filmmaking, and the explosive growth of musical films in the late 1920s enticed hordes of musical ensembles from radio, Broadway, vaudeville, and even opera to appear on the silver screen. In the 1930s and 1940s, big bands were the predominant musical groups featured in popular films, and a few had long-term contracts with the major studios - including Harry James at 20th Century-Fox and Tommy Dorsey and Xavier Cugat at MGM. By the 1950s and 1960s, musical films had largely evolved into thinly veiled frameworks on which to hang the popular music of the day - dominated by 'now' groups from the Beach Boys to the Supremes.This book discusses hundreds of musical groups which appeared in at least one film between 1929 and 1970, arranged alphabetically according to the way each group was billed on screen. Commonly occurring alternate forms of band names (for example, Hal Grayson's Orchestra and Hal Grayson and his Orchestra) are grouped together for ease of use. Most entries include a brief description of the musical group, a list of the main singers or performers, and when available, a list of the songs performed in each film. An appendix lists popular British groups which have appeared in American films, while a second appendix lists groups which, while neither singers nor instrumentalists, made significant contributions to the use of music in film (primarily dance duos but also acrobats, skaters, synchronized swimmers, and other specialty acts).
Roy Liebman, formerly a librarian and film bibliographer at California State University, currently works at the Los Angeles Public Library. Living in Woodland Hills, California, he is also the author of Vitaphone Films, (2003), The Wampas Baby Stars (2000), From Silents to Sound (1998) and Silent Film Performers (1996).