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Gene Austin - Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine 1929

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Published on Aug 2, 2011

Victor 21893 - This Song Peaked On US Music Charts At #8 In 1929
Gene Austin (June 24, 1900 -- January 24, 1972) was an American singer and songwriter, one of the first "crooners". His 1920s compositions "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" and "The Lonesome Road" became pop and jazz standards.
Austin was born as Lemeul Eugene Lucas in Gainesville, Texas (north of Dallas), to Nova Lucas (died 1943) and the former Serena Belle Harrell (died 1956). He took the name "Gene Austin" from his stepfather, Jim Austin, a blacksmith. Austin grew up in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, located east of Shreveport. There he learned to play piano and guitar. He ran away from home at 15 and attended a vaudeville act in Houston, Texas, where the audience was allowed to come to the stage and sing. On a dare from his friends, Austin took the stage and sang for the first time since singing as a Southern Baptist choir boy. The audience response was overwhelming, and the vaudeville company immediately offered him a billed spot on their ticket.
Austin joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17 in hopes of being dispatched to Europe to fight in World War I. He was first stationed in New Orleans, where he played the piano at night in the city's notorious vice district. His familiarity with horses from helping his stepfather in his blacksmithing business also prompted the Army to assign Austin to the cavalry and send him to Mexico with General John Pershing's Pancho Villa expedition, for which he was awarded the Mexican Service Medal. Thereafter, he served in France in the Great War.
On returning to the United States in 1919, Austin settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where he intended to study dentistry. Soon, however, he was playing piano and singing in local taverns. He started writing songs and formed a vaudeville act with Roy Bergere, with whom he wrote "How Come You Do Me Like You Do." The act ended when Bergere married. Austin worked briefly in a club owned by Lou Clayton, who later was a part of the famous vaudeville team Clayton, Jackson and Durante.
Gene Austin was an important pioneer crooner whose records in their day enjoyed record sales and the highest circulation. The Genial Texan ex-vaudevillian and would-be screen idol, Austin constitutes an underrated landmark in popular music history. He made a substantial number of influential recordings from the mid-1920s including a string of best-sellers.
In 1956, CBS made a television drama about Austin's life. In 1962, Austin campaigned unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor of Nevada. He polled only 5,017 votes (10.21 percent) to his opponent, Grant Sawyer, who received 40,168 ballots (81.4 percent) Sawyer then won the governorship by a nearly 2-1 margin over weak Republican opposition in the fall campaign.
Austin had retired to Palm Springs, in the late 1950s and had been active in civic boards there until 1970. Income from his record sales allowed him to live comfortably the rest of his life. He died in Palm Springs of lung cancer and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. He was a godfather of country singer David Houston, who like Austin also lived in Minden, Louisiana, during his youth.
"Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up (That Old Gang Of Mine)" is a popular barbershop song, also known as just "That Old Gang Of Mine". The song laments the loss of childhood friendships when growing up into adulthood.
The music was written by Sammy Fain and the lyrics by Irving Kahal and Willie Raskin. The song was published in 1929.

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