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Harry Barris

Composer, Vocalist, Actor, Pianist, Bandleader

(1905 - 1962)

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Harry Barris was a professional pianist at 14 and touring with his own group by 17. In 1926 when Paul Whiteman, at the suggestion of his violinist Matty Matlock, hired Barris to fill out the vocal duo of Bing Crosby and Al Rinker (Mildred Bailey’s brother) The Rhythm Boys were born. For three years they were the featured vocalists with Whiteman’s band which included legendary cornetist Bix Biederbecke with whom they recorded Barris’ “Mississippi Mud” in 1928 with great success. They appeared in the 1930 film King of Jazz with the Whiteman group.

Later in 1930 the trio joined Gus Arnheim whose orchestra was very popular on the west coast and played out of Los Angeles’ prestigious Cocoanut Grove. It was with the Arnheim group that Crosby had his first big hit as a soloist in 1931 with the Barris / Gordon Clifford composition, “I Surrender Dear.”

When Bing left to pursue a solo career, Barris sang for Jimmie Grier, led bands of his own, and continued to compose. He appeared in small roles in dozens of films, often without credit as a musician or bandleader. He also entertained troops during WWII with comedian Joe E. Brown. Another of his famous compositions is “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” written with Ted Koehler and Billy Moll and recorded by Crosby in 1931.

In 1943 The Rhythm Boys were reunited for the last time on Paul Whiteman Presents.

- Sandra Burlingame

Bing Crosby with Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra

Bing Crosby (Includes two tracks featuring the Rhythm Boys)

I Surrender Dear

Illinois Jacquet

I Surrender Dear

Various Artists

I Surrender,Dear

Bing Crosby

Reading and Viewing

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Gary Giddins

Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams-the Early Years, 1903-1940

Back Bay Books

Arthur Freed, Harry Barris, Frances Langford

It Was so Beautiful (And You Were Mine) with a Photograph of Frances Langford on Front Cover

De Silva, Brown and Henderson

Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Brian Donlevy, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, J. Carrol Naish, Jack Teagarden, Harry Barris

Birth Of The Blues/Blue Skies - Double Feature

Universal Studios


James Cagney, Evelyn Daw, William Frawley, Mona Barrie, Gene Lockhart, Harry Barris

Something to Sing About

Image Entertainment


Harry Barris plays a bandleader in "Here Come the Waves"

Bing Crosby Box Set (1999)


The Paul Whiteman Orchestra including Bing Crosby and the Rhythm Boys

The King of Jazz (1930)


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