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In the early 1940s, Walter Gross wrote a melody, known informally as “Walter’s Tune” which he played primarily for friends. In 1946 Jack Lawrence approached Gross about writing lyrics for “Walter’s Tune” and while Gross originally didn’t like the new title, “Tenderly,” he came around. When he became Artists and Repertoire Director at Musicraft, shortly thereafter he arranged for Sarah Vaughan to record “Tenderly”, which became her first solo hit. Gross served as conductor/ arranger/ pianist on Rosemary Clooney’s 1952 recording which sold a million copies, solidly establishing the song among pop and jazz standards.

Walter Gross (1909 – 1967) as a child was a piano prodigy who went on to become a successful pianist, composer, conductor and record industry executive. In the 1930s he performed with Paul Whiteman, Andre Kostelanetz, Tommy Dorsey and Raymond Scott. A CBS radio staff pianist in the 1930s he led the orchestra for Frank Sinatra’s 1942 program “Reflections”.

Jack Lawrence (1912-2009) was a lyricist, composer, vocalist, and theater owner. In 1932 he also obliged his family by graduating with a doctorate in podiatry, then went into music. In 1938 he wrote lyrics for Frankie Carle’s “Sunrise Serenade” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Vagabond Dreams”. In 1942 he wrote a song which he named “Linda”, for the one-year-old daughter of his attorney; Linda grew up and married Paul McCartney. The Ink Spots recording of “If I Didn’t Care” was their first major hit, along with “All or Nothing at All”, while the latter was picked up by Harry James, and became Frank Sinatra’s first solo hit in 1943. During WWII while serving in the Merchant Marines he wrote “Heave Ho, My Lads, Heave Ho”, which became the official U. S. Maritime Service song. He wrote 1940’s “Yes, My Darling Daughter” which became Dinah Shore’s first song. In 1946 his lyrics for “La Mer” by Charles Trenet became “Beyond the Sea”, which was a hit for Bobby Darin. In the 1980s, having become a theatre owner he produced “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music” and co-produced “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.”

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