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Elmo Tanner Collection

One of the greatest whistlers in the recording industry, Elmo Tanner enjoyed a long association with the Ted Weems Orchestra.

68 old time radio show recordings
(total playtime 33 hours, 12 min)
available in the following formats:

2 MP3 CDs
or
34 Audio CDs


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Play a sample episode from February 09, 1937:

"Trianon Ballroom Chicago"



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Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2019 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Elmo TannerIt has always been hard for a whistler to make it as a professional musician. Perhaps it is because although whistling is a common skill to learn, it is a difficult one to learn to do well. In fact, although it is a lot of fun and satisfying to whistle for your own enjoyment, people around you would generally prefer if you did not. In fact, it is not uncommon to find other people's whistling irritating, so it can be difficult to practice enough to get good enough to become a professional whistler.

In fact, one of the few musicians to make a living as a whistler, Elmo Tanner, was arrested and jailed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for whistling after 10 pm before he made it in the music industry.

Tanner was born in what would later be known as "Music City, USA", Nashville, Tennessee, 1904, but grew up in Detroit, Michigan. As a youngster, he studied violin but poor vision made reading music difficult. He adapted by learning to quickly scan the notes and lyrics on the page and then play, sing, or whistle what he had just read. In 1926, his family returned to the South, this time to Memphis, Tennessee (Elvis Presley's adopted hometown). He attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and worked in a series of odd jobs. One of his jobs had him walking home past a cemetery late in the evening, so he began whistling to keep his spirits up.

Like many other Southern boys during the Prohibition era, Elmo became an enthusiastic automobile racer and became a decent mechanic. While repairing a Ford with a burned rod, the car's owner walked into the shop to find Tanner singing and whistling while he went about his work. That car owner was an announcer for WMC-AM in Nashville, and he invited Elmo to appear on the radio. His short broadcast appearance led to a call from Paramount Records in Chicago, and Elmo moved to the Windy City to try and make a start in the music business.

Elmo TannerAfter making a number of recordings and appearing on several radio stations, Tanner met bandleader Ted Weems. Singer Art Jarrett had just left Weems' outfit, and even though singer Perry Como was part of the act there seemed to be a place for Elmo who also played guitar. Weems even got into a bidding war with station KYW-AM Philadelphia for Tanner's services until Weems offered $100/week. While touring, Weems was delighted to discover Elmo's whistling talent which he had not known of previously. Unlike many whistlers, Tanner had enough of a musical ear that his whistling was generally more melodious than irritating. Like Bing Crosby, he was also able to whistle from his throat by controlling the muscles in his larynx.

Although the Ted Weems Orchestra was one of the most well-rounded bands of the era, Weems began focusing more and more of the act around Elmo's whistling, going so far as taking an insurance policy Tanner's throat with Lloyd's of London. The $10,000 policy would cover medical expenses if Tanner was unable to whistle or pay in full if he lost the ability to perform. Quite a step up from a night in jail in Albuquerque! Perry Como even admitted: "The whistler was the whole band." Several recording acts during the Depression era featured whistlers, and fans often confused Tanner for blind whistling great Fred Lowery. Elmo was often asked if he was really blind, to which he replied, "Only on Saturday night!"

The Weems Orchestra with Elmo Tanner played on the Jack Benny Show for 56 weeks beginning in 1932 and spent two and a half years with Fibber McGee and Molly beginning in 1937. During the War, the entire Weems Orchestra, including Tanner, joined the Merchant Marine. After his discharge, Elmo sought a solo career with some success, expanding into bird imitations for Disney films. While in the service, Weems and Tanner allowed many of their recording contracts to lapse, but a late-night disc jockey in Charlotte, North Carolina, randomly selected a copy of a disc they had cut in 1931 titled "Heartaches". The station began getting calls about the song which had been recorded for both Decca and Victor Records. Both companies re-released the record which became a hit, but because their contracts had lapsed, Weems and Tanner missed out on an estimated $250,000 in royalties. The late success of "Heartaches" did bring Elmo back into Weems outfit until 1950, when he left again to open a restaurant in Memphis.

Elmo found little success in the restaurant business and returned to music after a year and a half. He spent most of the mid-Fifties touring with the Elmo Tanner Quartet. Finally tiring of the travel, he broke up the act in Seattle in 1958. He settled in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he sold Datsuns at a local dealership in the early Sixties before working as a disc jockey at WILZ-AM St. Petersburg. Elmo Tanner passed away on December 20, 1990, at the age of 86.

This collection is also part of the larger, Whistling in Old Time Radio Collection. See also: Fred Lowery.

Text on OTRCAT.com ©2001-2019 OTRCAT INC All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

These classic recordings are available in the following formats:

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    otr mp3 cds are great. We have a cd player in our bedroom and we listen to a half hour every night to get us ready to sleep. Right now we are listening to Fibber McGee and Molly and enjoying it. We now have over 100 cds!

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  • MP3 CDs are delivered by mail. These archival quality MP3 CDs are playable in your computer and many MP3 player devices.



    68 recordings on 2 MP3 CDs for just $10.00
    total playtime 33 hours, 12 min
    Add MP3 CD Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


    Volume 1 - 33 shows - total playtime 16 hours 16 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 1: 5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Beat Band 400109 000 Goody Goodbye Audition Show.mp3
    2. Beat Band 400128 Youre Lucky Guy.mp3
    3. Beat Band 400218 004 Say Si Si.mp3
    4. Beat Band 400225 005 Goody Goodbye.mp3
    5. Beat Band 400310 007 Goody Goodbye.mp3
    6. Beat Band 400317 008 Wearin Of Green.mp3
    7. Beat Band 400324 009 Ma Hes Makin Eyes At Me.mp3
    8. Beat Band 400331 010 I Got My Eyes On You.mp3
    9. Beat Band 400407 011 You Little Heartbreaker You.mp3
    10. Beat Band 400526 018 Oh Golly Im In Love.mp3
    11. Beat Band 400630 023 Manhattan Moon And You.mp3
    12. Beat Band 400707 024 Get That Moon Out Of Your Eyes.mp3
    13. Beat Band 400728 028 I Hear Bluebirds.mp3
    14. Beat Band 400811 029 Im Nobodys Baby.mp3
    15. Beat Band 400818 030 Theres Great Day Coming Manana.mp3
    16. Beat Band 400929 036 It Feels Like Month Of Sundays.mp3
    17. Beat Band 401006 037 Down Argentine Way.mp3
    18. Beat Band 401020 039 Whos Who In Your Heart.mp3
    19. Beat Band 401208 047 Toot That Trumpet.mp3
    20. Beat Band 401229 049 How About You.mp3
    21. Beat Band 410105 050 Its High Time.mp3
    22. Beat Band 410209 055 Love Is.mp3
    23. Fmm 360622 0063 Employment Agency.mp3
    24. Fmm 360720 067 In Trailer Camp.mp3
    25. Fmm 360803 069 Captain Of Ship.mp3
    26. Fmm 360810 070 Old Cavalryman Mcgee.mp3
    27. Fmm 360817 071 Parachute Jump.mp3
    28. Fmm 360824 072 Solving Murder Mystery.mp3
    29. Fmm 360831 073 Eighteenth Wedding Anniversary.mp3
    30. Fmm 360907 074 Judge Of Court Of Domestic Relations.mp3
    31. Fmm 360914 075 At Public Dance Hall.mp3
    32. Fmm 360928 077 At Race Track Incomplete.mp3
    33. Fmm 361005 078 Mcgee Shops For Clothes.mp3
    Volume 2 - 35 shows - total playtime 16 hours 56 minutes
    MP3 CD
    Volume 2: 5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Fmm 361012 079 Dude Ranch.mp3
    2. Fmm 361207 087 Managing Jewelry Store.mp3
    3. Fmm 361214 088 Bucking Bronco Contest.mp3
    4. Fmm 361221 089 Running Post Office.mp3
    5. Fmm 361228 090 Bowl Of Chicken Soup.mp3
    6. Fmm 370301 Beware Of Pickpockets On Bus.mp3
    7. Fmm 370308 Telegram To Sponsor.mp3
    8. Fmm 370315 Hardware Dealer.mp3
    9. Fmm 370322 Interviewing Theatrical Talent.mp3
    10. Fmm 370405 Gardening.mp3
    11. Fmm 370412 Night Club Owner Mcgee.mp3
    12. Fmm 370419 An Officer Of Bank.mp3
    13. Fmm 370426 Take Off For Hollywood.mp3
    14. Fmm 370719 Homecoming Program.mp3
    15. Fmm 370726 Grocery Store Manager.mp3
    16. Fmm 370802 Down On Farm.mp3
    17. Fmm 370816 Newspaper Circulation Manager.mp3
    18. Fmm 370830 Sports Reporter.mp3
    19. Fmm 370906 Acting School Principal.mp3
    20. Fmm 370913 0127 Drama In Ancient Rome.mp3
    21. Fmm 371004 Supervisor Of State Fair.mp3
    22. Fmm 371011 0131 Shopping For New Car.mp3
    23. Fmm 371018 Man On Street Broadcast.mp3
    24. Fmm 371101 Trimming Store Window.mp3
    25. Fmm 371108 Introducing Clark Dennis.mp3
    26. Fmm 371115 Football Ringer.mp3
    27. Fmm 371122 Winning Scandinavian Sweepstakes.mp3
    28. Fmm 371206 Dinner Is Not Served.mp3
    29. Fmm 371213 Mcgee Matrimonial Agency.mp3
    30. Fmm 371220 Detective Mcgee.mp3
    31. Fmm 371227 Heir To An Estate With Oil Wells.mp3
    32. Fmm 380103 143 Travel Bureau Manager.mp3
    33. Fmm 380110 144 Getting Laundry Done.mp3
    34. Fmm 381220 0184 Christmas Gift For Mcgees Nephew.mp3
    35. Ted Weems 370210 Trianon Ballroom Chgo Mbs.mp3
  • MP3 downloads are available instantly after purchase!



    68 recordings on 2 MP3 Collection Downloads for just $10.00
    total playtime 33 hours, 12 min
    Add MP3 CD Collection to Cart

    Click here to see disc contents


    Volume 1 - 33 shows - total playtime 16 hours 16 minutes
    Instant Download
    Volume 1: $5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Beat Band 400109 000 Goody Goodbye Audition Show.mp3
    2. Beat Band 400128 Youre Lucky Guy.mp3
    3. Beat Band 400218 004 Say Si Si.mp3
    4. Beat Band 400225 005 Goody Goodbye.mp3
    5. Beat Band 400310 007 Goody Goodbye.mp3
    6. Beat Band 400317 008 Wearin Of Green.mp3
    7. Beat Band 400324 009 Ma Hes Makin Eyes At Me.mp3
    8. Beat Band 400331 010 I Got My Eyes On You.mp3
    9. Beat Band 400407 011 You Little Heartbreaker You.mp3
    10. Beat Band 400526 018 Oh Golly Im In Love.mp3
    11. Beat Band 400630 023 Manhattan Moon And You.mp3
    12. Beat Band 400707 024 Get That Moon Out Of Your Eyes.mp3
    13. Beat Band 400728 028 I Hear Bluebirds.mp3
    14. Beat Band 400811 029 Im Nobodys Baby.mp3
    15. Beat Band 400818 030 Theres Great Day Coming Manana.mp3
    16. Beat Band 400929 036 It Feels Like Month Of Sundays.mp3
    17. Beat Band 401006 037 Down Argentine Way.mp3
    18. Beat Band 401020 039 Whos Who In Your Heart.mp3
    19. Beat Band 401208 047 Toot That Trumpet.mp3
    20. Beat Band 401229 049 How About You.mp3
    21. Beat Band 410105 050 Its High Time.mp3
    22. Beat Band 410209 055 Love Is.mp3
    23. Fmm 360622 0063 Employment Agency.mp3
    24. Fmm 360720 067 In Trailer Camp.mp3
    25. Fmm 360803 069 Captain Of Ship.mp3
    26. Fmm 360810 070 Old Cavalryman Mcgee.mp3
    27. Fmm 360817 071 Parachute Jump.mp3
    28. Fmm 360824 072 Solving Murder Mystery.mp3
    29. Fmm 360831 073 Eighteenth Wedding Anniversary.mp3
    30. Fmm 360907 074 Judge Of Court Of Domestic Relations.mp3
    31. Fmm 360914 075 At Public Dance Hall.mp3
    32. Fmm 360928 077 At Race Track Incomplete.mp3
    33. Fmm 361005 078 Mcgee Shops For Clothes.mp3
    Volume 2 - 35 shows - total playtime 16 hours 56 minutes
    Instant Download
    Volume 2: $5.00
    Add To Cart
    1. Fmm 361012 079 Dude Ranch.mp3
    2. Fmm 361207 087 Managing Jewelry Store.mp3
    3. Fmm 361214 088 Bucking Bronco Contest.mp3
    4. Fmm 361221 089 Running Post Office.mp3
    5. Fmm 361228 090 Bowl Of Chicken Soup.mp3
    6. Fmm 370301 Beware Of Pickpockets On Bus.mp3
    7. Fmm 370308 Telegram To Sponsor.mp3
    8. Fmm 370315 Hardware Dealer.mp3
    9. Fmm 370322 Interviewing Theatrical Talent.mp3
    10. Fmm 370405 Gardening.mp3
    11. Fmm 370412 Night Club Owner Mcgee.mp3
    12. Fmm 370419 An Officer Of Bank.mp3
    13. Fmm 370426 Take Off For Hollywood.mp3
    14. Fmm 370719 Homecoming Program.mp3
    15. Fmm 370726 Grocery Store Manager.mp3
    16. Fmm 370802 Down On Farm.mp3
    17. Fmm 370816 Newspaper Circulation Manager.mp3
    18. Fmm 370830 Sports Reporter.mp3
    19. Fmm 370906 Acting School Principal.mp3
    20. Fmm 370913 0127 Drama In Ancient Rome.mp3
    21. Fmm 371004 Supervisor Of State Fair.mp3
    22. Fmm 371011 0131 Shopping For New Car.mp3
    23. Fmm 371018 Man On Street Broadcast.mp3
    24. Fmm 371101 Trimming Store Window.mp3
    25. Fmm 371108 Introducing Clark Dennis.mp3
    26. Fmm 371115 Football Ringer.mp3
    27. Fmm 371122 Winning Scandinavian Sweepstakes.mp3
    28. Fmm 371206 Dinner Is Not Served.mp3
    29. Fmm 371213 Mcgee Matrimonial Agency.mp3
    30. Fmm 371220 Detective Mcgee.mp3
    31. Fmm 371227 Heir To An Estate With Oil Wells.mp3
    32. Fmm 380103 143 Travel Bureau Manager.mp3
    33. Fmm 380110 144 Getting Laundry Done.mp3
    34. Fmm 381220 0184 Christmas Gift For Mcgees Nephew.mp3
    35. Ted Weems 370210 Trianon Ballroom Chgo Mbs.mp3
  • Standard Audio CDs are delivered by mail on archival quality media with up to 60 minutes on each CD and play in all CD players



    68 recordings on 34 Audio CDs
    total playtime 33 hours, 12 min

    Elmo Tanner Disc A001

    1. Fmm 360622 0063 Employment Agency
    2. Fmm 360720 067 In Trailer Camp

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A002

    1. Fmm 360803 069 Captain Of Ship
    2. Fmm 360810 070 Old Cavalryman Mcgee

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A003

    1. Fmm 360817 071 Parachute Jump
    2. Fmm 360824 072 Solving Murder Mystery

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A004

    1. Fmm 360831 073 Eighteenth Wedding Anniversary
    2. Fmm 360907 074 Judge Of Court Of Domestic Relations

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A005

    1. Fmm 360914 075 At Public Dance Hall
    2. Fmm 360928 077 At Race Track Incomplete

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A006

    1. Fmm 361005 078 Mcgee Shops For Clothes
    2. Fmm 361012 079 Dude Ranch

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A007

    1. Fmm 361207 087 Managing Jewelry Store
    2. Fmm 361214 088 Bucking Bronco Contest

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A008

    1. Fmm 361221 089 Running Post Office
    2. Fmm 361228 090 Bowl Of Chicken Soup

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A009

    1. Ted Weems 370210 Trianon Ballroom Chgo Mbs
    2. Fmm 370301 Beware Of Pickpockets On Bus

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A010

    1. Fmm 370308 Telegram To Sponsor
    2. Fmm 370315 Hardware Dealer

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A011

    1. Fmm 370322 Interviewing Theatrical Talent
    2. Fmm 370405 Gardening

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A012

    1. Fmm 370412 Night Club Owner Mcgee
    2. Fmm 370419 An Officer Of Bank

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A013

    1. Fmm 370426 Take Off For Hollywood
    2. Fmm 370719 Homecoming Program

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A014

    1. Fmm 370726 Grocery Store Manager
    2. Fmm 370802 Down On Farm

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A015

    1. Fmm 370816 Newspaper Circulation Manager
    2. Fmm 370830 Sports Reporter

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A016

    1. Fmm 370906 Acting School Principal
    2. Fmm 370913 0127 Drama In Ancient Rome

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A017

    1. Fmm 371004 Supervisor Of State Fair
    2. Fmm 371011 0131 Shopping For New Car

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A018

    1. Fmm 371018 Man On Street Broadcast
    2. Fmm 371101 Trimming Store Window

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A019

    1. Fmm 371108 Introducing Clark Dennis
    2. Fmm 371115 Football Ringer

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A020

    1. Fmm 371122 Winning Scandinavian Sweepstakes
    2. Fmm 371206 Dinner Is Not Served

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A021

    1. Fmm 371213 Mcgee Matrimonial Agency
    2. Fmm 371220 Detective Mcgee

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A022

    1. Fmm 371227 Heir To An Estate With Oil Wells
    2. Fmm 380103 143 Travel Bureau Manager

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A023

    1. Fmm 380110 144 Getting Laundry Done
    2. Fmm 381220 0184 Christmas Gift For Mcgees Nephew

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A024

    1. Beat Band 400109 000 Goody Goodbye Audition Show
    2. Beat Band 400128 Youre Lucky Guy

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A025

    1. Beat Band 400218 004 Say Si Si
    2. Beat Band 400225 005 Goody Goodbye

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A026

    1. Beat Band 400310 007 Goody Goodbye
    2. Beat Band 400317 008 Wearin Of Green

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A027

    1. Beat Band 400324 009 Ma Hes Makin Eyes At Me
    2. Beat Band 400331 010 I Got My Eyes On You

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A028

    1. Beat Band 400407 011 You Little Heartbreaker You
    2. Beat Band 400526 018 Oh Golly Im In Love

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A029

    1. Beat Band 400630 023 Manhattan Moon And You
    2. Beat Band 400707 024 Get That Moon Out Of Your Eyes

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A030

    1. Beat Band 400728 028 I Hear Bluebirds
    2. Beat Band 400811 029 Im Nobodys Baby

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A031

    1. Beat Band 400818 030 Theres Great Day Coming Manana
    2. Beat Band 400929 036 It Feels Like Month Of Sundays

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A032

    1. Beat Band 401006 037 Down Argentine Way
    2. Beat Band 401020 039 Whos Who In Your Heart

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A033

    1. Beat Band 401208 047 Toot That Trumpet
    2. Beat Band 401229 049 How About You

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
    Elmo Tanner Disc A034

    1. Beat Band 410105 050 Its High Time
    2. Beat Band 410209 055 Love Is

    Add Audio CD to Cart - $5.00
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