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Harry Owens Birth name Harry Robert Owens[1] Born April 18, 1902(1902-04-18) O'Neill, Nebraska Died December 12, 1986(1986-12-12) (aged 84) Eugene, Oregon Genres Hawaiian music Occupations Musician, Composer, arranger Instruments Cornet Years active 1926–? Labels Columbia, Hamilton, Capitol, Decca Associated acts Harry Owens and his Royal Hawaiians Bing Crosby Hilo Hattie Don McDiarmid Harry Owens (18 April 1902 – 12 December 1986) was an American composer, bandleader and songwriter. Contents 1 Biography 1.1 Early years 1.2 Hawaii 1.3 Bing Crosby and Sweet Leilani 1.4 Movies and television 2 Recognition 3 Discography 4 References 5 External links Biography Harry Robert Owens was born April 18, 1902, in O'Neill, Nebraska. He learned how to play a cornet[2] in a small band on an Indian reservation in Montana. Early years He worked the vaudeville circuit by age 14. Owens studied for a law career. He started his band in 1926, when he was booked into the Lafayette Cafe in Los Angeles, and auditioned a young Bing Crosby. Hawaii The big turning point in his career came in 1934 with his arrival in Hawaii and his appointment as music director[2] of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He set to learning all he could about the local culture by mixing and working with native Hawaiians. He learned many traditional and more modern Hawaiian songs and tunes which he wrote down and orchestrated using Western notation for the first time. Many had never been written down before, much less orchestrated. He reorganized the Royal Hawaiians by splitting the band into Hawaiian and haole instrumental sections. His band featured the steel guitar, which had a trademark sound, producing tuneful and rhythmic dance music with a strong Hawaiian flavour. Hilo Hattie was a featured performer with The Royal Hawaiian Hotel Orchestra. During the 1940s, Owens and his orchestra were featured on the popular Saturday night radio show, Hawaii Calls. Bing Crosby and Sweet Leilani Bing Crosby and Harry began their friendship when both played the Lafayette Cafe in Los Angeles in [3] 1926. In 1934, Owens wrote Sweet Leilani[4] to celebrate the birth of his daughter, and made it his signature tune as leader of the Royal Hawaiian Orchestra at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. While vacationing in Honolulu with his wife Dixie Lee, Crosby heard the Owens song and asked to include it in his upcoming movie Waikiki Wedding. Harry was hesitant, but Bing convinced him. Producer Arthur Hornblow, Jr. was a hard sell. Hornblow dug in his heels that the song would not be included in the movie. Crosby retreated to the golf course and refused to return until Hornblow agreed to include the song in the movie. Sweet Leilani won Best Song category at the 1938 10th Academy Awards, and became Crosby's first [4] gold record. Movies and television Harry Owens and his Royal Hawaiians played Sweet Leilani in the 1938 Fred MacMurray film Cocoanut Grove. The soundtrack also featured the Owens penned songs Dreamy Hawaiian Moon and Cocoanut Grove. In 1949, Owens started to appear regularly on television. He made regular appearances in California, both in person and on television. He established the hapa haole style of Hawaii music (native music as interpreted by foreigners) which was developed by Sonny Cunha and Johnny Noble, and he enjoyed significant commercial success with this style of music-making. Owens is credited with about 300 hapa haole songs, many of which remain popular with musicians playing in this style. Owens was a great advocate of Hawaii[2] and things Hawaiian. He founded a tourism company and music publishing business. He died in Eugene, Oregon. Recognition The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts awarded Owens the 1987 Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award[5] for his substantial contributions to the entertainment industry in Hawaii. Discography Voice Of The Trade Winds (1957) LP Album T333 (Capitol) References ^ "Harry Robert Owens". Discogs. Retrieved 15 June 2010.  ^ a b c Gordon, Mike (2 July 2006). "Harry Owens". The Honolulu Advertiser.  ^ Walker, Leo (1989). The Big Band Almanac. Da Capo Press. pp. 331. ISBN 978-0306803451.  ^ a b Gudens, Richard (2002). Bing Crosby-Crooner of the Century. Celebrity Profiles Publishing Co.. pp. 41–46. ISBN 978-1575792484.  ^ "Na Hoku Hanohano Award". Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts. Retrieved 15 June 2010.  Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts External links Harry Owens discography at Discogs Harry Owens' entry in IMDb v · d · eAcademy Award for Best Original Song (1934–1940) "The Continental" • Music: Con Conrad • Lyrics: Herb Magidson (1934) · "Lullaby of Broadway" • Music: Harry Warren • Lyrics: Al Dubin (1935) · "The Way You Look Tonight" • Music: Jerome Kern • Lyrics: Dorothy Fields (1936) · "Sweet Leilani" • Music and lyrics: Harry Owens (1937) · "Thanks for the Memory" • Music: Ralph Rainger • Lyrics: Leo Robin (1938) · "Over the Rainbow" • Music: Harold Arlen • Lyrics: E. Y. Harburg (1939) · "When You Wish upon a Star" • Music: Leigh Harline • Lyrics: Ned Washington (1940) Complete list · (1934–1940) · (1941–1950) · (1951–1960) · (1961–1970) · (1971–1980) · (1981–1990) · (1991–2000) · (2001–2010) Persondata Name Owens, Harry Alternative names Short description Date of birth 18 April 1902 Place of birth Date of death 12 December 1986 Place of death