Johnny Desmond (Giovanni Alfredo De Simone)

Johnny Desmond

Johnny Desmond was born in Detroit, Michigan; and as a boy, sang on a local radio station, but at age 15 he quit to work at his father’s grocery. He still retained a love of music, however, and briefly attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music before heading to the nightclub circuit, playing piano and singing. In 1939 he formed his own singing group. The group was first called the Downbeats, but after being hired to work with Bob Crosby’s big band in 1940, it was renamed the Bob-O-Links. The group appeared on 15 commercial recordings by the Crosby orchestra, including two charted hits, “You Forgot About Me”, and “Do You Care?”. In the middle of 1941 Desmond decided to leave the Bob-O-Links to go solo. He became the featured vocalist for Gene Krupa’s band, replacing Howard Dulaney, in September, recording over a dozen songs, the last of which was “All Those Wonderful Years”, a song from the movie Keep ’em Flying, which reached No. 21 on the US charts. In 1942 he enlisted in the United States Army, but his military service was in fact a continuation of his singing career. He was a member of Glenn Miller’s Army Air Forces Orchestra and from November 1943 until some time in 1944 he toured Europe, mainly serving as a replacement for Tony Martin. He made a number of radio broadcasts with the Miller band and was even given his own show by the British Broadcasting Corporation, “A Soldier and a Song.”

When the war ended, Johnny Desmond took a job on The Breakfast Club, a radio variety program out of Chicago. He made a number of charted hit recordings: “Don’t You Remember Me?” (recorded 1946, reaching No. 21 on the charts), “Guilty” (recorded December 6, 1946, reaching No. 12), “C’est si bon” (recorded May 11, 1949, reaching No. 25), “Don’t Cry, Joe” (recorded May 21, 1949, reaching No. 22), “Just Say I Love Her” (recorded January 20, 1950, reaching No. 24), “The Picnic Song” (recorded April 1, 1950, reaching No. 20), “Because of You” (recorded February 10, 1951, reaching No. 17), and “Woman” (recorded September 15, 1953, reaching No. 9). On September 24, 1953 he joined with Don Cornell and Alan Dale to record “The Gang that Sang ‘Heart of My Heart’,” a No. 10 hit on the chart. During this time he was switching recording companies frequently. The 1946 recordings were made for RCA Victor, the 1949-51 recordings for MGM, and the 1953 recordings for Coral Records. In the 1940s and 1950s, many artists would record the same song at about the same time, and some chart hits for Desmond were also major hits for other singers. Thus “Guilty” (No. 12 for Desmond) was an even bigger hit for Margaret Whiting, with a No. 4 position. “Because of You” (No. 17 for Desmond) was a No. 1 hit for Tony Bennett. “The High and the Mighty” (No. 17 for Desmond) was No. 4 for Les Baxter and his Orchestra. And the Desmond/Dale/Cornell version of “Heart of My Heart” reached No. 10, but the Four Aces’ version peaked at No. 7 on the charts. In some cases, Johnny Desmond’s version was the biggest hit. Teresa Brewer also recorded “The Picnic Song” but her version did not chart. “Woman” was recorded by José Ferrer (back to back with a recording of “Man” by his wife, Rosemary Clooney), but Desmond’s was the bigger version in the US (though the UK Singles Chart favored the Ferrer recording). In addition, Desmond also recorded a number of versions of songs that did not chart but became hits for other singers: for example, “Mister and Mississippi” (a hit for Patti Page) and “Too Young” (a hit for Nat King Cole).

Johnny Desmond was a guest on the early television series, Faye Emerson’s Wonderful Town, which aired on CBS from 1951 to 1952. In 1957, Desmond joined Boris Karloff in a guest appearance on NBC’s The Gisele MacKenzie Show. In 1958, he was cast as a regular, Jim Kendall, in Joan Caulfield’s short-lived NBC sitcom, Sally. In 1961, Desmond co-starred on the CBS summer replacement series Glenn Miller Time, which featured the Miller orchestra under the direction of host Ray McKinley. Johnny Desmond died of cancer in Los Angeles, California at the age of 65.

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  • November, 14, 1919
  • USA
  • Detroit, Michigan


  • September, 06, 1985
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • cancer


  • Holy Cross Cemetery
  • Culver City, California
  • USA

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