Dry Bones as Performed by The Delta Rhythm Boys (1953)

I know I usually don’t go back this far in selecting my songs to share but I was just recently listening to this song and couldn’t resist blogging about it. There were no Billboard music charts back in 1953 but I am sure this song was widely know and loved and if you don’t love this song you must be from outer space. But then again I am sure the aliens would love it as soon as they hear it.

“Dry Bones” is one of those songs that I don’t know when or where I first heard it — I just know that I have always known it. It is a traditional Negro Spiritual that the group put out on their RCA Victor album (recorded in 1941 but released in 1953) entitled “Dry Bones”. I think that today every American knows it whether it be as a gospel song, a novelty song or a campfire song. 😉

A short and concise biography of the Delta Rhythm Boys, who made the most enduring version of “Dry Bones”, can be found at Singers.com and it reads as follows:

Formed in 1934 at Langston University, Oklahoma the original line-up of the group was bass Lee Gaines, baritone Kelsey Pharr, first tenor lead Carl Jones, second tenor Traverse Crawford, and pianist/arranger Rene DeKnight. The Delta Rhythm Boys exuded a classy elegance and sophistication that made them the most renowned and respected of the 40s groups who sang a blend of jubilee, pop and swing. In 1936 the group transferred to Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and began singing under the name Frederick Hall Quintet, after their mentor, the school’s musical director. By 1938 the group had made it to New York and were appearing in Broadway shows such as Sing Out The News and The Hot Mikado as the Delta Rhythm Boys During 1941 they had success with two of their most memorable recordings, “Dry Bones” and “Take The ‘A’ Train”, and also with recordings backing Mildred Bailey. The Delta Rhythm Boys also appeared in films for Universal during 1943-45. In 1945 the group were established on radio in programmes including Amos And Andy and The Joan Davis Show. In 1945 Decca teamed the Deltas with Ella Fitzgerald for some notable recordings.” (Source)

The Delta Rhythm Boys moved to Europe permanently in 1956 and continued to perform together until the death of co-founder and bass singer Lee Gaines on July 15, 1987.

Don’t you just love this song? Do let me know how much. I welcome your comments. Oh, and do pick up a cd compilation by the Delta Rhythm Boys. The harmonies will be magnificent — I guarantee it.

I thank you for stopping by.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My parents had an album by the Delta Rhythm Boys and Dry Bones was on it so I first heard it as a child. Nobody performs Dry Bones as well as the Delta Rhythm Boys.

    • You summed up the gospel truth in that one sentence Margo! “Nobody performs Dry Bones as well as the Delta Rhythm Boys.”

      Thanks for checking in. I appreciate your company.

  2. You’re welcome.


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