1956 Eddie Heywood – Soft Summer Breeze
Eddie Heywood Jr. grew up in Atlanta. His father had been a popular jazz and blues pianist in the 1910s and 1920s, and he taught Eddie to play the piano. Eddie played professionally by the time he was only fourteen-years-old.
Eddie played with several bands in the thirties and moved to New York City in 1938. Besides leading his own band, Eddie sometimes played piano for artists like Billie Holiday. He put together his own six-man band in 1943, and in 1944 they recorded a version of Begin The Beguine that reached #16 on the Hot 100. The single sold over a million copies and led to several years of successful appearances.
In 1947, partial paralysis of his hands kept Eddie from playing the piano at all for three years.
Hugo Winterhalter played saxophone in several orchestras and taught music. He arranged music and played for Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, and others through the thirties and early forties. In 1948 he became the music director for MGM Records. He moved to Columbia Records and his orchestra and chorus had their own top ten single in 1949 with Jealous Heart.
In 1950, Hugo moved to RCA Victor. Besides recording a series of hit records, he also arranged music for Perry Como, Harry Belafonte, Eddie Fisher, and others.
In 1954, Hugo and Eddie recorded Land Of Dreams together, and the single reached #22 on the charts. After that success, Eddie began recording several albums each year.
In 1956, Eddie wrote and recorded Soft Summer Breeze. The single peaked at #11 on the Hot 100. The song sounds very familiar, but somehow not quite right because of our familiarity with his other 1956 single overshadows it. They credited Canadian Sunset to Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra With Eddie Heywood and that single reached #2 on the Hot 100 two months later.
Neither Eddie nor Hugo reached the Hot 100 again, but they each continued recording.
Eddie again suffered with paralysis in his hands for three years beginning in 1966, but he successfully began playing again in the eighties.
Eddie has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Eddie died in 1989 after struggling with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
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