Bing -- Oct. 11, 1977

Bing's recording output began diminishing dramatically in the late 1960s. From 1969 through 1974 he recorded only two albums. One was a Christmas album ("A Time to be Jolly") and the other was with Count Basie and his orchestra ("Bing 'n' Basie"). Moreover, by the end of 1973 Bing was not well. He suffered from chest pains and fever. On New Year's Eve he felt so ill that he consented to be hospitalized. Both Bing and Kathryn thought he had lung cancer. On Jan. 13 a tumor the size of a small orange was removed from Bing's left lung. But the tumor was not cancerous. It was the result of a rare fungal infection that Bing had probably picked up on an overseas safari the previous year.

Bing's recovery was slow, but when he did recover he returned with a renewed vigor. He recorded 10 albums the last three years of his life and began performing live concerts again, which he had not done since World War II. During one of these concerts, a nationally-televised celebration of his 50th anniversary in show business in March 1977, Bing fell backwards into an orchestra pit and ruptured a disc in his back. He was hospitalized for a month, but in August resumed a hectic schedule. He flew to Oslo, Norway, to do a concert, and then to England to tape his Christmas special, "Bing Crosby's Merry Olde Christmas," which included Twiggy and David Bowie as guests. On Sept. 12-14 he recorded his final album, "Seasons," with the Pete Moore Orchestra.

Bing's next stop was a two-week engagement at the London Palladium with his family, comedian Ted Rogers and Rosemary Clooney. Then he and his troup moved on to Brighton where they performed their final concert on Oct. 10 to a sold-out theatre. The next day he dropped by the BBC studios as a guest on the Alan Dell radio show. Here he sang 8 songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. His last song was the nostalgic "Once in a While." BBC Records later released these recordings on disc, "Bing: The Final Chapter" (BBC-22398). Later that day Bing posed for pictures for his "Seasons" album, including the photo shown here. The next day Bing flew to Spain to play golf.


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