Big Band vocalist Harry Prime, who recorded such hits as “Until” with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, has passed away from natural causes at his home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Prime was 97.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s, Harry Prime sang with many prominent big band orchestras, including Tommy Dorsey, Randy Brooks, Jack Fina, and the Ralph Flanagan Orchestra. Following a brief attempt at a baseball career, Prime went to work for the United States Postal Service. It was during the war that Harry, with a love for singing, was invited to perform at the Four Hundred Club in Washington, DC during an “amateur night”. He was an instant hit, and soon after the club owners asked Harry to perform regularly. He soon quit his job with the postal service in favor of singing.
It was while performing at the Four Hundred Club that Harry was discovered by big band leader Jimmy Dorsey, who invited Prime to join the Dorsey Orchestra and go on a national tour. In the 1950’s he was ranked by Billboard Magazine as one of the top twenty five singers in the nation, ahead of Dean Martin, Dennis Day and even Eddie Fisher. The band that he sang with at the time, The Ralph Flanagan Orchestra, was rated as the best in the country during Prime’s tenure.
During the post-war period, Harry Prime sang with the orchestras of Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Fina, Ralph Flanagan, Randy Brooks and of course Jimmy Dorsey. In the recording studios, Prime recorded some 100 songs, including the popular ballad “Until”, which eventually became a huge hit for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, selling more than one million copies.
Following a decade of touring and recording with various big bands, Prime eventually returned permanently to the Philadelphia area to work in radio. Prime became a popular disc jockey and radio host at a number stations in the region.
Retiring from radio in the early 80’s, Prime continued to follow his passion for music, singing at restaurants and clubs in and around the Philadelphia area, where he once again developed a strong following. Prime continued to perform after relocating to Florida with his wife, where he frequently appeared at the Epicure Café in East Falls and sang at private events well into his 90’s.
Mr. Prime leaves behind five sons, two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Harry Prime performs “Until” here.