Bing Crosby was the fourth of seven children of Tacoma, Washington, brewery bookkeeper Harry Lowe Crosby and Kate Harrigan Crosby. He studied law at Gonzaga University in Spokane but was more interested in playing the drums and singing with a local band.
Bing and the band's piano player, Al Rinker, left Spokane for Los Angeles in 1925. In the early 1930s Bing's brother Everett sent a record of Bing singing I Surrender, Dear to the president of CBS. His live performances from New York were carried over the national radio network for 20 consecutive weeks in 1932.
His radio success led Paramount Pictures to include him in The Big Broadcast (1932), a film featuring radio favorites. His songs about not needing a bundle of money to make life happy was the right message for the decade of the Great Depression. His relaxed, low-key style carried over into the series of Road comedies he made with pal Bob Hope.
Crosby has had numerous jazz affiliations including with his first vocal group, The Rhythm Boys, but is normally classified as a pop music figure. Be that as it may, he remains associated with jazz through his many appearances with jazz greats, through his love for the music of jazz, and through his singing on several swinging jazz sides and albums.
The nickname “Bing” came at an early age and is really short for “Bingo,” a character in the comic strip “The Bingville Bugle” which he loved to read as a child. Crosby never studied music seriously. He was blessed with a naturally warm, deep, resonant, and appealing voice and learned how to phrase with it almost by osmosis. In the early 30’s Crosby’s chumming around with the jazz greats of the day helped him pick up on jazz phrasing. He claimed, I used to hang around The Dorseys and Bix and Bunny Berigan and Glenn Miller and Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang - all the musicians I admired - and I was having a helluva good time. I really had no idea that I was learning anything. But I certainly was.