Kay Starr – January 1999. Photo by Alan C. Teeple


Full Name: Katherine La Verne Starks

Description: Vocalist, USA

Known For: Known for – “Changing Partners” (1953) – ” Wheel Of Fortune” (1952)

Instruments: Voice

Music Styles: Easy Listening , Jazz

Location: United States of America

Date Born: 21st July 1922
Location Born: Dougherty, Oklahoma, United States of America

Died: November 3, 2016 (aged 94)
Beverly Hills, California

Photo Comments: Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;

Web Site:  The Kay Starr homepage

Other Links: See below:



Kay Starr

An American jazz and popular singer.

Kay’s aunt Nora was impressed by her 7-year-old niece’s singing and arranged for her to sing on a Dallas radio station, WRR.

Eventually she had her own 15-minute show.

She sang pop and “hillbilly” songs with a piano accompaniment.

By age 10 she was making $3 a night, which was quite a salary in the Depression days.

When Kay’s father changed jobs, the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where she continued performing on the radio.

Vocalist of the fifties, Kay Starr got her break with Band leader and violinist Joe Venuti when he came to Memphis to play but the contract stated there must be a female vocalist, hence the Kay Starr career was on it’s way.

Although she had brief stints in 1939 with Bob Crosby and Glenn Miller (who hired her in July of that year when his regular singer, Marion Hutton, was sick), she spent most of her next few years with Venuti, until he dissolved his band in 1942.

After finishing high school, she moved to Los Angeles and signed with Wingy Manone’s band; then from 1943 to 1945 she sang with Charlie Barnet’s band.

In 1946 she became a soloist, and in 1947 signed a solo contract with Capitol Records.

Around 1950 Starr made a trip back home and heard a fiddle recording of Pee Wee King’s song, “Bonaparte’s Retreat”.

She liked it so much that she wanted to record it, and contacted Roy Acuff’s publishing house in Nashville, Tennessee, and spoke to Acuff directly.

Eventually Acuff came up with a new lyric, and “Bonaparte’s Retreat” became her biggest hit up to that point, with close to a million sales.

In 1955, she signed with RCA Victor Records. However, at this time, traditional pop music was being superseded by rock and roll, and Kay had only one hit, which is sometimes considered her attempt to sing rock and roll and sometimes as a song making fun of it, “The Rock And Roll Waltz”.

Most of her songs have jazz influences. These include her smash hits “Wheel of Fortune” her biggest hit, number one for 10 weeks, “Side by Side”, “The Man Upstairs”, and “Rock and Roll Waltz”.

One of her biggest hits was her cover version of “The Man with the Bag”.

Her career declined in the late 1950s but she continued to work.


Hit songs:

Allez-Vous-En (1953)
Am I A Toy Or A Treasure (1954)
Bonaparte’s Retreat (1950)
Changing Partners (1953)
Come On-A My House (1951)
Comes A-Long A-Love (1952)
Fool, Fool, Fool (1952)
Fortune In Dreams (1954)
Good And Lonesome (1955)
Half A Photograph (1953)
Hoop-Dee-Doo (1950)
If You Love Me (Really Love Me) (1954)
I’ll Never Be Free (with Tennessee Ernie Ford) (1950)
I Waited A Little Too Long (1952)
Kay’s Lament (with The Lancers) (1952)
Little Things Mean a Lot (1952)
Mississippi (1950)
My Heart Reminds Me (1957)
Oceans Of Tears (1951)
Oh, Babe! (1950)
Side By Side (1953)
So Tired (1948)
The Man Upstairs (1954)
The Rock And Roll Waltz (Gold Record) (1956)
Wheel Of Fortune (Gold Record) (1952)
When My Dreamboat Comes Home (1953)
You Were Only Foolin’ (While I Was Falling In Love) (1948)
Baby Me – Kay Starr vocals On This Glenn Miller & His Orchestra recording (1939)