Mickey Mouse Clubber and Rifleman Child Star Johnny Crawford Sets New Album Release

(PR) Recording artist, orchestra leader, actor and former child star, Johnny Crawford, is releasing a new album for the first time in more than 40 years with a genre of music that has been dancing through his veins and putting a skip in his step for decades. After 17 years of entertaining audiences with live performances, The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra's first album, "Sweepin' the Clouds Away" will go into wide release on Tuesday, May 19 to bring early 20th century dance band music back into the spotlight.

Crawford's music career began in 1955 as one of the original Mouseketeers on Walt Disney's popular Mickey Mouse Club. He became famous for his role as Chuck Connors' son, Mark McCain, in "The Rifleman" for which he received an Emmy® nomination in 1959 as Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series.

"Sweepin' the Clouds Away," a Crawford Music release, is an album incorporating 15 authentic dance band orchestrations of romantic and uplifting songs from the 1920s and 1930s; the type of songs that provided inspiration and emotional escape during the Great Depression. Crawford, the director and vocalist for the orchestra, says the release of this album comes at a perfect time to help brighten people's spirits during the current economic downturn.

"Instead of focusing on hardships, this music is about romance and enjoying life," says Crawford. "I like to call it vintage dance music to sweeten the season."

The CD itself features a 1932 photograph of actress, Jean Harlow, driving a new Packard convertible with her hair blowing in the wind. Crawford believes this photo perfectly captures the spirit of the album and the title song, "Sweepin' the Clouds Away," by Sam Coslow.

The recordings were made during live performances at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in the Gold Room of the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel, an authentic and historic 1920s dance band venue.

"Sweepin' the Clouds Away" features music by Duke Ellington, Sam Coslow, Jerome Kern, Richard Rogers, Harry Warren, Richard Whiting, Harry Revel, Ralph Rainger, Harry Barris, Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Johnson, Fred Ahlert, Rube Bloom and E.A. Swan.

"When we play a song by one of these great composers, I enjoy hearing the melody, the harmonies and the original chord changes as they were first presented," explains Crawford. "These arrangements were written by real craftsmen, orchestrators who were employed by the music publishers, so new compositions could be promoted to their best advantage through the many dance bands that would play them in ballrooms, restaurants and hotel dining rooms. No matter where you were, it must have seemed there was always a dance band nearby playing this magical music. Those unique times, rich in so many ways, deserve to be cherished and revisited."

Recording for Del-Fi Records in the 1960s, Crawford had five top 40 hits including "Cindy's Birthday," "Rumors," "Your Nose Is Gonna Grow," "Proud," and "Patti Ann." All together, Crawford's entertainment career has thus far included more than 200 television episodes, 15 movies and 16 plays. Although the new CD is his seventh career album, it is his first in more than 40 years.

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