Mel Tormé, a pop and jazz crooner whose smooth delivery and wooly timbre earned him the nickname “The Velvet Fog,” was born on this day (September 13) in Chicago in 1925. Tormé was the consummate entertainer, a musician whose repository of skills also included writing, arranging, drumming and acting. Tormé began his career as a pop artist, serving as the lead singer in the Los Angeles-based teenybop group The Mel-Tones. (Prior to that, he was a background singer for the Marx Brothers’ touring act.) It was during this time that Tormé began a friendship with lyricist Robert Wells. The two scored a major hit in 1946 with “The Christmas Song,” which was made famous by Nat King Cole. “P.S.” I Lve You,” yet another of Tormé’s most requested songs, is today’s Song of the Day.
By the late 1940s, Tormé had found success on his own, signing to Capitol Records and releasing his first LP, The California Suite, in 1949. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, he would bounce from label to label, covering pop standards of the day. All the while, he continued to act in film and television. By the time the 1970s rolled around, Tormé had experienced a career resurgence, and his performances with pianist George Shearing from that era were particularly fruitful. Tormé died in 1999 at the age of 73, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest male jazz vocalists of all time and influencing the likes of Chet Baker, Manhattan Transfer and Michael Bublé.