Travel My Way: Jazz-Ivy Icon Bobby Troup

During the heyday of The Ivy League Look, a number of guys from preppy backgrounds wound up working in the field of jazz. Bobby Troup was one of them.

Raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Troup prepped at The Hill School, then studied economics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. While an undergraduate, Troup became increasingly interested in the piano, admiring Count Basie’s minimalist style, and penned his first hit song, “Daddy,” which was recorded by Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra in 1941.

In 1946, Troup drove from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles to seek his fame as an actor, musician and entertainer. Along the way he wrote his best-known song, “Route 66,” which he sold to Nat King Cole, who had a major hit with it the same year. Troup later married torch singer Julie London, and hosted the television show “Stars of Jazz.”

Troup added witty lyrics to many standards. In “The Lady Is A Tramp,” he comes up with:

Rich boys from Harvard
Can all go to, well…
She’s just as partial
To Penn or Cornell
She’s fond of horse shows
But can’t stand the smell
That’s why the lady is a tramp

She likes a free, fresh
Man in her arms
One who has charms
No coy Yale boy

Troup died in 1999 at the age of 80. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Updated from a post that originally ran on March 18, 2010. 

13 Comments on "Travel My Way: Jazz-Ivy Icon Bobby Troup"

  1. Another GREAT topic and coverage of this era, Christian. Thanks.

    I did not know the origin of this song. And the tale of then-20-something Troup’s migration to (still Golden although smoggy) California in the post-WWII era is a rapidly fading legend in the era of California’s fiscal and social meltdown. Those who grew up in or moved to California after the 1970s or who go there today cannot imagine how idyllic is seemed to most people during earlier post-WWII decades, as it seemed to me, a 19-year old GI who had never been west of the Appalachians, when I first spent time there in 1968-69.

  2. Very nice, Thanks Christian

    Always Bumby

  3. Nice clip. It may also be worth noting that Troup and London appeared together on the 1970s TV drama “Emergency.” Interestingly enough, London had earlier been married to Jack Webb, whose production company bankrolled the show.

  4. Brian Miller | March 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm |

    Yes, I remember Troup from “Emergency.” I remember my dad doing such a “dad” thing by pulling me aside and telling me what Bobby Troup was really all about – playing me his records. I was bored stiff as an 8 year-old, but I get it now.

  5. Christine Pilkington | March 21, 2010 at 7:50 pm |

    I too, remember Troupe’s, Dr. Joe Early and London’s, Dixie McCall. What a marvelous voice she had! Webb clearly had an eye for talent. Must have been an interesting dynamic between those three…
    I had the same experience Brian mentioned, although it was my mother that played Troupe’s records. Growing up in LA, we were fortunate to be exposed to some great music. Though, at 7 years-old, I don’t think I cared quite as much as I do now.

  6. Ralph Kinney Bennett | March 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm |

    The ever eclectic and unpredictable Christian strikes again! The word is so overused but in Troupe’s case it is so appropriate — He was just a cool guy.
    I met him, through Jack Webb and his partner Bob Cinader. I’m pretty sure it was on the set of another popular TV show then, Adam-12, although it might have been at the Emergency set. I was writing some entertainment stuff back then and would make several trips to Hollywood every year. We had an interesting time talking — fellow Pennsylvanians, Philadelphia (he had been at Penn and I had been at the Philadelphia Inquirer), but most of all, that first hit song he wrote, “Daddy.” One of the singers in Sammy Kaye’s orchestra was Jimmy Brown. He was “Uncle Jimmy” to me although our blood relationship was a bit more distant. I told Troupe how my grandmother would just go crazy when that record came on the radio with the whole band singing “Da-dadat, Da-dadat, Dat, Da-da…” She would insist, of course that she could pick out Jimmy’s voice. He laughed and recalled how important that song was for his career. I remember we talked a lot of big band and jazz nostalgia. A nice memory. Thanks. Christian.

  7. Charlottesville | March 1, 2016 at 9:58 am |

    Great post, Christian. I did not realize that Troup wrote “Daddy.” What a great era for music when he, Nat Cole, Julie London and so many others were performing, indeed creating, the American Songbook. And what wonderful reminiscences from Mr. Bennett and others.

  8. G. Bruce BOyer | March 1, 2016 at 10:35 am |

    A deserved tribute. When I was a young guy, we all knew of Bobby Troup as a great jazz musician and song writer. But we envied him most for being married to the sultry ballad singer Julie London.

  9. Ward Wickers | March 1, 2016 at 10:44 am |

    Have to agree with Charlottesville, this was a time when the American Songbook was fleshed out and developed. Nat Cole is one of my favorite musicians. No one doubts his stature for vocals, but I’ve always thought he was also a very underrated pianist. Here he is in an early recording of Route 66:

    After Nat left us, his daughter, Natalie, filled a void. She just died recently, too, but has left us with some great music. Here she is live with Diana Krall and a very nice rendition of Route 66. Diana has a lot of Nat in her on this:

    Then, of course, if you want to know why the ivy style died out in the 1960’s, here’s a good part of the reason:

  10. Charlottesville | March 1, 2016 at 11:14 am |

    Ward — I also recommend Nat’s brother Freddy Cole, who is now in his 80’s, but I think is still performing. For what it’s worth, I have seen Diana Krall perform live the same number of times as I have seen those other fellows in your Route 66 video: three. They both can put on a pretty good show. Not sure whether that absolves me of contributing to Ivy’s demise, but hopefully the OCBD, tweed 3/2 sack coat, cuffed khakis and penny loafers I am wearing today will help tip the balance in my favor. Sorry I never got to see Nat Cole or Julie London live, but I have plenty of their albums to console me.

  11. Julie London…whew.

  12. It’s funny, I knew Bobby Troup was Julie London’s husband, main songwriter, and music director, but I always thought he was a guitarist, because so many of those Julie London songs are recorded with a small guitar-based combo. So I guess Mr. Troup just like the way those songs sounded arranged that way, and it’s just some other random guys playing guitar on those sessions.

  13. An Old J Press Customer From Los Angeles | November 21, 2022 at 5:07 pm |

    Bobby Troup and Julie London were friends of my late mother and father (who died very young, 30 years before Bobby). Julie’s Mom and Dad (Jo and Jack Peck) had lived in an apartment above my folks when Dad came here to attend medical school in Los Angeles in 1950. The Pecks were old vaudevillians (Julie came by it honestly). I ran into Bobby in DuPar’s Coffee Shop in Encino in the mid-90s. Had not seen him or Julie since the 70s. I went up and introduced myself. I thought it unlikely he’d remember be but you would have thought we’d never lost touch. A big hug, he asked about my Mom and spent more time than I merited talking about his friendship with my Dad. Bobby’s friends/crowd included all of the mid-century jazz greats in LA: The Four Freshmen, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis, Bud Shank, Shelly Manne et. ux. Bobby and Julie were great stars, huge talents but even better people. Theirs was a golden age of music when it was all about talent…social media? Not so much.

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