Carl T. Fischer was born to an American Indian mother and a father who was half German and half Indian. During his career he played the piano on the West coast and in Honolulu. It was on his way to Hawaii that he met his future wife, Terry, a big band singer and the first “girl” singer with the Stan Kenton band. He worked for Hollywood studios as an arranger and played with Pee Wee Hunt and Ted Weems,
During WWII while assistant director of a maritime service band he met lyricist Bill Carey, and their collaboration produced three songs in 1942. “It Started All Over Again” was recorded by Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers; “Who Wouldn’t Love You” was recorded by Kay Kyser; and “You’ve Changed,” which was first recorded by Dick Haymes with the Harry James band, became an enduring jazz standard.
Fischer met singer Frankie Laine in the early ‘40s and soon became his pianist, arranger, and music director. Fischer gave him a song that he’d written and asked him to write lyrics. Months later Laine came up with “We’ll Be Together Again” (1945), which became a jazz standard. Laine was not the first to record the song, however; the Pied Pipers beat him to it.
Their decade-long partnership produced some songs that were top-sellers in the years that Laine recorded them: “What Could Be Sweeter?” (1948); “Baby, Just for Me” (1949); and “When You’re in Love” (1952). Laine used “You Are My Love” as the title cut of a 1959 album and had a hit with “Give Me a Kiss for Tomorrow” which Fischer wrote with lyricist Marla Shelton.
Over a period of 15 years Fischer composed an orchestral suite in nine movements that recalls his Indian heritage and his love of the land, “Reflections of an Indian Boy.” Just days before Fischer died he finished the composition and handed it to Laine. Victor Young of the Cleveland Orchestra arranged the piece and Laine appeared with the orchestra in a final tribute to Fischer. The suite was recorded by Paul Weston and by the London Symphony, and in 1973 the Scioto Society of Chillicothe, Ohio, premiered the piece as the musical foundation of their production Tecumseh! The historical drama of the legendary Shawnee leader is still performed six days a week during summer at the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre where recordings of the music can be purchased.
Fischer’s musical legacy lives on. In their teens his daughters formed a singing duo called The Murmaids which had a pop hit in 1963. In 2001 they revived the Murmaids, adding a third member to the group. Daughter Carol married a professional musician and has two musician sons. Terry has enjoyed a 20-year career as a singer, appearing in live concerts and on television.
We wish to thank Carol Fischer Morell and Terry Fischer Siegel for their assistance in researching this article.
- Sandra Burlingame