Candy composer Alex Kramer had been a pianist and vocal coach when in 1941 the musicians’ performing rights organization ASCAP went on strike and withdrew all of their music from radio. Kramer, who was not yet well known as a songwriter, joined rival organization BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) which was formed to fill the void, and his compositions immediately found space on the airwaves.
Kramer’s sentimental ballad Candy, written with his wife Joan Whitney and lyricist Mack David, was recorded by a number of crooners, jazz singers and orchestras and became quite popular on radio. The original recording by Johnny Mercer and pop singer Jo Stafford with The Pied Pipers on the Capitol label reached Billboard’s No. 1 and spent a total of 15 weeks on the charts.
“Billboard” magazine noted that Candy was especially popular as a juke box hit, with listeners having a choice of six different versions! And the sheet music proved so popular that it was reprinted a number of times.
Candy was a hit again and again. Dinah Shore achieved considerable success with her 1945 recording, making it to No. 10, and the song was No. 7 on Billboard’s Top Honor Roll of Hit Tunes for 1945.
Blues artist Big Maybelle then had a hit on the R&B charts with her 1956 cover, which was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
And in 1974 vocal jazz quartet The Manhattan Transfer brought Candy back into the public eye with their version.
Various renditions of Candy have appeared in contemporary film and TV soundtracks, including Jo Stafford and Johnny Mercer’s in “Bugsy” (1991), Doctor John’s in “The Night We Never Met” (1993), and The Nat King Cole Trio’s in “Home for the Holidays” (1995). The song has also been featured in such TV series as “Cold Case” and “The Cosby Show.”
Candy is a simple heartfelt love song promising a happy ending, a perfect counterpoint to the stresses of wartime: “Candy, it’s gonna be just dandy/ The day I take my Candy/
And make her mine, all mine.”
Other artists who have recorded Candy include Joan Brooks, Dick Brown, Don Byas with Teddy Wilson and Slam Stewart, Scott Hamilton, Ray Charles, Toronto vocal quartet The Crew Cuts, Vic Damone, Kitty Kallen, Joe Loss and His Orchestra, Marion Loveridge, Magic Strings, George Paxton, and numerous others. Jazz trumpeters Lee Morgan and Stan Getz have also covered the tune.
Amy McConnell and William Sperandei performed Candy as recently as 2014 on their Juno-nominated album “Stealing Genius.”
Candy remains popular with jazz bands and is performed as far away as South Africa.
Pianist, conductor and composer Alex Kramer (1903 – 1998) was born in Montreal. After studying music at McGill Conservatory, he conducted radio orchestras and was a vocal coach. He left Canada to pursue a career in New York City. He married big-band singer Joan Whitney (1914 – 1990, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and together they wrote numerous hits such as Far Away Places, There’s Nobody Here but Us Chickens, and Love Somebody. Kramer and Whitney wrote more than 100 songs, many of which ended up as song sheet classics.
Mack David (1912 – 1993) was born in New York City. He wrote songs for Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood, and is in the U.S. Songwriters Hall of Fame.