4 Music Stars from the 1940s Who Are Still Famous Today

Somehow, the 1940s are almost a century away. The decade, which saw the world go to war for a second time and the fall of the German Nazis, was also an exhilarating time for music. In some ways, it was needed then more than ever.

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Today, some of the decade’s biggest names remain household monikers. As you can see below, there are many artists from the 1940s whose careers are felt in major ways today. Don’t believe us? Keep reading here.

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Without further ado, these are four music stars from the 1940s who are still famous today.

1. Bing Crosby

In 1948, Bing Crosby was voted the Most Admired Man Alive. He won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1944 and he was the most successful recording artist of the 1940s. His recording of “White Christmas” from 1942, just weeks after the U.S. entered WWII, is the best-selling song of all time, with the Guinness Book of World Records estimating 50 million sales.

2. Frank Sinatra

Sinatra released his debut album in 1946, The Voice of Frank Sinatra. He would go on to release three more albums in the decade, including Songs by Sinatra in 1947, Christmas Songs by Sinatra in 1948, and Frankly Sentimental in 1949. His Las Vegas entertainment group known as the Rat Pack also began in the late ’40s. Of course, Ol’ Blue Eyes would enjoy a many decades-long career as a performer and recording artist, but it was the bustling 1940s that set him off right.

3. Les Paul

In 1941, Les Paul nearly electrocuted himself. It’s a good thing he didn’t because music and the guitar might not have been the same had he ended his days then. As anyone who has ever played an electric six-string knows, Les Paul’s name is synonymous with the instrument. In 1940, he began to make electric guitars, innovating like none other before him. In the 1940s, Paul also played many gigs and began recording music. While his songs, like renditions of “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise” and “How High the Moon,” were bigger in the 1950s, thanks to his partnership with partner Mary Ford, it was his work in the 1940s that started it all.

4. Duke Ellington

Band leader, musician, and composer Duke Ellington began releasing music in the 1920s and with that his career only grew. In 1947, Ellington released the LP, Duke Ellington Plays the Blues. In 1948, he released Liberian Suite. Earlier in the decade in 1946, Ellington released the live record, Black, Brown, and Beige. In later decades, he released dozens more albums. And today, Duke Ellington’s name rings out with credibility, authenticity, and history.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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