Hal Kemp was among the most popular bandleaders of the '30s, scoring a long string of dance band hits. He was also an extremely lucky, and extremely talented musician, in the right place at the right time across his career, until a night in December of 1940 when his luck ran out. Kemp was the leader of what was generally identified as a "sweet" (or pop) band, as opposed to a "hot" (or jazz) band -- he was a rival to Guy Lombardo and Sammy Kaye, among others, and for a time was one of the top dance band leaders in the country. That was in the '30s, but Kemp had started a decade earlier playing hot jazz, and only switched out of economic necessity. Born in Alabama in 1905, he became focused on music early in life and put together his first band in 1919, at around the same time he entered high school. An alto sax player and clarinetist, he ended up leading the Carolina Club Orchestra -- the band of the University of North Carolina -- as a student, all of 19-years-old. A booking on a transatlantic ocean cruise led them to make their recording bow in London (where visiting American bands were a hot commodity, even then). The cruise itself was as much a lark as a professional stepping stone for the student band, whose members all figured to be doing something else professionally. But then fate played a hand: on the return trip, they were lucky enough to have the Prince of Wales (later the abdicated Edward VIII) as a fellow passenger who was a music enthusiast and drummer, and he sat in with them; in those days, the United States had such an inferiority complex that anything the British "royals" did was news -- the Carolina Club Orchestra didn't know it, but every day they were at sea they were getting mentioned in the press in every major city in America, and the capper was when the prince (who may have understood jazz better than he did politics -- he was later an admirer of Hitler and an embarrassment to the nation) praised their music.