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Archive for the ‘Arranger’ Category

RIP, Johnny Pearson (March 20, 2011) Respected English Pianist; Composed “Monday Night Football” Theme

Posted by on March 20, 2011

Johnny Pearson
June 18, 1925 – March 20, 2011

Johnny Pearson was a British pianist, band leader, arranger, and composer of theme music for several popular TV programs.  Pearson learned to play the piano as a child, and at the age of nine was awarded a scholarship to the London Academy of Music.  Although he soon became an accomplished classical pianist, he followed his love for jazz after school and toured Europe as part of the Malcolm Mitchell Trio.    In 1964, the Pearson-arranged Cilla Black single, “Anyone Had A Heart” topped the UK charts.  In 1966, Pearson took over the Top Of The Pops Orchestra, a position he held for the next 15 years.  In 1967, he began recording with the Sounds Orchestral group who would release approximately 17 albums through 1977.  He also worked with the Carpenters and Dusty Springfield.  Throughout a career that spanned some 50 years, Pearson composed music that appeared on such television programs as All Things Great And Small Monday Night Football, Ren and Stimpy,  and The Early Show to name a few.  Johnny Pearson was 85 when he passed away on March 20, 2011.

Thanks to Anne Bentley for the help

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RIP, Rory J. Thomas (December 27, 2010) Respected Australian Jazz Musician

Posted by on December 27, 2010

Rory J. Thomas
November 13, 1942 – December 27, 2010

Photo By Gene Ramirez

Rory J. Thomas was, among many other things, a gifted Australian jazz musician, conductor, and film documenatarian.  Thomas was just five years old when he first took up the piano, and by the time he was a young adult, he had played in such popular local bands as the Questions and Doug Parkinson in Focus.   After graduating college in Sydney, Thomas received a scholarship to the world renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.  While there, he found work as a late night disc jockey and field reporter for a local radio station.  One of his assignments was to cover the historic Woodstock music festival in 1969.  That was followed by music festivals across Europe during breaks from his studies.   He was also involved in the musical arrangements for the original Broadway production of Godspell and was later invited to be the musical director of the Australian production of the show.  During the ’80s, Thomas launched a long and respected career as a music educator in Australia, the U.S., and France.  During the final years of his life, Thomas was still teaching at times over 12 hours a day, all while undergoing chemotherapy.  He was awarded many honors over his long career, including being knighted by the French government in 2009, the first time that honor has ever been handed to an Australian jazz musician.  Rory J. Thomas, 68, died on December 27, 2010 following a 7-year battle with cancer.

Thanks to Anne Bentley for the help

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Died On This Date (August 25, 1979) Stan Kenton

Posted by on August 25, 2010

Stan Kenton
December 15, 1911 – August 25, 1979

kentonStan Kenton was a popular jazz pianist and band leader who made his mark as part of the West Coast jazz scene of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.  He was considered an innovator in his day – taking what others called a “dance band,” and filling it out to what he preferred to call an “orchestra.”  In doing so, he created what was then labeled a “wall of sound,” a term hijacked by Phil Spector in later years.    His influence can be heard today across America’s high school and college jazz bands.  Stan Kenton died on August 25, 1979 following a stroke.  He was 67.

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Died On This Date (August 23, 1990) David Rose / Wrote “The Stripper”

Posted by on August 23, 2010

David Rose
June 15, 1910 – August 23, 1990

DavidRoseDavid Rose was a songwriter and composer best known for writing “The Stripper.”  Throughout his career, Rose wrote music for such television programs as Bonanza, the Red Skelton Show and Little House On The Prairie.  His television work earned him four Emmys.  He had a three-year marriage to singer Martha Raye and later, another three-year marriage to Judy Garland.  Written in 1958, “The Stripper” didn’t become a hit until it was featured in the 1962 film, Gypsy.  Instantly recognizable song eventually became synonomous with the art of stripping.  David Rose passed away at the age of 80.

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Died On This Date (August 9, 2009) David Van De Pitte / Arranger For Motown

Posted by on August 9, 2010

David Van De Pitte
October 28, 1941 – August 9, 2009

As a music arranger for Motown, David Van De Pitte helped make hits out of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Eddie Kendricks‘ “Keep On Truckin,'” Gladys Knight’s “If I Were Your Woman,” and many more.  Van De Pitte started working at Motown in 1968 and besides his arrangement successes, he was also the music director for live shows by the likes of Diana Ross, Paul Anka, the Four Tops and the Temptations.  David Van De Pitte died of cancer at the age of 67.

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Died On This Date (August 2, 1997) Fela Kuti

Posted by on August 2, 2010

Fela Kuti
October 15, 1938 – August 2, 1997

An afro-beat pioneer, the Nigerian born Fela Kuti was considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.  Born to politically active parents in 1938, Kuti later went to London to study medicine, but switched to music.  While in college he formed his first band which introduced a sound that married jazz, funk and the West African traditional music, later to be called afro-beat.  While visiting the United States in 1969, Kuti was introduced to the Black Power movement, which would strongly influence his beliefs and music moving forward.  He soon became a target of the Nigerian government due to the confrontational lyrics in his songs.  His house was burned down and he was beaten by soldiers on multiple occasions.  But he kept doing what he did best, make great music with a strong message of the poeple.  To many, his voice and words were as important as Bob Marley’s were.  Fela Kuti died of complications from AIDS  on August 2, 1997.

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Died On This Date (July 29, 2008) Jack Sanbower / Respected Bluegrass Picker

Posted by on July 29, 2010

Jack Sanbower
September 14, 1960 – July 29, 2008

Known as “Maryland’s Five String King,” Jack Sanbower and his No Leeway Band have been entertaining bluegrass fans for over 15 years.  Teaching himself to play the banjo, guitar and bass at an early age, Sanbower quickly built a name for himself throughout the northeast due to his fierce picking on the 5-string banjo.  In 1990, Sanbower formed the No Leeway Band who, over the next 15 years, dazzled audiences along the east coast bluegrass circuit and recorded close to a dozen albums for the Buck Hallow label.  In 2006, Sanbower joined Rattlesnake Hill, quickly becoming their on-stage focal point for his rapid fire picking and lively antics.   But the fun would not last long as Sanbower soon became diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus.  He died as a result of the cancer on July 29, 2008.  He was 47.

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Died On This Date (July 28, 1995) Eddie Hinton / Muscle Shoals Guitarist

Posted by on July 28, 2010

Eddie Hinton
June 15, 1944 – July 28, 1995

Eddie Hinton was one of those great unknowns. As a session guitarist within the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, his brilliance can be heard on hits by the likes of Wilson Pickett, Arthur Conley, Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, The Staple Singers, The Dells, Johnnie Taylor, Elvis Presley, the Box Tops, Boz Scaggs, and Otis Redding. And as a songwriter, he penned a few hits as well, including “Breakfast In Bed” which has been recorded by the Pretenders, Dusty Springfield and UB40. During the early ’80s however, Hinton’s career and personal life took a drastic turn for the worse, at one point, leading him to a life on the streets. But with the help of friends, he was able to rebound and get back to doing what he did best – writing, recording and touring. Things were going pretty smooth for Hinton until July of 1995. He had just come of the road and was finishing up a new album when he suffered a fatal heart attack on July 28. He was 51.

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Died On This Date (July 22, 2008) Joe Beck / Respected Jazz Guitarist

Posted by on July 22, 2010

Joe Beck
July 29, 1945 – July 22, 2008

Joe Beck was a much respected jazz guitarist who was equally at home whether performing mainstream jazz, soul jazz, post bop or fusion.  Beck released numerous albums dating back to 1970.  Over the years, he’s played wth the likes of Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, James Brown, Herbie Hancock and many more.  Beck died of lung cancer at the age of 62.

Thanks to Craig Rosen at  Number1Albums

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Died On This Date (July 12, 2003) Benny Carter / Jazz Great

Posted by on July 12, 2010

Benny Carter
August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003

benny-carterBenny Carter was a premier jazz horn player for over 60 years.  He was loved for his abilities on the saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet.  Throughout his career, he’s won numerous awards including Grammys and the National Medal of Arts.  Carter made his first recordings in 1928 and never looked back.  Over the years he’s played with the biggest names in jazz including Fletcher Henderson, Django Reinhardt and Coleman Hawkins.  As an arranger, he’s worked with Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington and many more.    Remarkably, Carter continued working until he retired at the ago of 90.  He passed away five years later.

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