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Archive for the ‘Composer’ Category

RIP, Joseph Brooks (May 22, 2011) Controversial Songwriter Of “You Light Up My Life”

Posted by on May 22, 2011

Joseph Brooks
March 11, 1938 – May 22, 2011

Joseph Brooks was a filmmaker, screenwriter, and composer who is most commonly remembered for his 1977 hit single, “You Light Up My Life,” which was first recorded by Kasey Cisyk for his motion picture of the same name.  The song was quickly re-recorded by Debbie Boone and released on Curb Records.  The record quickly shot to #1, and to that point, held the top position for the most consecutive weeks in history.   It eventually became the most successful single of the ’70s and still stands as one of the decade’s most iconic ballads.  The recording for the film earned Brooks an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe, and has since been covered by Tom Jones, Lee Greenwood, Leann Rimes, and Whitney Houston, to name a few.  Brooks also wrote numerous award winning commercial jingles, composed music for The Lords Of Flatbush, and co-produced Eddie and the Cruisers.  In June of 2009, Brooks was indicted for allegedly luring unsuspecting women to his apartment in order to audition for movie roles.  He was awaiting trial on as many as 11 charges of rape, assault, and other sex crimes when, on May 22, 2011, his lifeless body was discovered by a friend in Brooks’ home.  His head was reportedly rapped in a plastic dry cleaning bag which was connect to a tube from a helium tank.  A suicide note was found nearby.  Joseph Brooks was 73 years old when he passed away.

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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, Hugh Martin (March 11, 2011) Wrote “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

Posted by on March 11, 2011

Hugh Martin
August 11, 1914 – March 11, 2011

Hugh Martin was a highly successful American theatrical and film composer and arranger.   Over the course of a career that spanned some 60 years, Martin wrote the music and in some cases the lyrics for such musicals as Make A Wish, High Spirits, and his most celebrated, Meet Me In St. Louis, in which Judy Garland sang his  “The Trolley Song,” “The Boy Next Door,” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”  He also worked as a vocal arranger on Gentleman Prefer Blondes, Sugar Babies, and Top Banana to name a few.  His film credits include Athena, The Girl Most Likely, and Best Foot Forward.  Hugh Martin was 96 when he passed away on March 11, 2011.

You can learn more about Hugh Martin by watching THIS INTERVIEW for the National Association of Music Merchants.

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RIP, Eddie Snyder (March 10, 2011) American Composer & Lyricist

Posted by on March 10, 2011

Eddie Snyder
February 22, 1919 – March 10, 2011

Eddie Snyder was an American composer who is best remembered for co-writing the English lyrics and music for the Frank Sinatra hit, “Strangers In The Night.” The song was first written by a Croation songwriter, the piece eventually ended up with Snyder who helped create the English lyrics and complete the music with Bert Kaempfert and Charles Singleton.  Although Sinatra reportedly hated the song, his rendition of it was the title song of his most successful album and won three Grammys.  Snyder also co-wrote the Al Martino hit, “Spanish Eyes.”  Songs that Snyder either wrote or co-wrote have been recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley (“Spanish Eyes”), Johnny Mathis (“A Time For Us”), and Perry Como (“The Girl With The Golden Braids”) to name just a few.  Eddie Snyder passed away on March 10, 2011 at the age of 92.

Thanks to Anne Bentley for the help

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RIP, George Shearing (February 14, 2011) Popular Jazz Pianist and Composer

Posted by on February 14, 2011

George Shearing
August 13, 1919 – February 14, 2011

George Shearing was a popular and influential jazz pianist and composer who could claim over 300 pieces as his own.  Born blind in London, Shearing spent his early professional career playing in an all-blind band – he started playing the piano at just three years old.  During his late 20s, Shearing moved to the United States where he continued to master his complex style of swing, bop and bebop.  In 1949, he formed the George Shearing Quintet and went on to record for such labels as Verve, Capitol, and MGM.  His hits included “Lullaby Of Birdland” and “September In The Rain.”    Over the years he’s collaborated with the likes of Oscar Pettiford, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, and Mel Torme.  In 2007, he was knighted – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – for his contributions to music.  George Shearing died of heart failure on February 14, 2011.  He was 91.

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RIP, John Barry (January 30, 2011) English Film Score Composer of James Bond Themes

Posted by on January 30, 2011

John Barry Prendergast
November 3, 1933 – January 30, 2011

John Barry was a prolific composer whose iconic works include eleven of the James Bond film scores.  It was Barry’s music in those movies that helped create a mood that defined the character and series.   Over a career that stretched across five decades, Barry won numerous awards including five Academy Awards, a Grammy, and a BAFTA, which is the British equivalent of an Oscar.  His other film scores include Out of Africa, Born Free, Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves, Chaplin, and Somewhere In Time, to name just a few.  Barry also scored numerous television programs.  Many of his soundtracks included singles that landed high on both UK and US charts.   John Barry was 77 when, on January 30, 2011, he died of a heart attack.

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RIP, Milton Babbitt (January 29, 2011) Electronic Music Pioneer

Posted by on January 29, 2011

Milton Babbitt
May 10, 1916 – January 29, 2011

Milton Babbitt was an American composer who helped develop the world’s first synthesizer during the 1950s.  Babbitt was just 4 years old when he took up the violin, and within a few years he branched out to the saxophone and clarinet.  He was arranging songs by the time he was 7, and winning songwriting contests by 13.  In college, Babbitt received honors for his studies in both music and mathematics.  After the development of RCA’s Mark II synthesizer, Babbitt devoted his time and energy to making electronic music, often combining synthesizer and conventional instruments.  Milton Babbitt passed away on January 29, 2011.  He was 94.

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RIP, Geoffrey Burgon (September 21, 2010) British TV & Film Composer

Posted by on September 21, 2010

Geoffrey Burgon
July 15, 1941 – September 21, 2010

Geoffrey Burgon was a British composer who is best remembered for his television and film scores.  Burgon learned to play the trumpet in grade school and until the age of 30, he played professionally as part of various jazz bands.  Growing tired of it, he turned to his other love, composing.   His first piece of note was 1976’s Requiem.  He found his most success on British television, composing award winning music for the likes of Brideshead Revisted and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  He also created music for Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, Doctor Who, and The Chronicles Of Narnia.  His music could be heard on the BBC and ITV over the past four decades.  Geoffrey Burgon was 69 when he passed away on September 21, 2010.  Cause of death was not immediately release.

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Died On This Date (September 4, 1995) Chuck Greenberg / Shawdofax

Posted by on September 4, 2010

Chuck Greenberg
March 25, 1950 – September 4, 1995

Chuck Greenberg was a musician, producer and composer who is best remembered as the leader of Shadowfax, a Grammy-winning band that is generally thought of as “New Age.”  Greenberg launched his music career during the ’70s and was soon was tapped to perform in the Bee Gees’ back-up band on one of their U.S. tours.  He soon moved to Los Angeles where he formed Shadowfax.  The band built a loyal fanbase thanks to it’s ability to marry elements of rock, world, jazz and folk music.  They would become one of the few New Age bands to cross over to a pop audience.  The band traveled the world playing to adoring fans until Septembe 4, 1995 when Chuck Greenberg died unexpectedly of a heart attack.  He was 44.

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Died On This Date (September 2, 2009) Guy Babylon / Played Keyboards For Elton John

Posted by on September 2, 2010

Guy Babylon
December 20, 1956 – September 2, 2009

guyGuy Babylon was a composer and keyboardist who, in 1989 was hired by Elton John to tour and record with him.  He won a Grammy in 2001 for his work on Aida, a rock musical by John and Tim Rice.  While swimming in a pool on September 2, 2009, Guy Babylon suffered a fatal heart attack.  He was 52.

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