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Archive for the ‘Easy Listening’ Category

RIP, Bob Flanigan (May 15, 2011) Lead Singer of The Four Freshmen

Posted by on May 15, 2011

Bob Flanigan
August 22, 1926 – May 15, 2011

Bob Flanigan was the founder and lead singer of influential jazz vocal group, the Four Freshmen.  Formed in 1948 while they were still students at Butler University, the group went on to release numerous hit records and perform in front of sold-out audiences the world over.  They would be cited as direct influences on the likes of the Manhattan Transfer, the Lettermen, and most notably, Brian Wilson who often gave credit to the group’s vocal harmonies for guiding his vision of the Beach Boys sound.  It was Flanigan’s distinctive high pitch that could be heard above the others on most of the group’s recordings.  He was also an accomplished trombonist and bass guitarist, in fact all the original members played instruments,  which separated them from other vocal groups of the era.  Upon retiring in 1992, Flanigan retained the rights to the group’s name and was involved in selecting new members.  Bob Flanigan was 84 when he died of congestive heart failure on May 15, 2011.

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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.

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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.

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RIP, Eddie Fisher (September 22, 2010) 1950s Pop Star

Posted by on September 22, 2010

Eddie Fisher
August 10, 1928 – September 22, 2010

Eddie Fisher was a singer who became one of the world’s most popular entertainers during the 1950s.  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Fisher started winning local amateur contest while still just a child.  By the mid ’40s, he was fronted various regionally popular big bands, and was soon discovered by Eddie Cantor who helped him land a record deal with RCA Victor.  After serving in Korea, where he fronted the Army Band, he began turning up on TV variety shows, helping him become one of the most popular pre-rock ‘n roll singers.  He went on to sell millions of records, co-star in several motion pictures, and host his own television show.  He continued making albums up until the mid ’80s.  Eddie Fisher was married to Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Connie Stevens.  His children include actresses Carrie Fisher, Joely Fisher,  and Tricia Leigh Fisher.  On September 9, 2010, Eddie Fisher broke his hip, and died two weeks later of complications from hip surgery.  He was 82.

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Died On This Date (August 24, 1978) Louis Prima

Posted by on August 24, 2010

Louis Prima
December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978

Louis Prima was a popular jazz trumpeter, singer, and band leader who came to prominence performing and recording with his then-wife, Keely Smith.  Thanks to his big personality on stage, Prima and his jazz combo became a popular Las Vegas draw during the ’50s.  Prima and Smith won a Grammy in 1959 for their single, “That Old Black Magic.”  His widest exposure came thanks to the 1967 Disney film, Jungle Book.  In it, Prima voiced the popular orangutan, King Louie and sang the hit song, “I Wanna Be Like You.”  In 1975, Prima’s doctors discovered a stem brain tumor.  During the surgery to remove it, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, putting him into a coma.  He passed away on August 24, 1978 at the age of 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 22, 2008) Ralph Young / Sandler & Young

Posted by on August 22, 2010

Ralph Young (Born Ralph Israel)
July 1, 1918 – August 22, 2008

Ralph Young is best remembered as half of the duo, Sandler & Young which he formed during the ’60s with fellow singer, Tony Sandler.  Signed to Capitol Records in 1966, the duo went on to release 22 albums and toured the world.  They were also a popular draw in Las Vegas throughout the ’70s and ’80s and made regular television appearances on such programs as the Ed Sullivan Show, Merv Griffin Show, and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Sandler & Young retired in 1983 but reunited on ocassion, the most recent being in 2003.  Ralph Young passed away in his home at the age of 90.

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Died On This Date (August 17, 1990) Pearl Bailey

Posted by on August 17, 2010

Pearl Bailey
March 29, 1918 – August 17, 1990

The great Pearl Bailey was a singer and actress who went from the vaudeville stage to television and Broadway, eventually winning an Emmy and Tony award.  She began her career as a teenager singing and dancing in clubs in the Philadelphia area.  By the early ’40s she was entertaining troops with the USO.  Upon her return to the states, Bailey settled in New York where she performed with the likes of Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway.  In 1952, Bailey married jazz great, Louis Bellson who died in 2009, just five months before the passing of their daughter, singer Dee Dee Bellson .   She made her Broadway debut in a 1954 production of Carmen Jones, and later starred in an all-black production of Hello Dolly!, for which she won a Tony.  She recorded popular singles and albums through much of her professional life.  During the ’70, Bailey was a familiar face on television, appearing on countless variety programs as well as hosting her own.  She also voiced animated features including Disney’s The Fox And The Hound in 1981.  Pearl Bailey died of heart disease on August 17, 1990 at the age of 72.

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Died On This Date (August 15, 2008) Jerry Wexler / Legendary Producer & Label Head

Posted by on August 15, 2010

Jerry Wexler
January 10, 1917 – August 15, 2008

In the studio with Aretha Franklin

Jerry Wexler was best known as a music producer who was responsible for some of the greatest music from the 1950s through the 1980s.  He also coined the phrase “rhythm and blues” while he was editor of Billboard magazine before he became a partner of Atlantic Records in 1953.  While at Atlantic he either produced or signed some of the all time greats of popular music.  That list includes Wilson Pickett, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers.  He retired from the music business in the late ’90s, and passed away of congestive heart failure in 2008.

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