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    Nelson Riddle (1st June 1921-6th October 1985)

    He was an orchestrator, arranger and bandleader born Nelson Smock Riddle Jr in Oradell, New Jersey.  He studied the piano and trombone while he was young and after his graduation he played the trombone for various local dance bands.  He joined the Merchant Marine in 1943 and continued his music while with them and once he left service he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in Chicago as the third trombone until he was drafted by the US Army in 1945.  After his discharge 15 months later he went to Hollywood and spent several years at the NBC and as a ghostwriter on arrangements for some of the more established members in the music industry.  He was hired by Les Baxter of Capitol to write arrangements for a session with Nat King Cole and although his arrangement of "Mona Lisa" became a huge hit, Les Baxter took all the credit for it.  Once Nat King Cole had found out what happened and who was, indeed, the true arranger, he sought him out and they enjoyed a successful partnership from that time on.  He collaborated with Vern Yocum who had worked with several artists at Capitol Records and they worked together for the next 30 years.  For a decade he was the arranger for Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin amongst others.   At the same time he released his own albums with the most successful being Hey! Let Yourself Go and C'Mon..Get Happy.  His orchestrations were used extensively collaborated on with Ella Fitzgerald and once Frank Sinatra had formed Reprise Records he was asked to join him there.  His work for TV and film was extensive and includes the theme song for Route 66,  the music for the series Batman and the scores for the films Robin and the Seven Hoods, Oceans Eleven and  The Great Gatsby, for which he received and Academy Award nomination.  In 1982 he was asked by Linda Ronstadt to arrange for her and he received a three-album contract, two of which won him Grammy Awards.  He died in 1985 aged 64 from a liver ailment and his son, Christopher, has carried on his legacy by assuming leadership of his father's orchestra and continuing to tour and play tribute concerts.  The Nelson Riddle Archives were established and opened in the University of Arizona in 2001. 


    Frank Sinatra Recordings

    Lets Get Away From It All (Tom Adair/Matt Dennis)



    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Riddle
    2. http://www.nelsonriddlemusic.com/


    Here he is with his orchestra being introduced to us by Nat King Cole....






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