He was a musician and orchestra leader born Joseph Raymond Conniff in Attleboro, Massachusetts. He was taught the trombone by his father and he used a book to study music arrangement.
He served in the US Army in WWII under Walter Schumann and after the war he was hired as a home arranger by Mitch Miller of Columbia Records. He worked with many artists of the time and his own orchestra backed many hit singles including “Just Walkin’ in the Rain”, “A White Sport Coat” and “Chances Are”.
His first recordings were done under the name of Jay Raye but because of his success Mitch Miller let him cut his own album S Wonderful. He released many albums in the 1950s and started the Ray Conniff Singers in 1959, who brought him success and a Grammy Award with “Somewhere My Love” in 1966. Between 1957 and 1968 there were 28 albums of his in the American Top 40 and he was the first popular American artist to record in Russia.
He has sold 70-million albums worldwide and continued to perform up until his death at 85 in Escondido, California on 12th October 2002.
Here he is leading his orchestra performing “Brazil”…