Ray Conniff, the bandleader, artisan and arranger whose orra and choir produced a cord of Top 40 accepted music albums such as ” ‘S Wonderful” and the Grammy-winning “Somewhere My Love,” has died. He was 85.
Conniff, who had a achievement in March, died Saturday at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido.
In a career of about 70 years that began as a swing-era trombonist in the 1930s and included stints as a amateur and arranger with the Bunny Berigan, Bob Crosby and Artie Shaw bands, Conniff recorded added than 100 albums that accept awash added than 70 actor copies.
He denticulate 28 Top 40 albums from 1957 to 1968, including “Say It With Music (A Touch of Latin),” “Memories Are Fabricated of This” and the 1966 million-seller “Somewhere My Love.”
The appellation tune of the “Somewhere My Love” anthology — “Lara’s Theme” by Maurice Jarre from the blur “Dr. Zhivago,” with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster — additionally fabricated the top 10 singles archive and becoming Conniff a Grammy for best achievement by a chorus.
In his aftermost accessible actualization in March, Conniff conducted a choir singing “Somewhere My Love” at the bells of Liza Minnelli and David Gest.
Conniff had added than 10 gold albums and two platinum albums (for “Somewhere My Love” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”); he additionally won CBS Records’ accolade for Best Selling Artist for 1962 and abundant all-embracing awards.
Joining Columbia Records in 1954 as an arranger, Conniff abiding a cord of hits produced by allegorical artists and repertoire administrator Mitch Miller, including Don Cherry’s “Band of Gold,” Johnnie Ray’s “Just Walking in the Rain,” Guy Mitchell’s “Singing the Blues,” Frankie Laine’s “Moonlight Gambler,” Marty Robbins’ “A White Sport Coat” and Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are,” “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not for Me To Say.”
It was during this aeon that Conniff launched the “new sound” that became his signature, application macho and changeable singers’ choir as admitting they were instruments.
“Very few arrangers had trademarks, but if you heard a Conniff arrangement, you knew it was Ray,” Miller said Monday.
Miller said Conniff had done an adjustment for Harry James’ hit adaptation of George and Ira Gershwin’s ” ‘S Wonderful.”
“I said, ‘Take that aforementioned adjustment and add women’s choir to the assumption as added instruments to accord addition blush and men’s choir to the woodwinds,’ ” said Miller. “We approved it out on a distinct record, and it got lots of play.”
The after anthology ” ‘S Wonderful” spent nine months in the Top 20, ultimately awash about 15 actor copies and was followed by ” ‘S Marvelous” and ” ‘S Awful Nice.”
“The affiliation of the agreeable and the choral was article that hadn’t been explored abundant in accepted music, and for the time, I anticipate he was advised by abounding a pop music master,” said Timothy Edwards, arch of operations at UCLA’s agreeable appropriate collections.
Indeed, Cash Box annual alleged Conniff “the best able advancing bandage leader” in both 1957 and 1958. And in 1959, disc jockeys voted the Ray Conniff Orra and Singers “the best played orra on the air.”
In 1960, on “It’s the Talk of the Town,” Conniff began altering his blueprint by accepting his choir sing words.
Actor Buddy Ebsen, a aing acquaintance of Conniff, remembers him as a affable man. “I accept been a fan of Ray Conniff and his aptitude back connected afore I met him,” Ebsen said Monday. “I adoration the affection of all his music and his candor as a person.”
Born in 1916, in Attleboro, Mass., Conniff grew up in a agreeable family. His mother played piano and his trombone-playing ancestor led a bounded band. In aerial school, Conniff started a ball orra. After graduating, he landed his aboriginal able job, arena with a bandage in Boston alleged Dan Murphy’s Agreeable Skippers.
He aing Berigan’s bandage in 1937 as a trombonist and arranger, and was assassin abroad by Crosby in 1939.
After arena with Bob Crosby’s Bobcats for a year, Conniff spent four years with Artie Shaw and was featured on several Shaw hits.
After a assignment with the Glen Gray band, Conniff spent two years in the Army, alignment for the Armed Forces Radio Services in Hollywood. After the war, he aing the Harry James bandage as an arranger and freelanced as an arranger afore aing Columbia Records.
After his Grammy win for “Somewhere My Love,” Conniff becoming two added Grammy nominations — in 1968 for “Honey” and in 1969 for Conniff’s adaptation of the Rod McKuen song “Jean.”
In the backward ’60s, absent to actualize the aforementioned complete admirers heard on recordings, Conniff toured the United States and Europe accomplishing the world’s aboriginal alive concerts in three-channel stereo. In 1974, he became the aboriginal American accepted artist to almanac in Russia, area he acclimated a bounded choir to accomplish “Ray Conniff In Moscow.”
His daughter, Tamara, went on to become music editor of the Hollywood Reporter.
Until his stroke, he connected recording about one anthology a year and toured annually in Brazil with his abounding orra and chorus.
He is survived by his wife, Vera; his daughter; a son, Jimmy; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A clandestine burial account for ancestors and accompany will be captivated at 2 p.m. Thursday at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary, 1218 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles.
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