Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer of music, with over 900 songs and 43 Broadway musicals, leaving a legacy as one of the most significant composers of 20th century American music. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, his compositions have had a significant impact on popular music. Rodgers was the first person to win what are considered the top American entertainment awards in television, recording and Broadway – an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony Award — now known collectively as an EGOT. In addition, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, making him one of only two people to receive all five awards. Born into a prosperous German Jewish family in Arverne, New York City, Rodgers was the son of Mamie and Dr. William Abrahams Rodgers, a prominent physician who had changed the family name from Abrahams. Richard began playing the piano at age six, he attended P. S. 166, Townsend Harris Hall and DeWitt Clinton High School.
Rodgers spent his early teenage summers in Camp Wigwam. Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II all attended Columbia University. At Columbia, Rodgers joined the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. In 1921, Rodgers shifted his studies to the Institute of Musical Art. Rodgers was influenced by composers such as Victor Herbert and Jerome Kern, as well as by the operettas his parents took him to see on Broadway when he was a child. In 1919, Richard met Lorenz Hart, thanks to a friend of Richard's older brother. Rodgers and Hart struggled for years in the field of musical comedy, they made their professional debut with the song "Any Old Place With You", featured in the 1919 Broadway musical comedy A Lonely Romeo. Their first professional production was the 1920 Poor Little Ritz Girl, which had music by Sigmund Romberg, their next professional show, The Melody Man, did not premiere until 1924. When he was just out of college Rodgers worked as musical director for Lew Fields. Among the stars he accompanied.
Rodgers was considering quitting show business altogether to sell children's underwear, when he and Hart broke through in 1925. They wrote the songs for a benefit show presented by the prestigious Theatre Guild, called The Garrick Gaieties, the critics found the show fresh and delightful. Only meant to run one day, the Guild knew they allowed it to re-open later; the show's biggest hit — the song that Rodgers believed "made" Rodgers and Hart — was "Manhattan". The two were now a Broadway songwriting force. Throughout the rest of the decade, the duo wrote several hit shows for both Broadway and London, including Dearest Enemy, The Girl Friend, Peggy-Ann, A Connecticut Yankee, Present Arms, their 1920s shows produced standards such as "Here in My Arms", "Mountain Greenery", "Blue Room", "My Heart Stood Still" and "You Took Advantage of Me". With the Depression in full swing during the first half of the 1930s, the team sought greener pastures in Hollywood; the hardworking Rodgers regretted these fallow years, but he and Hart did write some classic songs and film scores while out west, including Love Me Tonight, which introduced three standards: "Lover", "Mimi", "Isn't It Romantic?".
Rodgers wrote a melody for which Hart wrote three consecutive lyrics which either were cut, not recorded or not a hit. The fourth lyric resulted in one of their most famous songs, "Blue Moon". Other film work includes the scores to The Phantom President, starring George M. Cohan, Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, starring Al Jolson, and, in a quick return after having left Hollywood, starring Bing Crosby and W. C. Fields. In 1935, they returned to Broadway and wrote an unbroken string of hit shows that ended only with Hart's death in 1943. Among the most notable are Jumbo, On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, The Boys from Syracuse, Pal Joey, their last original work, By Jupiter. Rodgers contributed to the book on several of these shows. Many of the songs from these shows are still sung and remembered, including "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "My Romance", "Little Girl Blue", "I'll Tell the Man in the Street", "There's a Small Hotel", "Where or When", "My Funny Valentine", "The Lady Is a Tramp", "Falling in Love with Love", "Bewitched and Bewildered", "Wait till You See Her".
In 1939, he wrote the ballet Ghost Town for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with choreography by Marc Platoff. Rodgers' partnership with Hart began having problems because of the lyricist's unreliability and declining health. Rodgers began working with Oscar Hammerstein II, with whom he had written songs, their first musical, the groundbreaking hit Oklahoma!, marked the beginning of the most successful partnership in American musical theatre history. Their work revolutionized the musical form. What was once a collection of songs and comic turns held together by a tenuous plot became a integrated piece; the team went on to create four more hits. Each was made into a successful film: Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music. Other shows include the minor hit Flower Dru
Sammy Cahn was an American lyricist and musician. He is best known for his romantic lyrics to films and Broadway songs, as well as stand-alone songs premiered by recording companies in the Greater Los Angeles Area, he and his collaborators had a series of hit recordings with Frank Sinatra during the singer's tenure at Capitol Records, but enjoyed hits with Dean Martin, Doris Day and many others. He played the violin, he won an Oscar 4 times for his songs, including the popular song "Three Coins in the Fountain". Among his most enduring songs is "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", cowritten with Jule Styne in 1945. Cahn was born Samuel Cohen in the Lower East Side of New York City, the only son of Abraham and Elka Reiss Cohen, who were Jewish immigrants from Galicia ruled by Austria-Hungary, his sisters, Pearl and Evelyn, all studied the piano. His mother did not approve of Sammy studying it though, feeling that the piano was a woman's instrument, so he took violin lessons. After three lessons and following his bar mitzvah, he joined a small dixieland band called Pals of Harmony, which toured the Catskill Mountains in the summer and played at private parties.
This new dream of Cahn's destroyed. Some of the side jobs he had were playing violin in a theater-pit orchestra, working at a meat-packing plant, serving as a movie-house usher, freight-elevator operator, restaurant cashier, porter at a bindery. At age 16, he was watching vaudeville, of which he had been a fan since the age of 10, he witnessed Jack Osterman singing a ballad Osterman had written. Cahn was inspired and, on his way home from the theater, wrote his first lyric, titled "Like Niagara Falls, I'm Falling for You – Baby." Years he would say "I think a sense of vaudeville is strong in anything I do, anything I write. They call it'a vaudeville finish,' and it comes through in many of my songs. Just sing the end of'All the Way' or'Three Coins in the Fountain'—'Make it mine, make it mine, MAKE IT MINE!' If you let people know they should applaud, they will applaud."Much of Cahn's early work was written in partnership with Saul Chaplin. They first met. Cahn said, "I'd learned a few chords on the piano, maybe two, so I'd tried to write a song.
Something I called'Shake Your Head from Side to Side.'" Billed as "Cahn and Chaplin", they composed witty special material for Warner Brothers' musical short subjects, filmed at Warners' Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn, New York. "There was a legendary outfit on West 46th Street and Pransky... they were the MCA, the William Morris of the Borscht Belt. I got a room in their offices, we started writing special material. For anybody who'd have us—at whatever price." They did not make much money, but they did work with up-and-comers Milton Berle, Danny Kaye, Phil Silvers, Bob Hope. One of his childhood friends was Lou Levy, who had gone from neighborhood bum to blackface dancer with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Lyric writing has always been a thrilling adventure for me, something I've done with the kind of ease that only comes with joy! From the beginning the fates have conspired to help my career. Lou Levy, the eminent music publisher, lived around the corner and we met the day I was leaving my first music publisher's office.
This led to a partnership. Lou and I wrote "Rhythm is Our Business," material for Jimmie Lunceford's orchestra, which became my first ASCAP copyright. I'd been churning out "special lyrics" for special occasions for years and this helped facilitate my tremendous speed with lyric writing. Many might have written these lyrics better—but none faster! Glen Gray and Tommy Dorsey became regular customers and through Tommy came the enduring and most satisfying relationship of my lyric writing career – Frank Sinatra; the song became the Orchestra's signature song. The duo worked for Glen Gray's Casa Loma Orchestra and their premiere at Paramount Theatre, they worked for Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy and they wrote Until the Real Thing Comes Along. Cahn wrote the lyrics to "Love and Marriage,", used as the theme song for the FOX TV show Married... with Children. The song debuted in a 1955 television production of Our Town, won an Emmy Award in 1956; this was only one of many songs that Jimmy Van Heusen wrote for Frank Sinatra.
They were "almost considered to be his personal songwriters."Cahn contributed lyrics for two otherwise unrelated films about the Land of Oz, Journey Back to Oz and The Wizard of Oz. The former were composed with Van Heusen, the latter with Allen Byrns, Joe Hisaishi, Yuichiro Oda. Cahn became a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, he took over the presidency of that organization from his friend Johnny Mercer when Mercer became ill. Cahn died on January 1993, at the age of 79 in Los Angeles, California from heart failure, his remains were interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. He changed his last name from Cohen to Kahn to avoid confusion with comic and MGM actor Sammy Cohen and again from Kahn to Cahn to avoid confusion with lyricist Gus Kahn, he was married twice: first in 1945 to vocalist and former Goldwyn girl Gloria Delson with whom he had two children. They divorced after 18 years of marriage. In 1965, she re-married Mike Franks. In 1970, he married Virginia Curtis, a former fashion coordinator for the clothes designer Donald Brooks.
He was the father of Laurie Cahn and jazz/fusion guitarist Steve Khan who, early
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
Swing music, or swing, is a form of popular music developed in the United States that dominated in the 1930s and 1940s. The name swing came from the'swing feel' where the emphasis is on the off–beat or weaker pulse in the music. Swing bands featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement; the danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, a period known as the swing era. The verb "to swing" is used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong groove or drive. Notable musicians of the swing era include Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Larry Clinton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway. Swing has roots in the 1920s as larger dance music ensembles began using new styles of written arrangements incorporating rhythmic innovations pioneered by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines.
A typical song played in swing style would feature a strong, anchoring rhythm section in support of more loosely tied wind and brass. The most common style consisted of theme choruses and choruses with improvised solos within the framework of his bandmates playing support. Swing music began to decline in popularity during World War II because of several factors. Swing influenced the styles of traditional pop music, jump blues, bebop jazz. Swing music saw a revival in the late 1950s and 1960s with the resurgent Count Basie and Duke Ellington orchestras, with pop vocalists such as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Swing blended with other genres to create new music styles. In country music, artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican and Bob Wills introduced many elements of swing along with blues to create a genre called western swing. Gypsy swing is Lang's jazz violin swing. Swing revivals have occurred periodically from the late 1960s to the 2000s. In the late-1980s a trendier, more urban-styled swing-beat emerged called new jack swing, spearheaded by Teddy Riley.
In the late 1990s and into the 2000s there was a swing revival, led by Squirrel Nut Zippers, Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Lavay Smith. In Canada, some of the early 2000s records by The JW-Jones Blues Band included swing revival elements. Developments in dance orchestra and jazz music during the 1920s both contributed to the development of the 1930s swing style. Starting in 1923, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra featured innovative arrangements by Don Redman that featured call-response interplay between brass and reed sections, interludes arranged to back up soloists; the arrangements had a smoother rhythmic sense than the ragtime-influenced arrangements that were the more typical "hot" dance music of the day. In 1924 Louis Armstrong joined the Henderson band, lending impetus to an greater emphasis on soloists; the Henderson band featured Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Buster Bailey as soloists, who all were influential in the development of swing era instrumental styles. During the Henderson band's extended residency at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, it became influential on other big bands.
Duke Ellington credited the Henderson band with being an early influence when he was developing the sound for his own band. In 1925 Armstrong left the Henderson band and would add his innovations to New Orleans style jazz to develop Chicago style jazz, another step towards swing. Traditional New Orleans style jazz was based on a two-beat meter and contrapuntal improvisation led by a trumpet or cornet followed by a clarinet and trombone in a call-response pattern; the rhythm section consisted of a sousaphone and drums, sometimes a banjo. By the early 1920s guitars and pianos sometimes substituted for the banjo and a string bass sometimes substituted for the sousaphone. Use of the string bass opened possibilities for 4/4 instead of 2/4 time at faster tempos, which increased rhythmic freedom; the Chicago style released the soloist from the constraints of contrapuntal improvisation with other front-line instruments, lending greater freedom in creating melodic lines. Louis Armstrong used the additional freedom of the new format with 4/4 time, accenting the second and fourth beats and anticipating the main beats with lead-in notes in his solos to create a sense of rhythmic pulse that happened between the beats as well as on them, i.e. swing.
In 1927 Armstrong worked with pianist Earl Hines, who had a similar impact on his instrument as Armstrong had on trumpet. Hines' melodic, horn-like conception of playing deviated from the contemporary conventions in jazz piano centered on building rhythmic patterns around "pivot notes." His approaches to rhythm and phrasing were free and daring, exploring ideas that would define swing playing. His approach to rhythm used accents on the lead-in instead of the main beat, mixed meters, to build a sense of anticipation to the rhythm and make his playing swing, he used "stops" or musical silences to build tension in his phrasing. Hines' style was a seminal influence on the styles of swing-era pianists Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Jess Stacy, Nat "King" Cole, Erroll Garner, Mary Lou Williams, Jay McShann. Black territory dance bands in the southwest were developing dynamic styles that went in the direction of blues-based simplicity, using riffs in a call-response pattern to build a strong, danceable rhythm and provide a musical platform for extended solos.
The rhythm-heavy tunes for dancing were called "stomps." The requirement for volume led to continued use of the sousaphone over the string bass with the larger ensembles, which dictated a more conservative approach to rhythm based on 2/4 time signatures. Meanwhile, string bass player
Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, notable as the home of the U. S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the people associated with it. Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality in 1903, it was consolidated with the city of Los Angeles in 1910 and soon thereafter, a prominent film industry emerged becoming the most recognizable film industry in the world. In 1853, one adobe hut stood in Nopalera, named for the Mexican Nopal cactus indigenous to the area. By 1870, an agricultural community flourished; the area was known as the Cahuenga Valley, after the pass in the Santa Monica Mountains to the north. According to the diary of H. J. Whitley known as the "Father of Hollywood", on his honeymoon in 1886 he stood at the top of the hill looking out over the valley. Along came a Chinese man in a wagon carrying wood; the man bowed. The Chinese man was asked what he was doing and replied, "I holly-wood," meaning'hauling wood.'
H. J. Whitley decided to name his new town Hollywood. "Holly" would represent England and "wood" would represent his Scottish heritage. Whitley had started over 100 towns across the western United States. Whitley arranged to buy the 480 acres E. C. Hurd ranch, they shook hands on the deal. Whitley shared his plans for the new town with General Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Ivar Weid, a prominent businessman in the area. Daeida Wilcox learned of the name Hollywood from Ivar Weid, her neighbor in Holly Canyon and a prominent investor and friend of Whitley's, she recommended the same name to Harvey. H. Wilcox, who had purchased 120 acres on February 1, 1887, it wasn't until August 1887 Wilcox decided to use that name and filed with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office on a deed and parcel map of the property. The early real-estate boom busted at the end of that year. By 1900, the region had a post office, newspaper and two markets. Los Angeles, with a population of 102,479 lay 10 miles east through the vineyards, barley fields, citrus groves.
A single-track streetcar line ran down the middle of Prospect Avenue from it, but service was infrequent and the trip took two hours. The old citrus fruit-packing house was converted into a livery stable, improving transportation for the inhabitants of Hollywood; the Hollywood Hotel was opened in 1902 by H. J. Whitley, a president of the Los Pacific Boulevard and Development Company. Having acquired the Hurd ranch and subdivided it, Whitley built the hotel to attract land buyers. Flanking the west side of Highland Avenue, the structure fronted on Prospect Avenue, still a dusty, unpaved road, was graded and graveled; the hotel was to become internationally known and was the center of the civic and social life and home of the stars for many years. Whitley's company sold one of the early residential areas, the Ocean View Tract. Whitley did much to promote the area, he paid thousands of dollars for electric lighting, including bringing electricity and building a bank, as well as a road into the Cahuenga Pass.
The lighting ran for several blocks down Prospect Avenue. Whitley's land was centered on Highland Avenue, his 1918 development, Whitley Heights, was named for him. Hollywood was incorporated as a municipality on November 14, 1903, by a vote of 88 for and 77 against. On January 30, 1904, the voters in Hollywood decided, by a vote of 113 to 96, for the banishment of liquor in the city, except when it was being sold for medicinal purposes. Neither hotels nor restaurants were allowed to serve liquor before or after meals. In 1910, the city voted for merger with Los Angeles in order to secure an adequate water supply and to gain access to the L. A. sewer system. With annexation, the name of Prospect Avenue changed to Hollywood Boulevard and all the street numbers were changed. By 1912, major motion-picture companies had set up production in Los Angeles. In the early 1900s, most motion picture patents were held by Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company in New Jersey, filmmakers were sued to stop their productions.
To escape this, filmmakers began moving out west to Los Angeles, where attempts to enforce Edison's patents were easier to evade. The weather was ideal and there was quick access to various settings. Los Angeles became the capital of the film industry in the United States; the mountains and low land prices made Hollywood a good place to establish film studios. Director D. W. Griffith was the first to make a motion picture in Hollywood, his 17-minute short film In Old California was filmed for the Biograph Company. Although Hollywood banned movie theaters—of which it had none—before annexation that year, Los Angeles had no such restriction; the first film by a Hollywood studio, Nestor Motion Picture Company, was shot on October 26, 1911. The H. J. Whitley home was used as its set, the unnamed movie was filmed in the middle of their groves at the corner of Whitley Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard; the first studio in Hollywood, the Nestor Company, was established by the New Jersey–based Centaur Company in a roadhouse at 6121 Sunset Boulevard, in October 1911.
Four major film companies – Paramount, Warner Bros. RKO, Columbia – had studios in Hollywood, as did several minor companies and rental studios. In the 1920s, Hollywood was the fifth-largest industry in the nation. By the 1930s, Hollywood studios became vertically integrated, as production and exhibition was controlled by these companies, enabling Hollywood to produce 600 films per year. H
John Herndon Mercer was an American lyricist and singer. He was a record label executive who co-founded Capitol Records with music industry businessman Buddy DeSylva and Glenn E. Wallichs, he is best known as a Tin Pan Alley lyricist, but he composed music. He was a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as songs written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time, he wrote the lyrics including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Academy Award nominations, won four Best Original Song Oscars. Mercer was born in Georgia, his father, George Anderson Mercer, was a prominent attorney and real-estate developer, his mother, Lillian Elizabeth, George Mercer's secretary and second wife, was the daughter of a Croatian immigrant father and a mother with Irish ancestry. Lillian's father was a merchant seaman who ran the Union blockade during the U. S. Civil War. Mercer was George's fourth son, first by Lillian.
His great-grandfather was Confederate General Hugh Weedon Mercer and he was a direct descendant of American Revolutionary War General Hugh Mercer, a Scottish soldier-physician who died at the Battle of Princeton. Mercer was a distant cousin of General George S. Patton; the construction of Mercer House in Savannah was started by General Hugh Weedon Mercer in 1860. Neither the General, nor Mercer himself lived there, his mother's father was born in Lastovo, Croatia in 1834 to mother Ivana Cucevic and father Marijo Dundovic. Mercer liked music as a small child and attributed his musical talent to his mother, who would sing sentimental ballads. Mercer's father sang old Scottish songs, his aunt told him he was humming music when he was six months old and she took him to see minstrel and vaudeville shows where he heard "coon songs" and ragtime. The family's summer home "Vernon View" was on the tidal waters and Mercer's long summers there among mossy trees, saltwater marshes, soft, starry nights inspired him years later.
Mercer's exposure to black music was unique among the white songwriters of his generation. As a child, Mercer had African-American playmates and servants, he listened to the fishermen and vendors about him, who spoke and sang in the dialect known as "Geechee", he was attracted to black church services. Mercer stated, "Songs always fascinated me more than anything." He had no formal musical training but was singing in a choir by six and at 11 or 12 he had memorized all of the songs he had heard and became curious about who wrote them. He once asked his brother who the best songwriter was, his brother said Irving Berlin, among the best of Tin Pan Alley. Despite Mercer's early exposure to music, his talent was in creating the words and singing, not in playing music, though early on he had hoped to become a composer. In addition to the lyrics that Mercer memorized, he wrote adventure stories, his attempts to play the trumpet and piano were not successful, he never could read musical scores with any facility, relying instead on his own notation system.
As a teenager in the Jazz Era, he was a product of his age. He hunted for records in the black section of Savannah and played such early black jazz greats as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, his father owned the first car in town, Mercer's teenage social life was enhanced by his driving privilege, which sometimes verged on recklessness. The family would motor to the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina to escape the Savannah heat and there Mercer learned to dance and to flirt with Southern belles, his natural sense of rhythm helping him on both accounts. Mercer wrote a humorous song called "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry". Mercer attended the exclusive Woodberry Forest School in Virginia until 1927. Although not a top student, he was active in literary and poetry societies and as a humor writer for the school's publications. In addition, his exposure to classic literature augmented his rich store of vocabulary and phraseology, he began to scribble ingenious, sometimes strained, rhymed phrases for use.
Mercer was the class clown and a prankster, member of the "hop" committee that booked musical entertainment on campus. Mercer was somewhat of an authority on jazz at an early age, his yearbook stated, "No orchestra or new production can be authoritatively termed'good' until Johnny's stamp of approval has been placed upon it. His ability to'get hot' under all conditions and at all times is uncanny." Mercer began to write songs, an early effort being "Sister Susie, Strut Your Stuff", learned the powerful effect songs had on girls. Given his family's proud history and association with Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University, Mercer was destined for school there until his father's financial setbacks in the late 1920s changed those plans, he went to work in his father's recovering business, collecting rent and running errands, but soon grew bored with the routine and with Savannah, looked to escape. Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19; the music he loved and blues, was booming in Harlem and Broadway was bursting with musicals and revues from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin.
Vaudeville, though beginning to fade, was still a strong musical presence. Mercer's first few jobs were as a bit actor. Hole
Nelson Smock Riddle Jr. was an American arranger, composer and orchestrator whose career stretched from the late 1940s to the mid-1980s. His work for Capitol Records kept such vocalists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keely Smith household names, he found commercial and critical success again in the 1980s with a trio of Platinum albums with Linda Ronstadt. His orchestrations earned an Academy Award and three Grammy Awards. Riddle was born in Oradell, New Jersey, the only child of Marie Albertine Riddle and Nelson Smock Riddle, moved to nearby Ridgewood, where he attended Ridgewood High School, where he was encouraged to pursue his interest in music. Following his father's interest in music, he began taking piano lessons at age eight and trombone lessons at age fourteen. A formative experience was hearing Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Maurice Ravel's Boléro. Riddle said later: "...
I've never forgotten it. It's as if the orchestra leaped from the stage and smacked you in the face..."By his teenage years he had decided to become a professional musician. I wanted to be a jazz trombone player, but I didn't have the coordination." So his inclinations began to turn to writing — composing and arranging. Riddle and his family had a summer house in New Jersey, he enjoyed Rumson so much that he convinced his parents to allow him to attend high school there for his senior year. In Rumson while playing for trumpeter Charlie Briggs' band, the Briggadiers, he met one of the most important influences on his arranging style: Bill Finegan, with whom he began arranging lessons. Despite being only four years older than Riddle, Finegan was more musically sophisticated, within a few years creating not only some of the most popular arrangements from the swing era, such as Glenn Miller's "Little Brown Jug", but great jazz arrangements such as Tommy Dorsey's "Chloe" and "At Sundown" from the mid-1940s.
After his graduation from Rumson High School, he spent his late teens and early 20s playing trombone in and arranging for various local dance bands, culminating in his association with the Charlie Spivak Orchestra. In 1943, Riddle joined the Merchant Marine, serving at Sheepshead Bay, New York for about two years while continuing to work for the Charlie Spivak Orchestra, he studied orchestration under composer Alan Shulman. After his enlistment term ended, Riddle traveled to Chicago to join Tommy Dorsey's orchestra in 1944, where he remained the orchestra's third trombone for eleven months until drafted by the Army in April 1945, shortly before the end of World War II, he was discharged in June 1946, after fifteen months of active duty. He moved shortly thereafter to Hollywood to pursue his career as an arranger and spent the next several years writing arrangements for multiple radio and record projects. In May 1949, Doris Day had a #2 hit, "Again", backed by Riddle. In 1950, Riddle was hired by composer Les Baxter to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole.
Although one of the songs Riddle had arranged, "Mona Lisa," soon became the biggest selling single of Cole's career, the work was credited to Baxter. However, once Cole learned the identity of the arrangement's creator, he sought out Riddle's work for other sessions, thus began a fruitful partnership that furthered the careers of both men at Capitol. During the same year, Riddle struck up a conversation with Vern Yocum, a big band jazz musician who would transition into music preparation for Frank Sinatra and other entertainers at Capitol Records. A collaboration followed with Vern becoming Riddle's "right hand" as copyist and librarian for the next thirty years. In 1953, Capitol Records executives viewed the up-and-coming Riddle as a prime choice to arrange for the newly arrived Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was reluctant however, preferring instead to remain with Axel Stordahl, his long-time collaborator from his Columbia Records years; when success of the first few Capitol sides with Stordahl proved disappointing, Sinatra relented and Riddle was called in to arrange his first session for Sinatra, held on April 30, 1953.
The first product of the Riddle-Sinatra partnership, "I've Got the World on a String", became a runaway hit and is credited with relaunching the singer's slumping career. Riddle's personal favorite was a Sinatra ballad album, one of his most successful recordings, Only the Lonely. For the next decade, Riddle continued to arrange for Sinatra and Cole, in addition to such Capitol artists as Kate Smith, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Keely Smith, Sue Raney, Ed Townsend, he found time to release his own instrumental discs of 45 rpm and albums on the Capitol label. For example, Riddle's most successful tune was "Lisbon Antigua", released in November 1955 and reached and remained at the #1 position for four weeks in 1956. Riddle's most notable LP discs were Hey... Let Yourself Go and C'mon... Get Happy, both of which peaked at a respectable number twenty on the Billboard charts. While at Capitol, Riddle continued his successful career arranging music for film, most notably with MGM's Conrad Salinger on the first onscreen duet between Bing Crosby and Sinatra in High Society, the 1957 film version of Pal Joey directed by George Sidney for Columbia Pictures.
In 1969, he arranged and conducted the music for the film Paint Your Wagon, which starred a trio of non-singers, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg. In 1957, Riddle and his orchestra were feature