Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy 90th birthday to Nelson Riddle

Nelson Riddle: I truly admire and love your albums with Frank Sinatra, especially only the lonely and songs for swingin'lovers. Some of my favorite songs for which you wrote the arrangements are "Angel Eyes," "One for My Baby," "Anything Goes," "What's New?" -- and, of course, "I've Got You Under My Skin", remembering you today, happy 90th birthday!

Nelson Smock Riddle, Jr. (June 1, 1921 – October 6, 1985) was an American arranger, composer, bandleader and orchestrator whose career stretched from the late 1940s to the mid 1980s. It was his signature sound and iconic arrangements that defined a generation and his work for Capitol Records kept such vocalists as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, 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 albums with vocalist Linda Ronstadt.

Death and legacyIn 1985, Riddle died at age 64 of liver ailments. He is interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

Following Riddle's death, his last three arrangements for Ronstadt's For Sentimental Reasons album were conducted by Terry Woodson; the album was released in 1986.

In February 1986, Riddle's youngest son Christopher, himself an accomplished bass trombonist, assumed the leadership of his father's orchestra.

Following the death of Riddle's second wife Naomi in 1998, proceeds from the sale of the Riddle home in Bel Air were used to establish a Nelson Riddle Endowed Chair and library at the University of Arizona, which officially opened in 2001. The opening showcased a gala concert of Riddle's works, with Ronstadt as a featured guest performer.

In 2000, Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops released a Nelson Riddle tribute album entitled "Route 66: That Nelson Riddle Sound" on Telarc Records. The album showcased expanded orchestral adaptations of the original arrangements provided by the Nelson Riddle Archives, and was presented in a state-of-the-art digital recording that was among the first titles to be released on multi-channel SACD.

While in the Army, Riddle married his first wife Doreen Moran in 1945. The couple had six children. Riddle had an extra-marital affair with singer Rosemary Clooney in the 1960s, which contributed to the breakup of their respective marriages.[6] In 1968, Riddle separated from his wife Doreen; their divorce became official in 1970. A few months later he married Naomi Tenenholtz, then his secretary, with whom he would remain for the rest of his life. Riddle's children are dispersed between the east and west coasts of the United States with Nelson Jr. residing in London, England. Riddle's eldest daughter Rosemary is the trustee of the Nelson Riddle Trust.

Riddle was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music.

In a 1982 radio interview on WNEW with Jonathan Schwartz, Riddle cites Stan Kenton's "23 degrees north 82 degrees west" arranged by Bill Russo as inspiration for his signature trombone interplay crescendos.

Orchestrations for Frank Sinatra

Capitol albums

1953 Songs for Young Lovers
1954 Swing Easy!
1955 In the Wee Small Hours
1956 Songs for Swingin' Lovers
1957 Close to You and More
1957 A Swingin' Affair!
1958 Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely
1960 Nice 'n' Easy
1961 Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!!
Reprise albums

1963 The Concert Sinatra
1963 Sinatra's Sinatra
1964 Sinatra Sings Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River, and Other Academy Award Winners
1966 Moonlight Sinatra
1966 Strangers in the Night
1981 "The Gal that Got Away"/"It Never Entered My Mind" from She Shot Me Down

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