Les Baxter

Active - 1952 - 1992  |   Born - Mar 14, 1922   |   Died - Jan 15, 1996   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Horror, Action, Comedy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

A stylish composer, conductor, and arranger, Les Baxter created the music for over 250 films, television, and radio programs. On television, his best-known theme is the haunting whistling soundtrack for the original Lassie series. Baxter's music can be heard on numerous low-budget films of the '50s and '60s, including entries in the Beach Blanket series starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and in Roger Corman's Edgar Allen Poe series, which includes The Fall of the House of Usher (1960). Baxter started out playing sax at various Los Angeles jazz clubs. He gained a reputation as an excellent musician and began playing back-up for such singers as Billie Holiday and Mel Torme. Baxter was briefly signed to RCA Records, but then moved on to Capitol Records were he made a few successful albums. Baxter appeared in several films, including Untamed Youth (1957) with Eddie Cochran and Mamie van Doren. Les Baxter and His Orchestra continued appearing live until he died of complications from kidney failure.

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