Neal Hefti

Active - 1957 - 1976  |   Born - Oct 29, 1922   |   Died - Oct 11, 2008   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Alongside Nelson Riddle and Billy May (who, not coincidentally, also enjoyed frequent collaborations with Frank Sinatra), Neal Hefti qualified as one of the top American arranger-orchestrators of the post-WWII years. Born October 29, 1922, in Hastings, NE, Hefti entered the music world on a professional level by authoring charts for bandleader Nat Towles, then enjoyed a series of various jazz- and big band-related jobs that included playing trumpet with such notables as Horace Heidt, Charlie Spivak, and Charlie Barnett. Hefti's most significant accomplishments in those early years (personally and professionally) arguably arrived courtesy of his frequent touring with Woody Herman & the First Herd; in addition to wedding Herman's premier chanteuse, Frances Wayne, Hefti dramatically increased his arrangement work while under Herman's aegis -- a role that came to shape, hone, and define the young man's career for many years, from the mid-'40s onward.

As time rolled on, Hefti authored arrangements for artists including Count Basie, Harry James and Charlie Ventura, but also composed a vast number of tunes such as the iconic "Whirlybird" and "Li'l Darling," then moved into authorship of film and television music. Hefti compositions in this vein include the soundtracks for such features as Sex and the Single Girl (1964), Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (1967), The Odd Couple (1968), and A New Leaf (1971); he was also well known for scoring the popular television series Batman. Hefti died at age 85 in the fall of 2008.

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