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Johnny Richards

Johnny Richards was one of the most progressive-minded arrangers from the 1950s and ’60s, turning away big, heavily orchestrated scores using a sometimes unabashed usage of dissonance and an excellent experience for Latin rhythms. His music continues to be called “provocatively multi-colored,” though regarding his notoriously portentous “Prologue” for the ego-tripping Stan Kenton, basically the phrase “provocative” says everything. Richards was raised in Schenectady, NY, learning piano, violin, banjo, and trumpet; his mom was a concert pianist who acquired examined with Paderewski. He began writing film ratings, initial in London in 1932-1933, and in Hollywood for the rest of the 10 years, as Victor Young’s associate at Paramount while learning structure with Arnold Schoenberg. From 1940 to 1945, he led a large band and returned to LA to set up for Charlie Barnet and Boyd Raeburn. He also organized a string recording for Dizzy Gillespie in 1950, alongside recording times with Sarah Vaughan, Helen Merrill, and Sonny Stitt. His most well-known association was with Kenton, with whom he began organizing in 1952; Kenton’s recording Cuban Fire! can be an outstandingly flamboyant exemplory case of Richards’ function. Richards continuing to business lead his personal orchestras in 1956-1960 and 1964-1965, documenting for Capitol, Coral, Roulette, and Bethlehem, and co-wrote among Frank Sinatra’s personal songs, “Youthful in mind.”

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