Nelson Riddle
American arranger, composer, bandleader and orchestrator
Nelson Riddle
Nelson Smock Riddle, Jr. was an American arranger, composer, bandleader 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.
Biography
Nelson Riddle's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of Nelson Riddle
Relationships
View family, career and love interests for Nelson Riddle
News
News abour Nelson Riddle from around the web
Fisher Theatre opens season with 'Come Fly Away' - pride source.com
Google News - over 5 years
The show's score combines classic and newly discovered vocal performances from the Sinatra archives along with signature arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Quincy Jones, among others, and brand new charts, for this fresh innovative musical
Article Link:
Google News article
Monday's Best Bet: Glenn Miller Orchestra invites Syracuse's Elliott to share ... - Syracuse.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Elliott with join the band on Chevy Court for a special arrangement of “Come Fly with Me.” Elliott was the first male vocalist to sing the arrangement by Nelson Riddle. Other tunes, he says, will include the GMO classic “Serenade in Blue
Article Link:
Google News article
Wine and song sure to please at Bethel Woods - Times Herald-Record
Google News - over 5 years
A. I think when Linda Ronstadt recorded with Nelson Riddle and Carly Simon at the same time, and we saw a rebirth of those types of records in the late '80s and early '90s with Harry Connick and Natalie Cole and Tony Bennett's unplugged record and,
Article Link:
Google News article
Studio 312 Big Band to take the stage in Westerleigh - SILive.com
Google News - over 5 years
At one rehearsal, vocalist Tony DeMeo belted out Frank Sinatra's famous "You Got Me Under Your Skin" – using the 1956 Nelson Riddle arrangement – and "You Make Me Feel So Young," with the Quincy Jones arrangement that was performed at the Sands in 1966
Article Link:
Google News article
How can Wenger still be the best if he no longer hits the high notes? - Daily Mail
Google News - over 5 years
Are we talking Capitol Records-era Sinatra, arrangements by Gordon Jenkins, Billy May and Nelson Riddle, inventing the concept album, laying down definitive, masterpiece recordings of so many wonderful songs that it would be impossible to list them all
Article Link:
Google News article
Joseph Leo Bwarie: California's Jersey Boy - JazzTimes Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
Sinatra and Nelson Riddle, Ella and Buddy Bregman, Anita and Billy May, Sarah and Quincy Jones; richly symbiotic relationships between singer and arranger that rather magically prove the old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts
Article Link:
Google News article
Sinatra Still Swings, In a City Near You - Playbill.com
Google News - over 5 years
Pierce and Don Sebesky wrote additional orchestrations and arrangements to supplement the brilliant originals by the likes of Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones and, of course, Nelson Riddle. "There are a number of songs that we've been careful to keep
Article Link:
Google News article
BWW CD Reviews: HIROMI KANDA'S 2 Albums of Standards and Originals - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
Both feature lush orchestration thanks to producer Yusuke Hoguchi that ranks with some of Nelson Riddle and Billy May's most swinging arrangements. The standards stand out, but it's the originals that really make these albums (CDs) truly special,
Article Link:
Google News article
Jazz Vet Ted Herman and His Orchestra Jam Live at Repplier Park in Banning - Patch.com
Google News - over 5 years
Bandleader Ted Herman's connections in jazz and show business include legends such as Harry James, Count Basie, Henry Mancini, Nelson Riddle, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and Elvis Presley, according to his online bio
Article Link:
Google News article
STAGE TUBE: New Montage from COME FLY AWAY National Tour - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
The show's score combines classic and newly discovered vocal performances from the Sinatra archives, along with Sinatra's signature arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones, among others, and brand new charts, for this fresh innovative
Article Link:
Google News article
Linda Ronstadt Writing Memoir - Undercover Music News
Google News - over 5 years
It should be fascinating to hear how Ronstadt moved from country-rock to Gilbert & Sullivan (her role in the Broadway production and movie of The Pirates of Penzance), pop standards (her three albums with Nelson Riddle) and her work saluting her Latin
Article Link:
Google News article
A Spotify Playlist of Summer Songs - Boston magazine's Boston Daily (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
And what a powerful and breezy Nelson Riddle arrangement of a Henry Meyer composition! It swings, baby! João Gilberto, Meditação: The bossa nova stylings of Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto make for deeply satisfying summer listening
Article Link:
Google News article
John Selya Heads Bushnell-Bound Twyla Tharp's "Come Fly Away" - Hartford Courant (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The show includes original arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones, as well as new arrangements created for the production. The cast also includes Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Martin Harvey, Ramona Kelley, Christopher Vo, Anthony Burrell,
Article Link:
Google News article
Connecticut Ballet's Summer Dance Caravan to perform in Danbury - Ct Post
Google News - over 5 years
Artistic director Brett Raphael has chosen a program featuring "Paquita," a Spanish-style classical ballet; "Indian Summer," a dramatic work set in 1929 on the eve of the stock market crash (with music by Randy Newman and Nelson Riddle);
Article Link:
Google News article
Sigali Hamberger: A Toast to Ava Gardner - Times Square Chronicles
Google News - over 5 years
The rest is history: they are both nominated for Academy Awards, and Frank wins and starts a new series of hit movies and records with Capitol his great music with Nelson Riddle. Ironically, their marriage ends and he re-records “I'm A Fool to Want You
Article Link:
Google News article
COME FLY AWAY Comes To DeVos Performance Hall 10/4 - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
The show's score combines classic and newly discovered vocal performances from the Sinatra archives, along with Sinatra's signature arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones, among others, and brand new charts, for this fresh innovative
Article Link:
Google News article
Spacebomb: Strung out on strings - RVANews
Google News - over 5 years
For an absolutely breath-taking example of strings in popular music, listen to Nelson Riddle's setting of “When Your Lover Has Gone” on Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours. This arrangement is the perfect illustration of strings doing something that no
Article Link:
Google News article
Ballet to offer free performance in Danbury - Danbury News Times
Google News - over 5 years
Artistic director Brett Raphael has chosen the works "Paquita," a Spanish-style classical ballet; "Indian Summer," a work set in 1929 with music by Randy Newman and Nelson Riddle; and Darrell Moultrie's "Pulse," with music by the Japanese band United
Article Link:
Google News article
John Selya and Cody Green Will Dance in Come Fly Away Tour; Cast and Itinerary ... - Playbill.com
Google News - over 5 years
The show includes original arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Quincy Jones, as well as newly created arrangements for the production. The tour will reunite several cast members from the Broadway and Las Vegas productions, including Tony
Article Link:
Google News article
Musical Pied Piper of kids' playground - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Google News - over 5 years
Dad served in the Army during World War II and performed under the direction of his best friend, Nelson Riddle. When he came back to Rochester, he went to work for WHEC radio, becoming the station's staff piano player for 15 years
Article Link:
Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Nelson Riddle
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1985
    Age 63
    The agreement between the two resulted in a three-album contract which included what were to be the last arrangements of Riddle's career, with the exception of an album of twelve Great American Songbook standards he arranged and conducted for his old friend, opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa, in April 1985, six months before his death that October.
    More Details Hide Details Ronstadt recalls that when she initially approached Riddle, she did not know if he was even familiar with her music. He knew her name, but basically hated rock 'n' roll. However, his daughter was a big Linda Ronstadt fan and told her father, "Don't worry, Dad. Her checks won't bounce." When Riddle learned of Ronstadt's desire to learn more about traditional pop music and agreed to record with her, he insisted on a whole album or nothing. He explained to Ronstadt that he had once turned down Paul McCartney, who had sought him out to write an arrangement for one of McCartney's albums, "I just couldn't do it. You can't put something like that in the middle of a bunch of other things. The mood comes and then it changes. It's like putting a picture in a bad frame." Riddle was at first skeptical of Ronstadt's proposed project, but once he agreed, his career turned upside down immediately. For her to do "elevator music", as she called it, was a great surprise to the young audience. Joe Smith, the president of Elektra, was terrified that the albums would turn off the rock audience. The three albums together sold over seven million copies and brought Riddle back to a young audience during the last three years of his life. Arrangements for Linda Ronstadt's What's New (1983) and Lush Life (1984) won Riddle his second and third Grammy Awards.
    On January 19, 1985, he conducted at the nationally-televised 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
    More Details Hide Details The program was hosted by Frank Sinatra, who sang "Fly Me to the Moon" and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" (backed by a solo dance routine by Mikhail Baryshnikov). Working with Ronstadt, Riddle brought his career back into focus in the last three years of his life. Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, What's New "isn't the first album by a rock singer to pay tribute to the golden age of pop, but is... the best and most serious attempt to rehabilitate an idea of pop that Beatlemania and the mass marketing of rock LPs for teen-agers undid in the mid-60s... In the decade prior to Beatlemania, most of the great band singers and crooners of the 40s and 50s codified a half-century of American pop standards on dozens of albums... many of them now long out-of-print." What's New is the first album by a rock singer to have major commercial success in rehabilitating the Great American Songbook.
  • 1982
    Age 60
    In the spring of 1982, Riddle was approached by Linda Ronstadt — via telephone through her manager and producer, Peter Asher — to write arrangements for an album of jazz standards that Linda had been contemplating since her stint in The Pirates of Penzance.
    More Details Hide Details
    1982 saw Riddle work for the last time with Ella Fitzgerald, on her last orchestral Pablo album, The Best Is Yet to Come.
    More Details Hide Details
  • FIFTIES
  • 1977
    Age 55
    On March 14, 1977, Riddle conducted his last three arrangements for Sinatra.
    More Details Hide Details The songs, "Linda", "Sweet Lorraine", and "Barbara", were intended for an album of songs with women's names. The album was never completed. "Sweet Lorraine" was released in 1990 and the other two on The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings in 1996.
  • FORTIES
  • 1971
    Age 49
    He wrote the theme song for the 1971 television series Emergency!, and scored the 1977 miniseries Seventh Avenue.
    More Details Hide Details Nelson Riddle's Orchestra also made numerous concert appearances throughout the 1970s, some of which were led and contracted by his good friend, Tommy Shepard. In the 1960s and 1970s, Riddle was the band leader on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
  • 1968
    Age 46
    In 1968, Riddle separated from his wife Doreen; their divorce became official in 1970.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1966
    Age 44
    In 1966, Riddle was hired by television producer William Dozier to create the music for the Batman television series starring Adam West.
    More Details Hide Details While Neal Hefti had written the Batman theme song as it is known today, it was Riddle who did the first two seasons of Batman. Billy May did the third season's music. Riddle's music from Batman was issued on one soundtrack LP and one 45 RPM. During the 1970s, the majority of his work was for film and television, including the score for the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, which earned Riddle his first Academy Award after some five nominations. In 1973, he served as musical director for the Emmy Award winning The Julie Andrews Hour.
    Although Riddle would write various arrangements for Sinatra until the late 1970s, Strangers In The Night, released in 1966, was the last full album project the pair completed together.
    More Details Hide Details The collection of Riddle-arranged songs was intended to expand on the success of the title track, which had been a number one hit single for Sinatra arranged by Ernie Freeman.
  • 1963
    Age 41
    In 1963, Riddle joined Sinatra's newly established label Reprise Records, under the musical direction of Morris Stoloff.
    More Details Hide Details Much of his work in the 1960s and 1970s was for film and television, including his hit theme song for Route 66, steady work scoring episodes of Batman and other television series including the theme to The Untouchables, and composing the scores of several motion pictures including the Rat Pack features Robin and the 7 Hoods and the original Ocean's 11. In the latter half of the 1960s, the partnership between Riddle and Frank Sinatra grew more distant as Sinatra began increasingly to turn to Don Costa, Billy May and an assortment of other arrangers for his album projects.
  • 1962
    Age 40
    In 1962, Riddle orchestrated two albums for Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson, and Ella Swings Gently with Nelson, their first work together since 1959's Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book.
    More Details Hide Details The mid-1960s would also see Fitzgerald and Riddle collaborate on the last of Ella's Songbooks, devoted to the songs of Jerome Kern (Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Jerome Kern Song Book) and Johnny Mercer (Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Song Book).
  • THIRTIES
  • 1957
    Age 35
    In 1957, Riddle and his orchestra were featured on The Rosemary Clooney Show, a 30-minute syndicated program.
    More Details Hide Details
    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 (1956), and the 1957 film version of Pal Joey directed by George Sidney for Columbia Pictures.
    More Details Hide Details 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, and Jean Seberg.
  • 1955
    Age 33
    For example, Riddle's most successful tune was "Lisbon Antigua", which was released in November 1955 and reached and remained at the #1 position for four weeks in 1956.
    More Details Hide Details Riddle's most notable LP discs were Hey... Let Yourself Go (1957) and C'mon... Get Happy (1958), both of which peaked at a respectable number twenty on the Billboard charts.
  • 1953
    Age 31
    When success of the first few Capitol sides with Stordahl proved disappointing, Sinatra eventually relented and Riddle was called in to arrange his first session for Sinatra, held on April 30, 1953.
    More Details Hide Details The first product of the Riddle-Sinatra partnership, "I've Got the World on a String", became a runaway hit and is often 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, and Ed Townsend. He also found time to release his own instrumental discs of 45 rpm and albums on the Capitol label.
    In 1953, Capitol Records executives viewed the up-and-coming Riddle as a prime choice to arrange for the newly arrived Frank Sinatra.
    More Details Hide Details Sinatra was reluctant however, preferring instead to remain with Axel Stordahl, his long-time collaborator from his Columbia Records years.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1950
    Age 28
    In 1950, Riddle was hired by composer Les Baxter to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole; this was one of Riddle's first associations with Capitol Records.
    More Details Hide Details 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, and thus began a fruitful partnership that furthered the careers of both men at Capitol. During the same year, Riddle also struck up a conversation with Vern Yocum (born George Vernon Yocum), a big band jazz musician (and brother of Pied Piper Clark Yocum) 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.
  • 1949
    Age 27
    In May 1949, Doris Day had a #2 hit, "Again," backed by Riddle.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1946
    Age 24
    He was discharged in June 1946, after fifteen months of active duty.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1945
    Age 23
    While in the Army, Riddle married his first wife, Doreen Moran, in 1945.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • 1944
    Age 22
    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.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1943
    Age 21
    In 1943, Riddle joined the Merchant Marine, serving at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York for about two years while continuing to work for the Charlie Spivak Orchestra.
    More Details Hide Details He studied orchestration under his fellow merchant mariner, composer Alan Shulman.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1921
    Born
    Born on June 1, 1921.
    More Details Hide Details
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)