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Famous Like Me > Composer > J > Gordon Jenkins

Profile of Gordon Jenkins on Famous Like Me

Name: Gordon Jenkins  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 12th May 1910
Place of Birth: Webster Groves, Missouri, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Gordon Jenkins

Gordon Hill Jenkins (12 May 1910-1 May 1984) was an American arranger who was an influential figure in popular music in the 1940s and 1950s, renowned for his lush string arrangements. Jenkins worked with the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, and Nat King Cole, among other singers. Jenkins was married to singer Loulie Jean Norman, who sings on a few of his albums.

Jenkins was born in Webster Groves, Missouri. He started his career doing arrangements for a St Louis radio station. He was then hired by Isham Jones, the director of a dance band known for its ensemble playing, and this gave Jenkins the opportunity to develop his skills in melodic scoring. He also conducted The Show Is On on Broadway.

After the Jones band broke up in 1936, Jenkins worked as a freelance arranger and songwriter, contributing to sessions by Isham Jones, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Andre Kostelanetz, Lennie Hayton, and others. In 1938, Jenkins moved to Hollywood and worked for Paramount Pictures and NBC, and then became Dick Haymes' arranger for four years. In 1944, Jenkins had a hit song with "San Fernando Valley".

In 1945, Jenkins joined Decca Records. In 1947, he had a million-seller with "Maybe You'll Be There" and in 1949 had a huge hit with Victor Young's film theme "My Foolish Heart", which was also a success for Billy Eckstine. At the same time, he regularly arranged for and conducted the orchestra for various Decca artists, including Dick Haymes ("Little White Lies", 1947) and Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters ("I Can Dream, Can't I", 1949).

During this time, Jenkins also began recording and performing under his own name. He headlined New York's Capitol Theater between 1949 and 1951 and the Paramount Theater in 1952. He appeared in Las Vegas in 1953 and many times thereafter. He worked for NBC as a TV producer from 1955 to 1957, and performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964.

By 1949, Jenkins was musical director at Decca, and he signed -- despite resistance from Decca's management -- the Weavers, a Greenwich Village folk ensemble that included Pete Seeger among its members. The combination of the Weavers' folk music with Jenkins' orchestral arrangements became immensely popular, to the surprise of everyone involved. Their most notable collaboration was a version of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene" (1950) backed by Jenkins' adaptation of the Israeli folk song, "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena". Other notable songs they recorded together are "The Roving Kind", "On Top of Old Smokey" (1951), and "Wimoweh" (1952).

Jenkins later moved to Capitol Records where he worked with Frank Sinatra, notably on the albums Where Are You (1957) and No One Cares (1959), and Nat King Cole, with whom he had his greatest successes; Jenkins was responsible for the lush arrangement of "When I Fall in Love" (1957), one of Cole's best-known recordings, and the albums Love Is the Thing (1957) and The Very Thought of You (1958). Jenkins also wrote the music and lyrics for Judy Garland's 1959 album The Letter and conducted several of Garland's London concerts in the early 1960s.

As rock and roll gained ascendency in the 1960s, Jenkins' lush string arrangements fell out of favor and he worked only sporadically. He arranged Sinatra's September of My Years (1967), for which he won a Grammy, and Sinatra's 1973 comeback album, Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back. He also worked with Harry Nilsson on A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night (1973), a collection of pre-rock and roll standards. The Nilsson sessions, with Jenkins conducting, were recorded on video and later broadcast as a television special by the BBC.

Although best known as an arranger, Jenkins also wrote well-known several songs including "Goodbye" (Benny Goodman's sign-off tune), "Blue Prelude", "When a Woman Loves a Man" and "Future", composed music for Sinatra's 1979 concept album Trilogy.

Jenkins died in Malibu, California in 1984 at age 73 of Lou Gehrig's disease.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Gordon Jenkins