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Subject: Archive: Nelson Riddle, Oct. 6, 1985


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Composer and arranger
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Date Posted: Saturday, October 06, 05:16:40pm

Nelson Riddle, a composer and arranger best known for his song orchestrations for Frank Sinatra and Linda Ronstadt, among others, died of cardiac and kidney failure Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 64 years old and lived in Los Angeles.

Mr. Riddle's arrangements were hailed for their combination of hard-edged sophistication and near-impressionist attention to nuance. Over the course of his long career, he worked with artists as diverse as Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland and Kiri Te Kanawa. His theme song for the television series ''Route 66'' was the No. 3 song on the Billboard pop charts in 1962, and he also provided the music for ''The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,'' ''Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In'' and several other series.

In 1975, Mr. Riddle's original score for the film ''The Great Gatsby,'' in which Robert Redford and Mia Farrow co-starred, won an Academy Award. He was the music director for several other films, including ''Li'l Abner,'' ''Paint Your Wagon,'' ''Can-Can'' and ''Robin and the Seven Hoods.'' He won a Grammy Award in 1958 for the album ''Cross Country Suite.'' Recently, Miss Ronstadt's two albums of popular standards, ''What's New?'' and ''Lush Life,'' won critical and popular acclaim. A third collaboration is completed and will be released later this year.

Mr. Riddle was music director for the inauguration ceremonies of both President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and President Reagan in 1985.





'Classics' of Musical Art

But it was for his work with Frank Sinatra that Mr. Riddle was best known. He collaborated with the singer on many albums during the 1950's, the mood of which hovered between a swinging celebration of bachelorhood and more introspective ballads. In 1982 Robert Palmer wrote in The New York Times, ''The best American popular records of the 1940s and 1950s - the records that combined enduring pop songs with the intimate, relaxed, supremely musical singing of a Sinatra or a Peggy Lee and the sensitive orchestrations of a Nelson Riddle - deserve to take their place among the classics of American musical art.''











Mr. Riddle was born in Oradell, N. J., on June 1, 1921, and began studying arranging at the age of 17. He joined Charlie Spivak's Band in 1940, leaving in 1943 to spend a year in the Merchant Marines. He then joined the famous Tommy Dorsey Band as trombonist and arranger, until he was called away for Army service. After the war he moved to California to work as an arranger for N.B.C. Radio.

In California, Mr. Riddle continued his studies in orchestration and composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. In 1951 he joined Capitol Records, where he worked for the following 11 years. Later he became a free-lance composer and arranger.


His first wife, Doreen Moran Riddle, died in 1980.

Mr. Riddle is survived by his second wife, Naomi, and his six children from his first marriage: Nelson Riddle 3d, Christopher Riddle, Rosemary Ann Acerra, Bettina Marie Bellini, Cecily Jean Finnegan and Maureen Alicia Riddle.

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"Theme From "Route 66"Nelson RiddleSaturday, October 06, 05:17:35pm


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