2011 is Johnny Richard's Centennial
Johnny Richards born: Nov. 2, 1911 Toluca, Querétaro state, Mexico died: Oct. 7, 1968, New York, NY, USA (Cancer) né: Juan Cascales Theme: "Young At Heart" Instruments: Piano, Violin, Trumpet Johnny's family moved to Schenectady, New York when he was in his teens. His mother, a concert pianist who had studied under Paderewski, first taught him to play both piano and violin. In 1922, at age 10, he was already onstage playing in a vaudeville act, and subsequently played saxophone in theatre band. In 1932, after graduating from college he moved to London and began composing movie scores for Gaumont British films. In 1934 he moved to California and was hired by Paramount Pictures, where he worked as Victor Young's assistent, and at the same time studied composition with classical composer Arnold Schoenberg. While in Hollywood, he occasionally led his own small group -under his birthname - Johnny Cascales Orchestra. In this band were Charlie LaVere on piano, "Spike" Jones on drums, and Bonnie Lake, on vocals. Bonnie later went on to composing, as well as singing. She was the youngest of three daughters, The 'middle' daughter was Harriette, who became a world famous Hollywood and Television star under the name of Ann Sothern. The eldest sister, Marian, became a writer who became well known to American newspaper readers as the voice of 'Dear Abby'. (Marian also co-composed at least one song with Bonnie - "Red Nose", subsequently recorded by Louis Armstrong.) "Spike" Jones would later lead his own world-famous "Spike Jones and His City Slickers" orchestra.. Johnny led his first big band from 1940 to 1945, playing tenor sax, clarinet and trumpet (no recordings are known). Among the men in his orchestras were: In the early 1944 band: Johnny Richards (leader) Jimmy Roma, Tony DiNardi, 'Chubby' Kuster, Mel Arnett (trumpets) Frank Manousi, Lionel Sesma, Bob Pratt (trombones) Chet LeRoy (sax, vocals) John Slawson (tenor sax) A.Cesario, Ed Adiello (saxes) Ray Rossi (piano) Sibby Brock (bass) Billy Shuart (drums, vocals) Dottie Reid (vocals) The men in his New York, March 13, 1945 recordings included the same as above, but with 'Ziggy' Kelly, replacing Roma Bill Morris, replacing Kuster B.Birringer (tp) replacing Arnett C.McCormish (tb) replacing Pratt J.Shaver (sax) replacing LeRoy ca. Winter 1944/45: Johnny Richards comp, arr, ts-1 Jimmy Roma, Tony DiNardi, Chubby Kuster, Mel Arnett tp Bobby Pratt, Lionel Sesma, Frank Mancusi tb Chet LeRoy, John Shawson, Ed Adiello, A.Cesario sax Ray Rossi p Sibby Brock b Billy Shuart dr,voc Dottie Reid voc Pat Russo voc Start of 1946 in Los Angeles,CA: Johnny Richards (cond,arr) Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Al Haig (p) Ray Brown (b) Roy Haynes (?) (dr) unknown frh,fl, woodwinds, harp, strings Johnny then disbanded and settled in Los Angeles where he worked as arranger for Boyd Raeburn, Charlie Barnet, and Dizzy Gillespie, (1946-'52). Among his arrangement with Raeburn were 'Man With A Horn', Prelude To The Dawn', 'How High The Moon' and 'Soft And Warm'. During the early 1950's he led studio musicians on albums recorded by Helen Merrill and Sarah Vaughn and did some arranging for Dizzy Gillespie and Ben Webster. In 1952 he began a five year association as arranger for Stan Kenton. His most well-known work during this period was 'Cuban Fire' (Capitol T-731, rec. 1956) which consists of a six part suite Richards composed and arranged. Richards left Kenton to form his second big band which he led from 1956 to 1960. This band made LP's for Bethlehem, Capitol and Coral. The most noteworthy were Wide Range (Capitol T-855, rec. 1956) and Experiments In Sound (Capitol T-981, rec. 1958). A CD of 'live' material was released by Jazz Hour (JH-1010). During 1958-'60, he formed another band that occasionally played at New York's Birdland cafe. In 1961 he rejoined Stan Kenton and was arranger for the LP 'West Side Story' (Capitol ST-1609, rec. 1961). This LP features former bandleader Sam Donahue on tenor sax in one of his few recordings as member of the Kenton band. Richards left Kenton in 1964 to form his last band. This band made two albums for Roulette. One was an attempt to duplicate the success of 'West Side Story' ('My Fair Lady', Roulette SR-52114, rec. 1964). Poor health forced him to give up the band in 1967. Johnny Richards occasionally wrote popular songs and is co-composer of his theme, 'Young At Heart', which was a big hit record for Frank Sinatra.