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Author Topic: Noted Composer Neal Hefti Is Dead At Age 85  (Read 1917 times)

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Noted Composer Neal Hefti Is Dead At Age 85
« on: October 16, 2008, 04:42:46 pm »

Neal Hefti dies at 85; former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer

Los Angeles Times
By Dennis McLellan
October 15, 2008

Neal Hefti, a former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer who worked with Count Basie and Woody Herman and later composed the memorable themes for the movie "The Odd Couple" and the campy hit TV series "Batman," has died. He was 85.

Hefti died Saturday at his home in Toluca Lake, said his son, Paul. He did not know the cause of death, but said his father had been in good health.


Described as "one of the most influential big band arrangers of the 1940s and '50s" in "The Encyclopedia of Popular Music," Hefti turned his attention to composing for film and television in the 1960s.

Among his credits as a film composer are "Sex and the Single Girl," "Harlow" (one of his most famous tunes, “Girl Talk,” came out of the score), "How to Murder Your Wife," "Boeing Boeing," "Duel at Diablo," "Barefoot in the Park," "A New Leaf," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and “The Odd Couple,” whose theme he reprised for the 1970s TV series.

Hefti also gained wide notice for composing the energetic title theme for “Batman,” the over-the-top 1966-68 superhero series that became an overnight sensation.

It was, Hefti later said, the hardest piece of music he ever wrote.

"I tore up a lot of paper," he told Jon Burlingame, author of "TV's Biggest Hits," a 1996 book on television themes. "It did not come easy to me. . . . I just sweated over that thing, more so than any other single piece of music I ever wrote. I was never satisfied with it."

"Batman," he said, "was not a comedy. This was about unreal people. Batman and Robin were both very, very serious. The bad guys would be chasing them, and they would come to a stop at a red light, you know. They wouldn't break the law even to save their own lives. So there was a grimness and a self-righteousness about all this."

Hefti said it took him "the better part of a month" to come up with the theme.

"I was almost going to call them and say, I can't do it," he said. "But I never walk out on projects, so I sort of forced myself to finish."

Hefti's "musical solution to a combined dramatic and comedic problem," Burlingame wrote in his book, "was perfect: bass guitar, low brass and percussion to create a driving rhythm, while an eight-voice chorus sings 'Batman!' in harmony with the trumpets. It was part serious, part silly: just like the series."

Hefti's "Batman" tune became a Top 40 hit -- for both the Hefti and the Marketts' versions -- and won a 1966 Grammy Award for best instrumental theme.

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