38 Facts About Nelson Riddle


Nelson Riddle worked with many vocalists at Capitol Records, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keely Smith.


Nelson Riddle scored and arranged music for many films and television shows, earning an Academy Award and three Grammy Awards.


Nelson Riddle found commercial and critical success with a new generation in the 1980s, in a trio of Platinum albums with Linda Ronstadt.


Nelson Riddle's mother had suffered six miscarriages and one stillbirth in her lifetime.


Nelson Riddle was encouraged to continue his musical pursuits at Ridgewood High School.


The Nelson Riddle family had a summer house in Rumson, New Jersey.


Nelson Riddle enjoyed Rumson so much that he convinced his parents to allow him to attend his senior year in high school there.


In 1943, Nelson 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.


Nelson Riddle studied orchestration under his fellow merchant mariner, composer Alan Shulman.


Nelson Riddle was discharged in June 1946, after fifteen months of active duty.


Nelson Riddle moved shortly thereafter to Hollywood to pursue a career as an arranger, and spent the next several years writing arrangements for multiple radio and record projects.


In 1950, Nelson Riddle was hired by composer Les Baxter to write arrangements for a recording session with Nat King Cole; this was one of Nelson Riddle's first associations with Capitol Records.


When success of the first few Capitol sides with Stordahl proved disappointing, Sinatra eventually relented and Nelson Riddle was called in to arrange his first session for Sinatra, held on April 30,1953.


Nelson Riddle additionally used Los Angeles first-string session musicians the Wrecking Crew.


Nelson Riddle's personal favorite was a Sinatra ballad album, one of his most successful recordings, Only the Lonely.


Nelson Riddle found time to record his own instrumental discs, released on Capitol in both 45 RPM single, and LP album format.


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.


The mid-1960s would see Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle collaborate on the last of Ella's Songbooks, devoted to the songs of Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer.


In 1963, Nelson Riddle joined Sinatra's newly established label Reprise Records, under the musical direction of Morris Stoloff.


In 1964, Nelson Riddle partnered with Tom Jobim, who is considered to be one of the great exponents of Brazilian music and one of the main founders of the Bossa Nova movement.


In 1966, Nelson Riddle was hired by television producer William Dozier to create the music for the Batman television series starring Adam West.


Nelson Riddle was the musical director for 16 episodes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour between 1967 and 1969.


The collection of Nelson 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.


The Nelson Riddle Orchestra made numerous concert appearances throughout the 1970s, some of which were led and contracted by his good friend, Tommy Shepard.


On March 14,1977, Nelson Riddle conducted his last three arrangements for Sinatra.


In 1978 Nelson Riddle was Musical Director for the 50th Academy Awards ceremony, the only occasion on which he performed the task.


In December 1979, Nelson Riddle conducted and arranged "Something" for Sinatra's 1980 album "Trilogy".


Nelson Riddle had composed most of the incidental music for Newhart, and the show's 71st episode was dedicated to his memory.


Ronstadt recalls that when she initially approached Nelson Riddle, she did not know if he was even familiar with her music.


Nelson Riddle knew her name, but basically hated rock 'n' roll.


When Nelson Riddle learned of Ronstadt's desire to learn more about traditional pop music and agreed to record with her, he insisted on a complete album or nothing.


On January 19,1985, Nelson Riddle conducted at the nationally televised 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, the day before the second inauguration of Ronald Reagan.


Nelson Riddle married his first wife, Doreen Moran, in 1945, while in the Army.


Nelson Riddle had an extra-marital affair with singer Rosemary Clooney in the 1960s, which contributed to the breakup of their respective marriages.


In 1968, Nelson Riddle separated from his wife Doreen; their divorce became official in 1970.


Nelson Riddle was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music.


In 1985, Nelson Riddle died in Los Angeles, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, at age 64 of cardiac and kidney failure as a result of cirrhosis, with which he had been diagnosed five years earlier.


Nelson Riddle's cremated remains are inurned at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California in the Hall of David Mausoleum.