Sonny Burke (born Joseph Francis Burke;
March 22, 1914, Scranton, Pennsylvania –
May 31, 1980) was an accomplished
musical arranger, composer, big band
leader and producer. In 1937, he
graduated from Duke University, where he
had formed and led the jazz big band
known as the Duke Ambassadors.
During the 1930s and 1940s he was a big
band arranger in New York, worked with
Sam Donahue's band, and during the
1940s and 1950s worked as an arranger
for the Charlie Spivak and Jimmy Dorsey
bands, among others. In 1955 he wrote,
along with Peggy Lee, the songs to
Disney's Lady and the Tramp. He also
wrote songs with John Elliot for Disney's
Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom which won
the 1953 Oscar for Best Short Animated
He wrote the music for number of popular
songs that continue to be regarded as
'standards'. These include, Black Coffee,
with lyric by Paul Francis Webster, and
"Midnight Sun" co-written with jazz
vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. The songs
famous lyric was added later by Johnny
Mercer. Burke was an active arranger,
conductor and 'A and R man' [Artists and
repertoire] in major Hollywood recording
studios, including and especially Decca
Records. He also wrote and arranged the
theme for the early 1960's television show
Hennesey, a jazzy update of "Sailor's
Later Burke became musical director of
Reprise Records and was responsible for
many of Frank Sinatra's albums. He was
also bandleader for recordings of leading
singers such as Diana Shore, Bing Crosby,
The Andrews Sisters, the Mills Brothers,
Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Tormé.
He was one of the original founders of
NARAS, is credited with the formation of the
Grammy Awards, and served on the original
selection committee.[citation needed]
He died on May 31, 1980, aged 66. He was
survived by his wife Dorothy Gillis Burke
and four children, including the eldest, Jerry
Burke, founder of the Tres Palmas Institute.
His interment was at Holy Cross Cemetery,
Culver City.
Wikipedia Artist Biography - Sonny Burke
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