The “Golden Hits Of Th60s” 

Main  Menu 60s Menu A-BC-DE-FG-HI-JK-L M-NO-PQ-RS-TU-Z




(P. F. Webster, M. Jarre)

Columbia 43626

No. 9    August 13,1966




A creator of  his own highly distinctive mood music, and one of the founding fathers of the whole

genre of easy-listening  music, Ray Conniff  was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, on November 6, 1916.

Music was  everywhere in the Conniff household: Ray’s mother was a piano player, and his father was the

leader and trombonist of  the local Attleboro Jewelry City Band.


Under his dad’s instruction, Ray  quickly learned how to work the trombone, and while still in high school,

he formed his own band.  He soon became mesmerized by the different nuances and moods he could

conjure simply by determining which instrument in his group would play what, when it would play, and

against what type of  backdrop.  Excited about these possibilities, Ray sent away for a mail-order arranging

course and taught himself  the basics.


Graduating in 1934, Ray moved to Boston and played with a number of bands–Bunny Berrigan, Bob

Crosby, Harry James, Artie Shaw–then studied at Juilliard.   While serving in the military during World

War II  as an arranger with the Armed Forces Radio Service, he worked with Meredith Wilson and Walter



After years of analyzing pop music and radio jingles, Ray felt confident that  he had discovered the

secret of just what it takes to make a hit record.   “One day, something hit me,” Conniff told Joseph Lanza,

author of Elevator Music.   In 80 per cent of the records, either the song or the background score had

recurring patterns… You could call it a ghost tune behind the apparent one.”


In 1953, he approached  Columbia Records exec Mitch Miller with his brilliant idea; Miller played along.

Conniff dreamed up an arrangement for big-band vocalist Don Cherry, whose career was in a downslide.

Ray’s arrangement of “Band Of Gold” pole vaulted Cherry to the top of the heap once again.


Miller rewarded Ray with a position at Columbia as an arranger, conductor, and recording artist.   Conniffs

first  album, Its Wonderful, was a  heavy hitter, and eventually sold more than 500,000 copies.   Over the

next decade, 27 albums with the Conniff name became full-blown successes.  Apparently, Ray and his

Ray Conniff  Sound–which utilized his theorized “ghost tune,” a “slap that mule” percussion and a skillful

blend of  instruments (that often included Billy  Butterfiled, Al Caiola, and Doc Severinsen), and four

male/four female voices becking with do-doos and da-da- daas–could do no  wrong. Throughout the ’60s,

it was hard to listen to a “Beautiful Music” or “mood music” radio station–if one were so inclined–for an

hour without hearing that signature sound at least once.


As  an arranger for others, Conniff produced an impressive array of smashes for Frankie Laine, Johnny

Mathis, Guy Mitchell, Marty Robbins, and Johnny Ray.   During the summer of 1966, Ray grafted his unique

sound to a theme from Doctor Zhivago, “Somewhere, My Love.”   Ray had charted on the Hot 100 three

times earlier, and would do so once    more during his career, but the eerie theme would be his only top 40



Throughout the ’70s,  Ray Conniff remained active with Columbia Records.   Many of his albums have never

gone out of print and are still lurking.


In reply to jazz-buffs and big band purists who criticized Ray through out his protracted career, Conniff

said to Lanza:   “Instead of playing trombone solos that other musicians like, I made an about-face and

wrote my arrangements with a view to making the masses understand and buy my records…I could have

gone on as I did with the big bands and be a little over the heads of the general buying public, but this is

a better way to go.”