Nelson has featured in many books especially those about other artists such as Sinatra,
however he has written one himself and this year ( 2001) saw the release of one devoted
entirely to Nelson
ARRANGED BY NELSON RIDDLE
Warner Bros. Pulications Inc. First published 1985
September In The Rain The Life Of Nelson Riddle
Written by Peter J.Levinson
Billboard Books ISBN 0-8230-7672-5
Now in Paperback ( September 2005 )
Taylor Trade Publishing ISBN: Paperback 1-58979-163-0
Contact Gary Hall Taylor Trade The Rowann & Littlefield Publishing Group PO Box 317 OXFORD OX2 9RU UK
An ingenious arranger and songwriter Nelson Riddle is credited with having an enormous role in the careers of superstars such as Nat King Cole, Linda Ronstadt and Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Not only was Riddle a wonderful musician, but he had a sixth sense about writing for singers. He wrote songs that were not only wonderful to listen to, but highlighted a singer's performance. He was also behind such huge talents as Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Judy Garland and Rosemary Clooney
Peter J. Levinson, a friend of Riddle's, interviewed nearly 220 people to construct a fascinating insight into Riddle's enormus contribution to the world-wide music scene. He presented the musical side of Riddle, as well as private, including details of his marriage-ending affair with Rosemary Clooney.
Peter J.Levinson began his involvement with American popular music in late 1950s as a freelance writer in New York City. He then began work as a publicist for record companies in New York and Los Angeles.
A review of this book , reproduced below,
appeared in "In Tune International" magazine No 118
by it's editor Gerry Stonestreet
Surprisingly , this is the first biography of Nelson Riddle to be published , and high time too, considering the great arranger died in 1985 at the age of 64. The author published a very solid biography of Harry James a couple of years ago and is working on one of Tommy Dorsey at present. He has spent 43 years in the music business mostly as a jazz publicist and knew Nelson Riddle for 23 years. The conducted more than 200 interviews for this book and it contains a great deal of detailed information, written in a straightforward chronological manner.What emerges is a rather sad tale of a man highly successful in his chosen career but with an unhappy personal life, who continually made criticallly wrong choices at vital times in his life. The rather dour, aloof image we have came to associate with Riddle is only slightly leavened by examples of his somewhat sarcastic wit. By the end of the book, Riddle the man still remains an enigma, although clearly revered by his peers in the music business and warmly regarded by such as Frank Sinatra Jnr as a person as well as for his musical talent. There are many musical insights in the book, while the Sinatra connection has been well documented by others, the section on his work with Nat King Cole is particularly valuable, showing how relaxed and warm the relationship was. The author also spends worthwhile time in Nelson's lesser know work with Tommy Sands(Go on, EMI, those two albums make a perfect pairing), Sue Raney and Ed Townsend, among others. There is also a lengthy chapter on his "Last Hurrah" with Linda Ronstadt sessions right at the end of his life, which are revealing in that they show how the times had changed from the 50's when Sinatra, Cole etc could go into the studio and complete a 12 track album in three recording sessions. Despite this, it is clear that there was great mutual regard between the veteran arranger and the young rock singer, for whom the album that Riddle arranged for Sinatra, 'Only The Lonely' was clearly an inspiration. All in all, a very worthwhile and thorough attempt to do justice to Nelson Riddle's life and career. However, there are many irratating howlers which crop up throughout the book. Some examples: Matt Monro is described as 'the fine Australian singer', Alan Livingston is stated to have signed amongst others, The Beach Boys to Capitol by 1953 and we are told that when Riddle's divorce from his first wife was granted in 1969, the marriage had lasted 14 years, three months and twelve days, yet the couple were married in 1945! Trivial, maybe, in the overall scheme of things, yet still annoying.