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Neal Hefti Former Big Band Trumpeter, Arranger and Composer Dies

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Neal Hefti Neal Hefti, a former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer who worked with Woody Herman and Count Basie 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.

Everybody in the music business loved Neal Hefti. He was one of the really great arrangers and composers of all time. He worked with all those guys -- Charlie Spivak, Harry James, Woody Herman -- and he made arrangements that were just spectacular.
Gary Owens-- Radio personality, a longtime friend.

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. 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," 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.
Neal Hefti


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