Ray Ellis Arranger for Darin, Mathis, Day and Holiday Dies


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Ray Ellis
Ray Ellis dies at 85; arranger worked with Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis, Doris Day, scores of others.
Ellis, a saxophone player who turned to arranging pop music, wrote charts for hits by the Four Lads, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Billie Holiday and many others.

Ray Ellis, the versatile pop music arranger who wrote the charts for hits by the Four Lads, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Doris Day and Johnny Mathis, has died. He was 85. Ellis, a longtime resident of Ojai, died Oct. 27 of liver cancer at an assisted-living facility in Encino, according to his son Marc, a film and television composer.

In a career that began in the mid-1950s, Ellis arranged the music for “Standing on the Corner" and “Moments to Remember" for the Four Lads; “Splish Splash" and “Dream Lover" for Bobby Darin; “Everybody Loves a Lover" for Doris Day; “Where the Boys Are" for Connie Francis; and “That Certain Smile" for Johnny Mathis.

According to his son, Ellis worked with producer Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records arranging a number of R&B classics, including Ben E. King's “Spanish Harlem," Brook Benton's “There Goes My Baby" and the Drifters' “Under the Boardwalk." He also worked on some Ahmet Ertegun productions.

“He's one of the greats that ever lived," said Peter Marshall, the longtime former host of “The Hollywood Squares" who is also a pop singer and worked with Ellis on a couple of albums. “He was so eclectic, he could arrange 'Splish Splash' for Bobby Darin and a version of 'Silent Night' for Barbra Streisand. When you hear his body of work, it is really astounding."

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