Billy May (Edward William May Jr.)
Photos with Billy May
BiographyPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Distinguished multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter, arranger, conductor and songwriter whose instantly-recognizable style remains a longtime trademark. The son of a roofer and a youthful asthmatic, his physician advised therapy through playing the tuba. In his school band, he developed an appreciation of the other instruments and became a self-taught trumpeter and trombonist, and also an arranger. On the occasion when Charlie Barnet was to perform on a Pittsburgh radio station, May came to the studio to show Barnet some arrangements, which Barnet accepted but never paid for. Read more... band. For Barnet, he provided the arrangement for his hits "Cherokee" and "Redskin Rhumba". Eventually Glenn Miller became aware of the Barnet band's sound and hired May away to play and arrange. For Miller, Billy May contributed the arrangements for "Serenade in Blue", "American Patrol" and "Take the 'A' Train". When the Miller band dissolved during World War II, May settled in Los Angeles to work with NBC and Capitol Records as a studio arranger, and with the bands of 'Les Brown', Woody Herman, Alvino Rey and Ozzie Nelson. But his longest association was with Frank Sinatra, with whom he worked on the noted albums "Come Fly With Me" (1957), " and "Come Dance With Me" (1958), "Come Swing With Me" (1961), and "Trilogy" (1979). In the early 1950s, Billy May had his own orchestra, for which the theme was "Lean Baby", featuring his trademark sax style. His last musical work was arranging a 90th Anniversary compendium of the music from Paramount Pictures in collaboration with noted composer-arranger Will Schaefer. But Billy May left the project due to his illness.