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Hal Leonard


Lush string arrangements his trademark


Gordon Jenkins was born Gordon Hill Jenkins in Webster Groves, Missouri on May 12, 1910, the son of a movie theater organist. While still a child, he would sometimes play the organ at the theater, accompanying his father. Later, during Prohibition, he was the piano player in a St. Louis speakeasy. In the early 1930s, he was hired by a St. Louis radio station where he played banjo and piano. He was then hired by Isham Jones to play the piano and write arrangements for Jones's band. When the band was taken over by Woody Herman in 1936, Jenkins continued as the band's arranger. During this period, he also wrote arrangements for Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, and Andre Kostelanetz.

In 1938, he moved to California, where he worked for Paramount Pictures. In 1939 he became music director for NBC's Hollywood based west coast division. From 1944 to 1948, he worked on Dick Haymes’ radio show. In 1945, he became a staff conductor for Decca Records. Jenkins soon became Decca's musical director, and was responsible for bringing The Weavers (a group that included Pete Seeger among its members) to Decca.

When he went to Decca, he also began recording successfully under his own name. He headlined New York's Capitol Theater between 1949 and 1951 and the Paramount Theater in 1952. He appeared in Las Vegas in 1953 and many times thereafter. He worked for NBC TV as a producer from 1955 to 1957, and performed at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964.

In 1957 he arranged and conducted one of Nat "King" Cole's finest…

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Discography Highlights

BLUE PRELUDE Joe Bishop and Gordon Jenkins
Music Sales Corp.

P S I LOVE YOU Johnny Mercer, Music by Gordon Jenkins
Johnny Mercer Foundation/Universal MCA Music Publishing

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