Co-wrote music and lyrics for Tony winners "Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees."

Browse Song Catalog: ASCAP

Richard Adler


Composed for Broadway, television, and award winning symphonic works.

Richard Adler was born in New York City in 1921. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina and served as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War 1.

Mr. Adler co-composed the music and lyrics for numerous musicals including The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, both of which won Tony awards for best musical and best score. Mr. Adler's score for his musical about Africa, Kwamina, earned him a Tony nomination. The revised Kwamina was tried out in Columbus, Ohio, November 1998 and received rave notices and audience acclaim.

Recordings of his biggest hit songs, You Gotta Have Heart, Hey There, Hernando's Hideaway, Whatever Lola Wants, Steam Heat, Rags to Riches, Another Time, Another Place, and Everybody Loves a Lover, have sold over 30 million copies.

Mr. Adler's television musicals Little Women, Gift of the Magi, and Olympus 7,000 were critically acclaimed and his commercials, created for major, corporations, won Best Commercial of the Year three years in a row from the National Advertising Association.

During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Richard Adler staged and produced numerous Presidential entertainments as White House Consultant for the Arts. He also served as a Trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. from 1964 to 1977. Between 1978 and 1993, Mr. Adler composed numerous symphonic works, including four Pulitzer Prize nominees, Retrospectrum (premiered July 1979, Carnegie Hall, Soviet Emigre Chamber Orchestra), Yellowstone Overture (premiered November 1980, American Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnegie Hall), Wilderness Suite (premiered February 1983, Utah Symphony, recorded on RCA Red Seal, commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Interior), and The Lady Remembers (premiered October 1985, Detroit Symphony at The Kennedy Center, recorded on RCA Red Seal, commissioned by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, celebrating the Statue's Centennial).

The University of North Carolina, the oldest state university in the U.S., commissioned Mr. Adler to compose a celebratory symphonic work commemorating its bicentennial. The work was world-premiered in 1993 and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Adler was commissioned to compose two ballets for the Chicago City Ballet: Emmy award-winning, Eight by Adler in 1984, which starred prima ballerina Suzanne Farrell (currently being presented annually by the Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet), and Chicago, a jazz ballet. His score for a ballet based on Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba had its world premiere February 1998 by Miami City Ballet and was critically acclaimed.

Mr. Adler is the recipient of numerous other awards and honors, including two Donaldson’s, two Variety Critics, and The London Evening Standard Award, the University of North Carolina Playmakers Lifetime Achievement Award, November 1999, as well as the coveted National Parks Service Honorary Ranger Award (1984), for which he became the eighth recipient. Others to receive this National Parks Award include Ansel Adams, Pat Nixon, Barbara Bush and President John F. Kennedy, the first to receive it (posthumously) in 1964. Mr. Adler is a member of the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.

In 1990 his autobiography, You Gotta Have Heart, was published. He also composed a new musical, Off-Key, which premiered in 1905. This poignant play about the lives and loves of mentally disabled adults received rave notices, such as, "Adler's bountiful score is its soul" from The New York Times. Celebrating his 5th year in entertainment, an album of 16 of his songs, sung by the renowned Marlene VerPlanck, was released by Varese Sarabande Records last spring.

Mr. Adler was working on two projects for a children's musical storybook and an adventure through a child's musical wonderland.
Damn Yankees, after a 2-year revival on Broadway and a three-year tour through the U.S., starring Jerry Lewis, was also presented in London. A revival of The Pajama Game played at the West End in London over the summer of 2014.

Richard Adler died on June 21, 2012, close to his home in Southhampton, New York.

"Let dissonance be limited to musical expression. And may consonant harmony reign supreme in the years to follow."

Richard Adler, from You Gotta Have Heart