Song Of Joy : Leroy Holmes ©2008JCMarion


Leroy Holmes was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September of 1913. Following his interest in music, he attended Northwestern College of Music and Julliard in New York City. He had his own short lived band in the mid thirties, and then concentrated on arranging, first for Vincent Lopez and then Harry James. After military service during World War II, he reunited with Harry James for a short time and composed songs such as “The Mole”, “One Stop Boogie” and “B-19”.By the early nineteen fifties Holmes began a prolific recording career for MGM Records and also a distinguished body of work for the motion picture industry. MGM released a number of 10 inch LP albums by Leroy Holmes beginning in 1952. “Pop Parade Vol 1” ( # 152) was the first, followed by “Dancing In The Dark” (# 215), “Neapolitan Nights” (# 225), and in 1954 “The Great Ones” (# 235), “Snuggled On Your Shoulder” ( # 246), and “Let Me Off Uptown” on # 267. MGM also released selections from many of these early Lps in the 45 rpm EP versions. (In the 1950's Leroy Holmes was often confused with Leroy Anderson, another prolific arranger and conductor).

During the summer of 1954 MGM released the song from the motion picture “The High And The Mighty” which was a big pop music hit for Leroy Holmes. The record on MGM # 11761 remained on the best seller charts for almost four months and got into the national top ten best sellers during this time. Later in the year Holmes recorded his version of “Tara’s Theme” from the movie “Gone With The Wind” which was a top twenty best seller for MGM on # 11854. Meanwhile in the mid fifties, the LP album became the format for adult contemporary music ( as opposed to the teenagers rock ‘n roll on 45 singles), and Leroy Holmes and his orchestra produced a great output during the decade. In 1955 Holmes recorded “Street Of Dreams” on # 3094, “Lush Themes From Motion Pictures” (#3172), “Movie Pops Parade” on # 3220 (which was followed by volumes 2 and 3), “Strictly From Dixie” (# 3262), “HiFi Salute To The Great Ones” on # 3325 (followed by volume 2), and “Take Me In Your Arms” on # 3378.

In 1956 “Blue Skies” with vocals by Art Lund was released on # 3411, followed by “Warm And Tender” on # 3430. The next year “More Lush Themes From Motion Pictures” on # 3480, “Souvenir d’Italie” on # 3539, an interesting LP called “Portrait Of Bing” on 3569, and the eyebrow raising titled LP “Music For Crazy Mixed Up People” on # 3608. As Holmes became involved in more and more arranging and composing for Motion pictures, his commercial recordings waned. In 1958 “Theme Songs From The Great Swing Bands” on # 3708, and 1959’s “Music From The Modern Screen” on # 3753. Another interesting concept was the LP album “A Musical Portrait Of Ray Charles” on # 4059, followed by “Lolita” on # 4064. Leroy Holmes also found time to lead the orchestra on an early version of the “Tonight Show” on television in 1956-57. MGM Records also tried Holmes in a new format – stereo sound 45 rpm singles. “Spanish Rock” / “In A Persian Market” on # 50102, “Flying Home” / “Cherokee” on #50106, in 1958 and “Chief Rocky Boy” / “Some Came Running” on # 50110, and “Bistro Bounce” / “Old Man And The Sea” on # 50120.

Holmes led a varied career from that time on as he garnered four academy awards for motion picture music and arranging and in films such as “The Bridge At Remagen” and “The Good Bad, And The Ugly”. He produced and arranged for a variety of artists such as country artist Carolina Cotton (Helen Hagstrom) on “Nola” and “Yodel Yodel Yodel”, the folk music group The Briarwood Singers for United Artist Records, and Connie Francis in the film “Follow The Boys”. In the nineteen sixties Holmes left MGM Records and went with United Artists and recorded a number of LPs with motion picture themes. “The Devil’s Brigade” and “Once Upon A Time In The West” were examples as were “For A Few Dollars More” on # 6608, and “The Good, Bad, And The Ugly” on # 6633. Other albums released by UA were “Cinema 69” (#6669), “New Provocative Films” (#6742), “Everybody’s Talking” (# 6731), “Song Of Joy” (# 6769), and “No No Nanette” on # 6806. In 1975 UA released an album of Max Steiner music from classic motion pictures by the orchestra conducted by Leroy Holmes.

In July of 1986 Holmes passed away at the age of 72 after a distinguished career as a composer, arranger, and conductor. Unfortunately, not any cds of Leroy Holmes music are readily available. Some are in print that feature one or two tracks by Holmes among various artists, but not a whole CD by him.

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