The Music of Richard Hayman ©2003JCMarion


Richard Hayman was born in March of 1920 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Taking to music at an early age, he soon became proficient at that most unique of instruments, the harmonica. By the time he was a teenager, he was a member of Borrah Minevitch's group called the Harmonica Rascals. This troupe combined virtuosity on the harmonica with comedy and was a favorite in vaudeville and theaters in the thirties and forties. After a time with this group he joined another harmonica master Leo Diamond and found himself in Hollywood. Besides being adept at his instrument, he was also a talented arranger and a budding composer. Staying in Hollywood he worked with George Stoll and arranged music for a number of films including "Meet Me In St. Louis", "State Fair", "Girl Crazy", and "As Thousands Cheer". He also arranged music for Vaughn Monroe and was a member of the Horace Heidt Orchestra. His time in Hollywood led him to work along side of many of the true legends such as Alfred Newman, Erich Korngold, and Max Steiner. He also did some arranging for shows in Las Vegas. By 1950 he signed on as musical director and conductor for Mercury Records based in Chicago.

One of his first performances for Mercury was as conductor on records by vocalist Bobby Wayne such as "Madonna Of The Rosary" and "Because You're Mine" on #5897. Under his own name he recorded a cover of Leroy Anderson's "Blue Tango" and "For Sentimental Reasons" on #5790, and "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie" and "It Had To Be You" on #5825. His experience with motion picture music led him to his breakthrough in the field of pop music in 1953. Working on the score of the motion picture "Ruby Gentry", Hayman developed the theme song and worked out the arrangement which featured his work on the harmonica with a large string orchestra. The resulting song "Ruby" was recorded for Mercury on #70115 and was released in the spring of the year. The flip side called "Love Mood" was also an interesting treatment of a pop song with unison choral singing and lush instrumentation. "Ruby" entered the best seller lists during the second week of April of 1953 and stayed on the charts for five months. It never made the number one position (topping out at #3) but was a huge seller. The dramatic harmonica set against the strings with counter melodies was enormously popular and probably did more for the movie than vice versa.

Surprisingly enough, at about the same time that "Ruby" was such a popular seller, another hayman recording was also a big seller. This was his version of the song "April In Portugal" which was a big hit for Les Baxter on Capitol Records (Baxter by the way covered "Ruby"). Hayman's version of "Portugal" was a three month best seller and got as high as number twelve for Mercury. After the run of these two hits Hayman and his label decided to stay with movie themes and this resulted in three more hits for him. In late June Hayman recorded "Terry's Theme" written by Charlie Chaplin for the film "Limelight" (which is sometimes used as the name of the song) and for the flip side they decided on "Eyes Of Blue" theme music for the epic Western, "Shane". Both sides of the release on Mercury #70168 made the best sellers charts with "Limelight" getting as high as number thirteen. "Hi Lili Hi Lo" and "Something Money can't Buy" was a miss (on #70196) but in late September a movie title song "The Story Of Three Loves" based on a melody by Rachmaninoff was a winner. One of the interesting sidelights of this recording is that it featured another harmonica talent, Jerry Murad. The Mercury release on #70202 ("Sweet Leilani" was the flip) had a nice run of two months on the top sellers charts and got into the top fifteen in the country.

In 1954 Hayman covered a tune recorded by his former harmonica partner Leo Diamond on the tune "Offshore" on #70232, and followed that up with another movie tune "Sadie Thompson's Song" from the film "Miss Sadie Thompson" on #70237. Both sold moderately well getting into the national top twenty. Hayman tried a song from the Broadway stage with "Hernando's Hideaway" and "The Cuddle" on #70387, and then a song called "Celeste" on #70616 but both were relatively unsuccessful. However a 1956 teaming with forties bandleader Jan August on the tune "Moritat" (or "The Theme From The Three Penny Opera") on #70781 was a good seller. Three months on the charts and a top ten position let Richard Hayman score big during the rock 'n' roll era. By the late fifties Hayman began to concentrate his time in the recording studio on albums.

He recorded a number of LPs for Mercury, among them "Music For Romance" (#20048); "Reminiscing" (#20113); "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (#20123); "Only Memories" (#20248); "Havana In Hi Fi" (#6000); and "Harmonica Holiday" (#6005). He then recorded for the Command label with the albums "Cinemagic Sounds" and "The Genuine Electric latin Love machine". Hayman then concentrated on arranging and conducting. He had a long association with The Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler, and has been the principle conductor for a number of symphony orchestras across the country such as the Detroit, Calgary, St. Louis, and Hartford. His acknowledged skill in the field of motion picture music was rewarded with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With all of his wide range of talents in many facets of the musical world, he had the talent to be a force in the pop music scene during the Interlude Era.

There are a number of CDs available featuring the music of Richard Hayman. Most are imports, especially from England and Germany. Some of the titles are : "Splendid Hollywood"; "I Could Have Danced All Night : The Music of Lerner and Loew"; "Broadway Blockbusters"; "An Evening In Paris"; "World Famous Marches; "Strike Up The Band"; and "Phantom Of The Opera".

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