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Pete Rugolo
Pete Rugolo, c. December 1946, photograph by William P. Gottlieb
Pete Rugolo, c. December 1946, photograph by William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth namePietro Rugolo
Born(1915-12-25)December 25, 1915
San Piero Patti, Sicily, Kingdom of Italy
DiedOctober 16, 2011(2011-10-16) (aged 95)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Composer
  • arranger
  • producer
Years active1940s–1990s

Pietro Rugolo (December 25, 1915 – October 16, 2011), known professionally as Pete Rugolo,[1] was an American jazz composer, arranger, and record producer.

Life and career

Rugolo was born in San Piero Patti, Sicily.[1] His family emigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled in Penngrove, California. He began his career in music playing the baritone horn, like his father, but he quickly branched out into other instruments, notably the French horn and the piano. He received a bachelor's degree from San Francisco State College and then went on to study composition with Darius Milhaud at Mills College in Oakland, California, and earn his master's degree.[2]

After he graduated, he was hired as an arranger and composer by guitarist and bandleader Johnny Richards. He spent World War II playing with altoist Paul Desmond in an Army band. After the war, Rugolo worked for Stan Kenton.[2] He and songwriter Joe Greene collaborated on songs that made Kenton's band one of America's most popular.[3]

While Rugolo continued to work occasionally with Kenton in the 1950s, he spent more time creating arrangements for pop and jazz vocalists, most extensively with former Kenton singer June Christy on such albums as Something Cool,[2] The Misty Miss Christy, Fair and Warmer!, Gone for the Day, and The Song Is June!

During this period, he worked on film musicals at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and in the late 1950s he served as an A&R director for Mercury Records. Among his albums were Adventures in Rhythm, Introducing Pete Rugolo, Rugolomania, An Adventure in Sound: Reeds in Hi-Fi, and Music for Hi-Fi Bugs. Rugolo's arrangements for the album The Four Freshmen and Five Trombones propelled the group to recognition in jazz circles. It was their bestselling album.

Television and film scoring

In the 1960s and 1970s, Rugolo did a great deal of work in television, contributing music to a number of series including Leave It to Beaver, Thriller, The Investigators, The Thin Man, Checkmate, The Fugitive, Run for Your Life, Felony Squad, The Bold Ones: The Lawyers, Alias Smith and Jones, and Family.

He provided scores for a number of TV movies and a few theatrical films, such as Jack the Ripper (1959), The Sweet Ride (1968), Underground Aces (1981), and Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981).[4]

In 1962, he released an album of themes from popular television series, TV's Top Themes, which included his composition for the 1961 CBS sitcom Ichabod and Me. Rugolo's small combo jazz music featured in a couple of numbers in the film Where the Boys Are (1960) under the guise of Frank Gorshin's "Dialectic Jazz Band".


Rugolo died at the age of 95 on October 16, 2011, in Sherman Oaks, California.[1]


As conductor/arranger

With Nat King Cole

With June Christy

With Robert Clary

With Buddy Collette

With The Diamonds

With Vernon Duke

With Billy Eckstein

With The Four Freshmen

With Paul Horn

With Stan Kenton

With Ruth Olay

With Patti Page

Film and television scores

See also


  1. ^ a b c Grimes, William (19 October 2011). "Pete Rugolo, Arranger and Composer, Is Dead at 95". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 2162. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ "Joseph Greene, Composer With Stan Kenton's Orchestra, Dies". Los Angeles Times. 1986-06-28. Retrieved 2015-11-13.
  4. ^ "Pete Rugolo - Soundtrack.Net". Retrieved 25 April 2020.