SCL member Marc Ellis mourns the passing of his Father arranger composer Ray Ellis

Ray Ellis, arranger/composer, age 85, died in Encino, California from complications of melanoma. Ray produced and arranged for Streisand, Matthis, Manilow, Midler, Garland, Minnelli, Newley, Darin, Francis, etc. He composed for Broadway, TV, and film.

Ray was born in Philadelphia in 1923. During WWII, he enlisted in the Army, serving in The 1st Armored Div. band where he honed his skills as an arranger. He then returned home where he began a legendary career that spanned almost 65 years.

In 1946, taking advantage of the GI bill, Ray studied at Philadelphia‚s Hamilton School of Music. In the early 50‚s Ray played in the Paul Whiteman Band and performed on live TV with jazz combos at WCAU in Philadelphia. In 1955, Columbia Records Producer, Mitch Miller, discovered Ray. Under Miller‚s guidance, Ray arranged a string of top ten records for the Four Lads (Standing On the Corner, Moments To Remember), Johnny Mathis (Come To Me, That Certain Smile), Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin (Splish Splash, Dream Lover) Doris Day (Everybody Loves a Lover). Ray also recorded instrumental albums under the Ray Ellis and His Orchestra banner for Columbia (Ellis In Wonderland), and RCA Records (Our Man On Broadway).

With Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, Ray arranged R&B classics for the Drifters (Under The Boardwalk), Brook Benton (There Goes My Baby), Ben E King (Spanish Harlem) and Etta James (CC Rider).

During this period Ray gained critical acclaim with his arrangements for Billie Holliday\'s last album, Lady In Satin. At first this effort was misunderstood, as the lush pretty string arrangements seemed at odds with Holliday‚s harsh but evocative vocals. But time has redeemed the effort as a toured de force of poignant emotionalism.

In 1959 Ray became A&R director at MGM records where he created huge hits for Connie Francis, Frankie Laine and Clyde McPhatter. Later in his record career he worked with artists such as Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Anthony Newley, Michelle Lee, Ray Price and Maurice Chevalier.

In addition, Ray, in collaboration with his son Marc, did many hours of original music for animation for Filmation Studios, along with the original Spider Man Cartoon, the NBC Nightly News and The Today Show. Ray and Marc also created music for game shoes such as Sale Of the Century, Catch Phrase and Scrabble.

Most recently Ray worked on projects with contemporary artists, Adam Sandler, Barry Manilow, and Bette Midler. During his retirement years, Ray was also involved in fundraising efforts for the Ojai Music Festival.

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