given name Richard E. Maltby
birth June 26, 1914, Evanston, IL
death Aug. 19, 1991, Santa Monica, CA
family four brothers and one sister
first wife Virginia Hosegood
second wife Phyllis Smith
son Richard Maltby, Jr., b.Oct. 6, 1937, Broadway director and lyricist
daughter Marilynn Smith
education Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
memberships American Federation of Musicians, 1931- ; ASCAP, 1954-
residence Cold Spring Rd., Syosset, NY, 1931; 220 Center Park South, 1960s;
The story goes that one of Maltby's brothers sent away for a trumpet to Montgomery Ward, but "couldn't get the feel of the instrument" so he gave it to Richard. Maltby played it in the school band and later studied under Leo Sowerby.
In 1940, Maltby was hired as staff arranger and conductor for radio station WBBM, a CBS affiliate, in Chicago. Five years later, he moved to New York City and joined ABC at the invitation of Paul Whiteman, who was, at that time, the network's Music Director.
Maltby made his first records as an orchestra leader (backing vocalist Harry Babbitt) on Mercury in 1946, but didn't hit high gear until he was signed to "X," an RCA Victor subsidiary, in 1954. Using top studio players, he recorded at least 121 sides for them and a sister label, Vik, between 1954 and 1958.
He received radio airplay from his St. Louis Blues Mambo and Star Dust Mambo right away, but scored even bigger with Themes From "The Man with the Golden Arm" in 1956.
He also recorded more than 450 sides for SESAC, a performing rights organization which distributed recordings to disc jockeys.
Consequently, requests came in for him to make in-person appearances. Booked by Willard Alexander, Inc., Maltby and his orchestra played at hundreds of college proms and ballrooms in the East.
As musical tastes changed, he moved around to various record companies, including Columbia (1958-59), and RCA Camden and Roulette (1960-61).
He also did at least a half-dozen sides for RCA Victor in February 1966, but they don't seem to have been released.
In July 1962, newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen wrote, "Bandleader Richard Maltby has parted with his wife, broken up his big band, and seems to have fallen for a young girl in Washington, D.C. Otherwise, things are about the same with him."
For the rest of his career, he completed various projects in both the pop and concert stage band fields.
There were dance band engagements at, for example, Freedomland in New York City in November 1962 and at the Steel Pier in Atlanic City in August 1963.
Following the President's assassination in November 1963, he composed Threnody: An Elegiac Tribute to the Memory of John F. Kennedy.
During 1967-69, he wrote arrangements and conducted for Lawrence Welk and associates on a number of Ranwood recordings, and penned Active Octave (original title, Provocative
Octave) and Chitter Chatter, which were published by Carl Fischer in 1968.
Maltby returned with a few more dance band jobs, including performances at MacArthur Park in Pasadena, CA in August 1973, Arthur's Restaurant in Van Nuys, CA in May 1975, and the Rainbow Room of Rockefeller Center in New York City in July 1979.
In 1981 he suffered the first of a series of heart attacks, which led to valve replacement surgery and a decade of declining health.
Meanwhile, his son, Richard Jr., had carried on in the industry. With composer David Shire, he wrote the lyrics for such Broadway musicals as "Starting Here, Starting Now" (1977), "Baby" (1983), and "Closer Than Ever" (1989).
Charles Garrod, Richard Maltby and His Orchestra (Zephyrhills, FL: Joyce Record Club,
Chicago Federation of Musicians, "Obituary - Richard Maltby," Aug. 20, 1991.
Dorothy Kilgallen, "Nightery Figure Up for Solon's Role," Washington [ D.C.] Post-Herald,
Jul. 24, 1962, p.A23.
"Maltby, Richard," in ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, Fourth Edition (New York City:
Jacques Cattell Press, 1980), p.319.
"Maltby, Richard," in The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (New York City:
Stockton Press, 1995), pp.453-454.
"Richard Maltby, 77, Dance Band Arranger," New York Times, Aug. 23, 1991, p.D17.
Joel Whitburn, Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music
(Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research Inc., 1986), p.293.
---, Top Pop Records 1955-1972 (Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research Inc., 1973),
I would like to expand this tribute, if possible, with a new interview of someone who was important to Richard Maltby's life and career. Are you an alumnus of his band, a member of his family, or a collector who is knowledgeable about his accomplishments? Please contact me via e-mail