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Hugh Martin, composer, lyricist, and vocal arranger, not always or necessarily in that order, has died at age ninety six. I hope he's passing that peace pipe in the Great Beyond with Judy and all the rest of the talents he knew. RIP.

The improbable events that led to this fantasy-come-true started in the fall of 1951. I was living in New York and happened on an announcement in one of the papers that the Palace, after many inglorious years, was planning to re-open on a two-a-day basis with an old-time vaudeville show headed by Judy Garland. I have never been an opening night freak, but I adored Judy, had written the songs for one of her movies, Meet Me in St. Louis, and thought to myself, "This is one opening night I'd like to attend." Someone tipped me off that she was staying at the Waldorf, so I phoned her, hoping I wasn't being a nuisance. She was cordial as could be, so I screwed up my courage and asked if it would be possible to get a couple of house seats for the première.


At the height of the swing band era, as well as continuing to write and compose show tunes, Martin also led his own quartet, and became a versatile crooner and vocal arranger.

Although sidelined by rock and roll, he continued to find success with Judy Garland, as her pianist in her solo show at the Palace Theatre, New York, in 1951, and as vocal director and arranger for her 1954 film A Star Is Born.

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Hugh Martin really was a wonderful musician. Besides being a fine composer, he really had a marvelous ear for arrangements, and did one of my all-time favorite charts, the original arrangement to "Sing for Your Supper" in The Boys From Syracuse. RIP, Mr. Martin.

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