Although Richard Maltby started his musical career as a trumpeter, it wasn’t long before the skills he became known for came to the forefront. Over the course of a long career that began in the 1930s, he made his mark as one of the best composers, arrangers, and bandleaders around. He was especially known for his TV and movie work, and as a music conductor for some of the biggest singing stars around.
Maltby was a Chicago native who was studying music at Northwestern in the 1930s when he decided to try for a music career. It was the heyday of the big bands, and it didn’t take long for him to find steady work in several second-tier outfits, gaining experience in the business while also sharpening his arranging and composing skills.
By the early 1940s Maltby was beginning to make a name for himself, working in radio and also furnishing music to big-time bands like Benny Goodman’s. Eventually he moved to New York, where he began working on network radio with stars like Paul Whiteman and leading studio bands for record companies. Things went well and by the early 1950s he was leading his own band and recording his first hit, a modern Latin take on an old song — “St. Louis Blues Mambo.”
The decade of the 1950s continued to be a good one for Maltby, who later charted his biggest hit, the theme song from Man With The Golden Arm. As the years passed he also began providing backing for singing stars like Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, and Vic Damone, before eventually dialing it back a little and working as an arranger for and conductor for Lawrence Welk. In his later years his health kept him pretty much musically inactive, although he did enjoy watching his son become a much-respected producer and lyricist. When he died in 1991 he was 77.
Richard Maltby – “St. Louis Blues Mambo”