Vince Guaraldi Biography
Vince Guaraldi (July 17, 1928 - February 6, 1976) was an American jazz musician and pianist best known for composing music for animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip.
Guaraldi was born in San Francisco, California. He graduated from Lincoln High School, attended San Francisco State College, and served as an Army cook in the Korean War.
In his first serious gig, he had to fill in for Art Tatum.
His first recording came in 1953 when he played on the Cal Tjader Trio release Vibratharpe. By 1955, Guaraldi had put together his own trio with Eddie Duran and Dean Reilly.
He wrote many pieces for the popular animated Peanuts television holiday specials; his most-recognized tune is "Linus and Lucy" from A Charlie Brown Christmas, a song which has been adopted by fans worldwide as the musical signature of the Peanuts franchise.
One of his well-known pieces is "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," for which he won a Grammy in the category "Best Original Jazz Composition." The track appears on the 1962 album Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, inspired by the French/Brazilian film "Black Orpheus," which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Picture.
While searching for just the right music to accompany a planned Peanuts Christmas special, Charles Schulz (the creator of the Peanuts comic strip) and Lee Mendelson (the producer of the special) heard a live club performance of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Vince Guaraldi's trio on the radio while traveling in a taxicab on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Schulz demanded to be taken to the club immediately and introduced himself to Mr. Guaraldi after the set. He proposed the idea of Mr. Guaraldi scoring the upcoming Peanuts Christmas special and Mr. Guaraldi enthusiastically took the job. He went on to compose scores for sixteen Peanuts television specials, and the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
Guaraldi died of a sudden heart attack at age 47 on February 6, 1976. He was found in a room at the Red Cottage Inn hotel, relaxing between sets at Butterfield's nightclub in Menlo Park, California. Guaraldi had just finished recording the soundtrack for It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown earlier that afternoon.
After Guaraldi's death, the music for the Peanuts series was composed by noted jazz musician David Benoit, who has often credited Guaraldi and the original Peanuts Christmas special music for his interest in jazz.
In 2004, a heretofore unknown live performance of the eight-part "Charlie Brown Suite" was released, restored from tapes in private collections.