Monday, January 29, 2018

"Hope for the best..." Mel Brooks' music man JOHN MORRIS dies at 91

"Hope for the best," the chorus sang in "The 12 Chairs," directed by Mel Brooks, "EXPECT THE WORST." 

Friends, fans and family of John Morris saw him live through his 70's and 80's. And he died last Thursday at 91. (October 18, 1926-January 25, 2018). Despite his great fame as a composer and arranger, he didn't care much for the lifestyle of a California musician; not only was he born in New Jersey, but died in New Jersey.

John Morris is mainly associated with Mel Brooks movies. John was behind "The Producers," "The 12 Chairs," "Young Frankenstein," "Blazing Saddles," "Silent Movie," "High Anxiety," "History of the World Part 1," "To Be Or Not To Be," "Spaceballs," and "Life Stinks." That's a lot of fun incidental music. He also helped in arranging and producing and sometimes co-writing the songs in those films, including the title track for "Blazing Saddles." Your download below, "Hope for The Best, Expect the Worst," was adapted from a Brahms Hungarian dance. Morris once said that when it came to composing songs, "All I have to do is think Johannes Brahms. And I know what Brahms does. I know how he wrote, and you just do what he does and you’re in business.”

One of John's favorite instrumental tracks is "Transylvanian Lullaby," which has been performed by both Pops and symphony orchestras. John, a Juilliard-trained musician, recalled Mel's instructions: "This is about the monster’s childhood. Write the most beautiful Middle European lullaby.” Morris: “So I wrote this tune, and it was perfect for violin. It’s that kind of melody.”

Aside from Mel Brooks comedies, John scored a lot of other wacko films, many starring Brooks favorites including Gene Wilder, Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman, including "Yellowbeard," "Haunted Honeymoon," "Last Remake of Beau Geste" and "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother." 

The soundtrack bin has John's name on "The Elephant Man" (for which he got an Oscar nomination), "Ironweed" and "Dirty Dancing." John's last work was for made-for-TV films: "Murder in a Small Town" and "The Lady in Question" (1999) and lastly, "The Blackwater Lightship" (2004). John also worked on Broadway shows and composed TV themes, ranging from Julia Child's "The French Chef" to the sitcom "Coach."

John leaves behind a wife and a daughter...his only son passed away three years ago. 

Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst (download or listen on line; no passwords, spyware or USA-hating cloud host hiding behind the Iron Curtain and screwing USA artists)

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