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Jack Nitzsche

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Los Angeles, United States (1955 – 2000)

Bernard Alfred (“Jack”) Nitzsche (Chicago, April 22, 1937 – Hollywood, August 25, 2000) An important behind-the-scenes figure in popular music for 40 years, composer/songwriter/producer/arranger/studio musician Jack Nitzsche served a crucial function in 1960s rock & roll, from helping to create the legendary “wall of sound” to working with artists like The Rolling Stones and countless others. Nitzsche was also a capable writer who penned a couple of major hits and developed a career as a film composer that included nearly three dozen movie scores.

Nitzsche grew up in Howard City, MI, which he left at 18 in 1955 to attend Westlake College of Music in Hollywood, CA; he remained based in the Los Angeles area for the rest of his career. After college in 1957 he found work as a music copyist. He was hired at Specialty Records by Sonny Bono, with whom he would work extensively over the next several years. He also worked at Capitol Records and Original Sound Records. At Original Sound, he wrote “Bongo Bongo Bongo,” an instrumental that was recorded by Preston Epps as a follow-up to his hit “Bongo Rock.” It made the national charts during the summer of 1960.

Nitzsche began getting arranging jobs, and when writer/producer Phil Spector relocated to the West Coast, he went to work with Spector, arranging many of Spector’s hits, among them “He’s a Rebel” by The Crystals and “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.

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