How the young John Williams got his start

Posted on: July 23, 2018

“This summer marks the 40th anniversary of John Williams bringing his repertoire to the Hollywood Bowl,” writes Tom Greiving in Wednesday’s (7/18) Los Angeles Times. “But his Hollywood story didn’t begin with Steven Spielberg’s 1975 shark thriller [Jaws], or even his early years scoring TV series like ‘Lost in Space.’ It started … when Williams was still a curly-haired teenager at North Hollywood High School and had, according to a 1949 Time magazine article, ‘the hottest band in Hollywood.’ … His father was a jazz drummer in the Raymond Scott Quintette [and a member of] the staff orchestra at Columbia Pictures…. Johnny Jr. was only 16, but already a talented jazz pianist…. He … practiced religiously (a discipline he still maintains at age 86)…. The Williams house was a constant jam session…. He would hang out at the scoring stages.… After studying at Juilliard he … cut some jazz albums [and] quickly became a first-call studio pianist [for] scores for Henry Mancini (those are his fingers on the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme) and Leonard Bernstein (‘West Side Story’). It was only a matter of time before he started scoring his own shows—and we all know how that turned out.”

Posted July 23, 2018