Nelson Riddle’s life and music celebrated with biography

Biography celebrates the ‘musical genius’ of arranger Nelson Riddle.

Riddle collaborated with the biggest musical stars of his time, including Dean Martin, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. But it was his work with Frank Sinatra that made him a household name the world over. By the time his career was winding down, Riddle was working with new names on the scene like Linda Ronstadt.

He also wrote the hit TV theme “Route 66” from the 1960s series of the same name, composed the score to Batman: The Movie (1966), and turned down an offer from Paul McCartney to collaborate on a song. His shelf included Grammy and Oscar awards.

A revealing new biography from Geoffrey Littlefield, Nelson Riddle: Music with a Heartbeat – written with the help of the late arranger’s musician son Christopher – takes an in-depth look at Riddle’s life. Littlefield shares first-hand anecdotes, never-before-seen photographs and stories of some of the 20th Century’s biggest names in entertainment.

Littlefield traces Riddle’s life from the small town of Oradell, New Jersey, through a career that saw him hailed as the veritable king of what came to be known as the Great American Songbook — the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.

However,, like so many creative souls, Riddle was a complex and troubled figure – the book doesn’t shy away from this, touching on his troubled marriage to Doreen – mother of his seven kids – whom he cheated on multiple times.

“A complex and often forlorn genius, he will forever be remembered for his work with Sinatra,” Littlefield says. “But like fine wines, his later vintage was just as palatable, if somewhat of a surprise.”

The book is released in time to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s 100th birthday on June 1st.

Nelson Riddle: Music with a Heartbeat, Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing, ISBN-10: 1839754400, ISBN-13: 978-1839754401.

Available from,, and many other outlets

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