Born Sheridan Pearlman, 7 November 1936, Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Arranger, producer, songwriter.
Jimmie Haskell was and is a prolific arranger who has worked on all kinds of records, be it rock n roll, pop, jazz or heavy rock. The list of artists that he has worked with reads like a Who's who of popular music. Rock and roll fans will remember his mostly for his work (as arranger/producer) with Ricky Nelson.
Born in Brooklyn, Haskell moved to Los Angeles with his mother when he was nine. His first instrument was the accordion. Though his recorded appearances on accordion are rare (Elvis Presley's "Wooden Heart" perhaps the best known), as a musician, Haskell always considered himself primarily an accordionist. While in high school, he and two friends formed The Bachelors, a piano-guitar-accordion trio patterned after the Three Suns (who recorded the original of "Twilight Time" in 1944). His first professional arrangement was a chart of "Nature Boy", sold to Lionel Hampton (circa 1955).
In 1956 Haskell began to work for Lew Chudd's Imperial Records, starting out as a copyist. "Each time I did a lead sheet for Lew, I told him, 'You know, I'm really an arranger'". Finally, in April 1957, Chudd allowed him to arrange a session for the Scholars, a group from Houston that included Kenny Rogers. Gradually Chudd gave him more and more work. Then, when Ricky Nelson was signed to Imperial in August 1957, Haskell was put in charge of Nelson's sessions as arranger and producer, a job he would hold until Nelson left the label in 1962. Haskell never received any credit on the labels of the Imperial singles or in the sleeve notes of Ricky's LP's. Therefore many people thought that Ricky's records were produced by Ozzie Nelson, his father. Ozzie came to the first couple of sessions to make sure that everything went OK with his boy, but he soon saw Haskell's capabilities and put his trust in him. Jimmie's work with Nelson cannot be praised highly enough. Many consider Ricky's recordings for Imperial as some of the best rock n roll ever laid down and his ballads were equally strong. Except for the first few sessions, Haskell always worked with Ricky's road band (with James Burton on lead guitar), sometimes augmented by top session players. Only once did Jimmie play an instrument on a Nelson session : the cow bell on "Hello Mary Lou".
Haskell also acted as leader/contractor on many other rock n roll sessions for the Imperial label (Bob Luman, Roy Brown, the Burnette Brothers, Johnny Garner, Lew Williams, etc.). Four instrumental Imperial singles and two LP's appeared under Haskell's name, the most interesting 45 being "Astrosonic"/"Rockin' in the Orbit" (Imperial 5480, 1957), inspired by the launching of the Sputnik. Along with the "Count Down" LP from 1959, this is an early example of "space age pop".
When Ricky Nelson moved to Decca in early 1963, Haskell continued to produce his sessions until the end of 1965. Bud Dant had been appointed as the official producer, but already at the first session he saw that Ricky and Jimmie had a relationship that he would be wise not to change. So Dant never showed up at later sessions, but he did handle the paper work.
Haskell's contract with Imperial was not exclusive. During the 1960s, he worked extensively for Capitol, arranging the sessions of Bobby Darin, Wayne Newton, The Kingston Trio, Glen Campbell, The Lettermen, Johnny Burnette and Bobbie Gentry. Capitol released many singles by the Jimmie Haskell orchestra and two albums. After parting ways with Rick Nelson, Jimmie was successful as arranger of The Grass Roots, a group that scored 21 entries on the Billboard pop charts between 1966 and 1975.
In 1960 Haskell entered the motion picture soundtrack industry. He has scored 31 feature films, 32 TV movies and 445 episodes of television drama, comedy and variety programs. Furthermore, Jimmie has won three Grammies for "Best Arrangement of the Year", for "Ode To Billie Joe" (Bobbie Gentry), "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Simon and Garfunkel) and "If You Leave Me Now" (Chicago), all number one pop hits. In 1978 he received an Emmy ("See How She Runs"). According to his website, he was involved with over 135 Gold and Platinum records and albums. Currently he lives in the Orange County area in L.A. with his wife Barbara, and is still composing, arranging, conducting and producing music at his studio.
More info : http://spaceagepop.com/haskell.htm
Official website : http://www.jimmiehaskell.com/
Interview : http://www.km-rickynelson.com/interview.html
Acknowledgements : Todd Everett, Michel Ruppli's Imperial and Capitol discographies, various websites.
YouTube (Jimmie Haskell and his orchestra) :
Dik, January 2015
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