Final Lullaby For Pianist And Composer George Shearing
February 14th, 2011 No Comments »
It was with great shock and sadness that I read today of the passing of George Shearing, the masterful pianist and composer who wrote one of my favorite tunes, “Lullaby Of Birdland.”
The youngest of nine children, he was born blind to working class parents in London. His musical vision took him to the highest heights, working with some of the biggest names in music and composing over 300 classic melodies. He passed today, Valentine’s Day 2011, of heart failure at the age of 91.
For those who don’t know, “Lullaby Of Birdland” has an interesting origin. Apparently, music industry “executive” Morris Levy is to thank for its creation as I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
During this time Levy learned the value of owning the publishing rights of a piece of music – as each time a song he owned was performed or played he was entitled to royalties. Levy learned this when an ASCAP representative told Levy at Birdland he must pay publishing companies for performing live music. Levy’s attorney confirmed that. As a result he founded his first publishing company, Patricia Music, and commissioned George Shearing to write a signature piece for the club – the now-famous “Lullaby of Birdland”.
So basically, Levy, (a pretty disgusting human being if you read up on music history) helped bring about one of the most beautifully classic tunes of the day. The irony!
Regular readers of Jazzville, NJ may remember our post from almost 6 months ago which reported on the passing of George David Weiss, the great lyricist who teamed with George Shearing to produce this jazz standard. I’d like to think they’re celebrating together today, writing some more memorable tunes for us to hear in the great beyond.