NEAL HEFTI, the American jazz trumpeter, arranger and movie composer, died on Saturday October 11th at his home in Lake Toluca, California, aged 85. Arguably the biggest impact Hefti’s music made on popular culture was the memorable theme music he composed for the zany TV series ‘Batman’ in the mid-1960s – though he once described it as the hardest piece of music he ever had to write. Hefti’s other credits included the movie scores to ‘How to Murder Your Wife,’ ‘Harlow’ (which included the popular, much-covered, song ‘Girl Talk) and ‘The Odd Couple,’ a comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau which morphed into a ’70s TV series.
Born in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1922, Hefti took up the trumpet as an eleven-year-old. He soon became proficient and during the big band swing era of the 1940s was in demand as an arranger and penned orchestral charts for people like Earl Hines, Woody Herman and Harry James. In the 1950s and ’60s, he became an arranger for Count Basie and masterminded the legendary bandleader’s famous 1957 Capitol LP, ‘Atomic Basie.’ In fact, Miles Davis once said of Hefti: “If it weren’t for Neal Hefti, the Basie band wouldn’t sound as good as it does.”