TODAY WOULD HAVE BEEN HENRY MANCINI’S 93rd BIRTHDAY.
I can’t let today go by without acknowledging one of my greatest mentors and benefactors, never to be forgotten.
Upon arriving in L.A. back in 1976, I was greatly blessed to work for Henry, eventually administering all his music publishing for a short time before moving on to build my performance career – the original purpose in my relocating to the west coast.
I find it impossible to say enough nice things about Henry, (everyone else called him Hank, but I just could never bring myself to do so).
When I first interviewed with Henry, we connected and had a delightful time chatting. I thought I had a good chance of getting the job of Professional Manager of his music publishing group.
Just as the meeting was ending, he stopped and asked me, “Of all the music I’ve written, Wayne, what’s your personal favorite?”
Wow. What a loaded question. My first thought was “Everything is riding on my answer. What does he want me to say? Moon River? Mr. Lucky? Days of Wine and Roses?” The Pink Panther Theme?”
I decided in a flash that, as always, it’s best to just be honest. I looked up at him, a bit sheepishly, and confessed that I really liked everything he’s written, rattling off several titles.
“But,” I went on, “There’s one tune you wrote that gives me goose-bumps every time I hear its haunting melody – even though it wasn’t one of your biggest hit songs.”
His brow furrowed. “Which one?”
“Two for the Road,” I almost whispered.
There was a long pause. He leaned back in his chair as his face relaxed into a smile, “That’s my favorite.”
And, of course, the job was mine – as was the honor and pleasure.
Henry Mancini was an immense talent, a perfectionist, a true gentleman of great kindness and with a delightful sense of humor.
The world lost this giant of the music and film industry far too early, at the age of 70.
Here’s aYouTube LINK to a wonderful live concert performance featuring Henry with Johnny Mathis in a medley of two tunes, including my favorite of the vast Mancini repertoire, “Two for the Road.”