Jerry Fielding was a composer, arranger, and conductor of music for the big bands, radio, television, and films. With an introduction from his Pittsburgh mentor Max Adkins, Jerry became the arranger for the Alvino Ray. During the 1940s he arranged for Kay Kaiser, Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown and other big bands. In the late 1940’s he was the band leader for several popular radio programs. In 1951 to 1953 he was the band leader of Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life” TV show. Blacklisted from Hollywood by Senator McCarthy in 1953 he worked in Los Vegas, toured with his band, released three albums on Decca, and arranged and conducted albums for Kathy Barr, Pat Boone, Debbie Reynolds and Betty Hutton. With the blacklist lifted in 1961 he returned to Hollywood to write his first film score for Otto Preminger’s “Advise and Consent”. He worked on several films scores for Clint Eastwood, Sam Peckinpah and other directors that included the films, the Demon Seed, the Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, The Killer Elite, The Getaway, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet, Escape from Alcatraz, and The Bad News Bears. In television he wrote the theme songs McHale's Navy, Hogan's Heroes, Run, Buddy, Run, and The Bionic Woman. Fielding also worked on soundtracks for the TV shows Star Trek, He & She, The Good Guys, McMillan and Wife, and The Snoop Sisters.
Fielding was born in Pittsburgh in 1992 as Joshua Itzhak Feldman to the Russian immigrants Hiram Harris and Esther Feldman As a child he studied trombone, clarinet, sax, and piano. He joined his school band. Given a music scholarship for gifted instrumentalists, he attended the Carnegie Institute for short time, before an illness forced him to be bedridden for two years. During that time he listened to the radio and became a fan of the big bands. Recovering from his illness he took a job working in the pit band at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater. He studied composition and arranging with the Stanley’s conductor Max Adkins. Adkins also taught Henry Mancini and Billy Strayhorn. Under Adkins guidance Jerry wrote arrangements for the Stanley Theater band. Adkins introduced Jerry to guitarist/swing band leader Alvino Ray. At the age of 17 Jerry left Pittsburgh for Los Angeles to join Rey’s band as an arranger. His arrangement of Picnic in Purgatory in 1940 became a popular song. When Alvino Rays band was drafted in the army, Jerry found work with the Kay Kyser’s band, becoming the chief arranger in 1945. He went on to arrange for the big bands of Claude Thornhill, Jimmie Lunceford, Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet, and Les Brown. He worked as a band leader and recording artists in the 1950s. In the 1960’s and 1970’s he worked in television and movies. While working in Hollywood in the 1970s Fielding studied 20th century composition techniques with veteran composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco at USC. Tedesco also provided instruction to John Williams, Henry Mancini, Andre Previn and Nelson Riddle.
Fielding died in 1980 at the age of 57 from a heart attack followed by congestive heart failure while in Toronto ironically working on the score of a motion picture titled “Funeral Home”.