Bob Bain

The Silent Giant
The Silent Giant

Photo courtesy of Bob Bain. Bob Bain and Lynn Murray work on a track in the studio in the 1960s. Murray, a freelance composer for Universal, RKO and MGM Studios, listed among his credits the score for Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.

His name may be unfamiliar to even the most shrewd audiophile and TV/movie buff, but his clean, economic, and tasteful guitar style has filled the ears and hearts of millions. Bob Bain was there when the guitar slowly emerged from its status as a rhythm instrument to a viable, natural, melodic voice.

When rising through the ranks of studio performers, Bain worked with players and arrangers who were no less important than our finest contemporaries. These musicians laid the foundation for what would later become America’s popular music. His career could serve as a musicians’ bible – he started by playing in the school band and eventually performed with the most popular big bands of the 1940s – artists like Tommy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, and Harry James. These are the folks who helped Bain pull the guitar from the rhythm section to center stage.

With his ability to sightread music (rare among guitarists at the time), Bain earned his place as the number one guitarist for many Hollywood studios in the 1950s and ’60s. He played on countless jingles, albums, and soundtracks for television and movies. There were also many years of live radio.

Records by Frank Sinatra, including “Young At Heart” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin“, featured Bain on guitar, as did records with his favorite male vocalist, Nat King Cole (including “Unforgettable“). He also played on albums by Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, and Rosemary Clooney.

In the ’70s, a young, talented crowd of guitarists raised their axes and slowly began to dominate. Bain continued to record, write, arrange, produce and for 22 years he held the guitar chair for one of the greatest television orchestras of all time – The Tonight Show Band. Through the years, Bain’s talent, respect, and generosity opened the doors for many other studio guitarists, arrangers, and musicians.

The following merely scratches the surface of…

The Musical World of Bob Bain
In the late 1930s, while attending Hamilton High School, in Los Angeles, Bain played bass with the school orchestra and played guitar on the side. In 1939, he bought a Gibson Charlie Christian model from a teacher who didn’t like it. He still owns that guitar, and once lent it Jim Hall, who used it on the road for a year.

After graduating, Bain hit the road playing bass with a trio. One of the guitarists, Joe Wolverton, acted as teacher. They would sit up all night when the job ended, playing and learning.

When that gig ended, he came back to town working local night clubs, like The Tom Tom on Sunset Boulevard. The band included Les Paul on guitar, and pianist Paul Smith. Smith later became a major player in the L.A. studio scene. We all know what Les accomplished.

In 1942 -’43, he joined Freddy Slack’s band. An excellent pianist, Freddy was featured in the Ray McKinley band for several years. Bain recalls Barney Kessel, who he first met in 1941 in Los Angeles, sitting in with the band at Casa Manana, in Culver City.

“Barney was just great,” he says.

Kessel would later break into the recording studios, and Slack did a picture called The Sky’s The Limit with Fred Astaire.

Another musician Bain worked with was Phil Moore. Very well known in town, Moore wrote many significant arrangements for Slack’s band, including a concerto for barroom piano and symphony orchestra. It was a marvelous piece. He formed a group, the Phil Moore Four, with himself on piano, Marshall Royal on clarinet, Lee Young (Lester Young’s brother) on drums, and a bass player named Joe Comfort.

“When I joined, he called it The Phil Moore Four and One More,” says Bain. “It was great because back in those days I was the only white guy playing with four black guys. You just didn’t see that too much, you know.

“One day we did a record date when bebop came out,” he added. “Sinatra wanted to record a bop record, so they decided Phil’s group was the one. So we did this record with Sinatra called ‘Bop Goes My Heart,’ a sort of novelty bop recording. Sinatra had a little trouble hitting the flatted fifth.

“We worked at places like The Macambo, on the Sunset Strip, all the really nice night clubs There was one club called La Papillon. When Phil worked there, Howard Hughes had a table – best table in the house, and it was reserved every night for him. Nobody ever sat at that table. No matter how crowded the place was, that table was empty. One memorable night, about midnight, Hughes, wearing a sports coat, tie, and tennis shoes, sat at the table. He requested ‘I’m Gonna Take A Slow Boat To China,’ which we played. He stayed about 30 minutes, then left.”

When World War II began, Bain ended up in a U.S.O. group in Europe with actor George Raft and singers Louise Albritton and June Clyde. The troupe toured England and North Africa, and spent time in Italy. George fell ill and returned home, but Bain and the ladies stayed. What a trooper!

Bain eventually came home, and in late 1945, he received a call from guitarist Dave Barbour. Dave played in the Benny Goodman Band and later married the band’s singer, Peggy Lee. He also worked with xylophonist Red Norvo and his sextet. Barbour told Bain he was working with Tommy Dorsey at the Casino Gardens in Los Angeles, and that he was going to stay in town when the band went on the road. Barbour arranged for Bain to sit in with the band one night and when Dorsey asked if he would like to play with the band, Bain responded with a resounding, “Sure!” He finished the remaining eight weeks at the Casino Gardens and went out on the road. Included in that band was Nelson Riddle on trombone, Buddy DeFranco on clarinet, and Buddy Rich on drums.

“I sat next to Buddy Rich for almost two years,” Bain explains. “He was the highest-paid member of the band, by far, and he had a feature spot in every stage show. It would just break the place up. There was nobody like Buddy. But he and Tommy would get into personality clashes, especially if Tommy made a motion that the tempo was not right. Buddy would get really upset with him for that. When Tommy called a ballad like ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ or ‘There Are Such Things,’ which were very slow, Buddy would put his sticks down. He had a newspaper and he’d put it on the tom tom and while reading it, he would look at Tommy. That left guitar, bass, piano, and this big band. Tommy would be looking at me, and so the rhythm guitar had to move the band. It really got to be not funny. It was a constant bickering.

“Tommy’s gag was to walk off the stage while Buddy was playing his drum solo and walk next door to have a drink. He’d come back and Buddy would still be playing his solo. Buddy would play until he dropped. Tommy had to bring the band back in to get Buddy to stop his solo. It was that kind of a thing.”

Tommy was a strict leader, a great player, and a perfectionist who expected perfection.

“He could grab the trombone cold off the stand and hit the high C sharp every time,” Bain recalls. “Tommy might not be on the stand and in the audience, sitting. He would tell Al Beller, a violinist who led the band when Tommy wasn’t there, to pick one of the other trombone players to play the theme, and boy would they sweat it.” His band was very popular. One-nighters, theaters, whatever. They always had huge crowds.

When Bain joined Tommy Dorsey, a recording ban was in effect. On August 1, 1942, James Caesar Petrillo, the elected national president of the American Foundation of Musicians, ordered his musicians to stop all recording. His argument was that if the record companies could not create some system whereby musicians were paid for the use of their recordings on radio programs and in juke boxes, he wouldn’t let them record at all. Practically all the big band leaders disagreed. Thus, there were recording marathons scheduled to beat the ban deadline, and many arrangements were done on-the-spot. At Decca Studios, Bain and Hoagy Carmichael recorded many tunes in this fashion.

For more than a year, no major company made any records with instrumentalists. Singers, however, were allowed to record, usually with chordal backgrounds. Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole would use “vocal ground” in the background to substitute for the band. Bain recalls a lot of “illegal” after-midnight recording happening with Hollywood big bands in 1943.

Finally, in November 1944, when the recording companies agreed to pay a union royalty, the strike ended. Unfortunately, the singers had taken over and the recording field would never be the same for the big bands.

During the ban, Tommy Dorsey compiled many good tunes written by Sy Oliver, including “Opus One,” “Chicago,” and “Sunny Side Of The Street.” These and many other songs and new arrangements in the book that had not been recorded were part of a studio marathon that lasted two weeks, two sessions per day, at RCA.

Bain left Dorsey and toured with the Bob Crosby Big Band. This was a more relaxed band, in contrast to the tight ship run by Dorsey. Crosby had a good book, a good band, and good arrangers working for him. And like his famous older brother, Bing, Bob sang ballads with the band.

The original band consisted of many good players from Chicago. It was at the Windy City spot, The Blackhawk Restaurant, the band played some of its greatest music.

“He had a great show, was a great Master of Ceremonies, and told jokes about Bing,” remembers Bain.

While working with Crosby, Bain used his Charlie Christian model exclusively.

“Bob loved it. Once I played a different guitar and he told me, ‘Geez, I sound terrible with that guitar!’.”

The Christian had all the low-end Crosby preferred. Bain still remembers the intros he played behind Crosby. However, in these great bands, the guitar was restricted to rhythm parts.

“There wasn’t an electric part in the book, not even with Tommy Dorsey,” Bain laments.

Bain has always believed Les Paul was responsible for bringing guitars to the forefront.

“With two Ampex (microphones) in a room in Las Vegas, he and Mary Ford performed, and made records in their hotel room, going from one machine to the other,” Bain remembers. He often drove by Paul’s house on Sunset Boulevard.

“You could see Les’ garage from Sunset because it was right on the corner,” he said. “His light was always on and I’d just pull into the driveway, go back, and there’d be Les in his shirt sleeves, with two turntables, going back and forth, overdubbing. He was always wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and he was covered with solder burns. He was always tinkering with something. He was one of those guys, when you were talking to him, he’d pick the scab off. I’d say, ‘Les, that thing!’, and he’d say ‘I know, I can’t help it.’ He just kept doing it.”

Bain’s own band, The San Fernando Playboys, made recordings in Les’ living room. He later played local gigs and recorded with Harry James and his big band and then with Andre Previn and his trio.

At that time, Previn was working at MGM Studios and was one of the first film composers to write parts for the electric guitar. Fortunately, Previn brought Bain in to play them. The guitar intro section to the song “Mona Lisa,” recorded by Nat King Cole, was Bain’s idea.

“In the early studio days, the orchestrators would have the violas pick afterbeats with the horns arranged symphonically. Then they began to use rhythm guitar, which sort of got popular. At MGM, they were still using only one microphone to get the whole orchestra and one microphone on the piano. I had to sit on a riser. I needed a small ladder to get up on the riser, which gave me a shot at the microphone hanging from the ceiling.”

Bain played a blond Gibson L-5 with high action because its sound cut through the orchestra. He recorded several albums on RCA with Previn, still using his workhorse, the Gibson Charlie Christian model. The combination of his adept sightreading and studio finesse quickly put Bain in the first chair at several major Hollywood studios.

“Originally, in motion pictures, the only things you played were rhythm parts, which were chord symbols. A banjo part might have the melody written out. You would rarely get a mandolin part because most of the time, a violin player would double on the mandolin. Most guitarists tuned their mandolins like the first four strings of the guitar.”

Later, Bain began to record more mandolin and banjo. Examples of his banjo picking can be heard on the soundtracks to Thoroughly Modern Milly and Around The World In 80 Days.

In 1953, Bain received a call from Tommy Tedesco, a hungry East Coast guitarist who decided he belonged on the L.A. studio scene.

“He said he was new in town and looking for work,” Bain says. “I asked him if he would want to work an automobile show? He responded ‘I’ll work anything.’ I sent Tommy on his first job in L.A. Then he began to get work in the studios, a little bit at a time. Eventually, Tommy and I worked many dates together.

“He was an unbelievable gambler. He would play poker all night – all night long – and just come right from the poker game to work. On every intermission, he’d just fall asleep and you’d have to wake him to get him to come and sit down. Then he would do the same thing the next night.”

After that phone call to Bain in 1953, Tedesco became the most recorded guitar player in history.

From Stage to Studio
Most of Bain’s early studio dates were for jingles, about one to two hours each. A studio call could last two to three hours. In the 1950s and ’60s, records really went crazy. Bain was working so much at Capitol that he would leave his instruments at the studio to facilitate his busy schedule. One day, he received a frantic phone call from a music contractor who had called 21 other guitarists, but they were all booked. This was not uncommon.

Al Hendrickson, another great studio guitarist, shared the majority of work with Bain at Universal, Fox, Columbia, and Warner Brothers. When they wrote for two guitars, Bain and Al did most of the work. It was not uncommon for Bain to write the guitar parts for many of these sessions.

Other studio first call guitarists included Alan Reuss at Disney, Tiny Timbrell at Warner Brothers, Barney Kessel, and Howard Roberts at Columbia.

“There was one session Howard was playing on that came to an abrupt halt. Why? Howard forgot his pick and refused to record without it. Mrs. Roberts personally delivered the pick to the studio.”

The session resumed and Howard was a happy camper.

As the guitar became even more popular, leaders often incorporated several guitars for the sessions. Producer Jack Marshall did a TV show called “The Deputy” with Henry Fonda. He had five guitars as the main sound of the orchestra. “Bonanza” featured the big guitars of Bain, Tommy Tedesco, Al Hendrickson, and Laurindo Almeida.

“Eventually most dates would consist of a bass guitar, rhythm guitar, and two electrics. The guys really began to write for guitars. You did doubles, where two people would play rhythm guitar, then they’d switch to electric and so forth. It got to be very nice for guitar players in that time. If a three-hour session paid $100. If you played electric and rhythm, it was $150. If you played electric guitar, rhythm guitar, and banjo, it was $175. It wasn’t uncommon to make doubletime in the studios.

“Then, as the work got busier, the fellas who were really in demand asked for time and a half even if they didn’t play another instrument. That’s kinda how it got to be. The first trumpet player, the first trombone, and concertmaster also received a guaranteed double. It wasn’t unusual for a studio guitarist to make a six-figure salary.”

In fact, during Bain’s nonstop work at Capitol, he had to turn down a personal request from Frank Sinatra.

“I did all the early stuff with Frank. When he wanted to do a concert tour of Europe I told him, ‘You can’t pay me enough to go, Frank. I’m making too much money here.’ Frank understood, and Al Viola went on the tour. Once Al did that, he continued working with Frank.”

With such a demand on individual players, a call that went out even a month in advance would often have musical contractors playing musical chairs with the session men to accommodate such demands and find a replacement for that date.

Much as there were preferred guitarists at each studio, certain players were requested by individual leaders.

“Jerry Goldsmith, at Fox, would have an orchestra of 70 to 80 individuals,” Bain recalls. “The first cue would be simple. Then the second cue would be an elaborate gut-string solo with strings underneath. The inherent string noise problems made this work very tough. And they usually would want one clean take right off the top. And nobobdy told you anything. Until you got there, you didn’t know what was gonna happen.”

Henry Mancini was another leader who preferred Bain.

“Hank would always ask for me. If he used two guitars, he’d ask for me and Al Hendrickson. If he were to use three guitars, he’d ask for me, Al, and either Tommy Tedesco or Dennis Budimir or Alan Reuss for the third chair. Now if I did a date with, say, Percy Faith and Al Hendrickson was there, Al would play the first chair and I would play second. You just knew when you went in who would play first guitar. Tommy worked for a lot of leaders, and he would automatically play first guitar. There were never any problems with this arrangement. These guys were all so friendly, they were happy not to play first guitar. Being the first chair, you are responsible for all solos, and you’re out in the open.”

In the 1960s, Bob Bain’s association with Henry Mancini was extensive. Mancini played piano with the Tex Beneke Band, and Tex once played tenor for Glenn Miller. The band had a vocal group called the Meltones, featuring Mel Torme. When Mancini left, he moved to L.A. to get work as an arranger. When the Glenn Miller Story was being filmed, Mancini was hired as orchestrator. He knew the Glenn Miller sound because of this association with Beneke.

“The first record date I ever did with Hank was on his first album for Liberty Records. Liberty was just getting started then,” Bain recalls.

The record featured Bain on guitar and Dominic Frontiere on accordion. Frontiere was destined to be a composer, and he had achieved the highest BMI rating of any composer to date.

“Hank became very popular and everything he did featured guitar, especially the ‘Peter Gunn Theme’,” Bain said. “I would get calls from New York. Somebody you never knew. The guy would say, ‘Are you the guitar player that works with Mancini?’ Yeah. ‘Well I got a leader coming out there and he wants Mancini’s guitar player for this record date. Would you hold it for me?'”

This sort of thing happened a lot.

Even though Bain and Mancini would see each other two or three times a week, they never socialized. In fact, he never got involved with leaders or guys he worked for, except for Nelson Riddle.

“The only guy I hung out with was Nelson. We worked in the Dorsey band together and had already been friends before he became a well-known arranger. He and I would hang out all the time. He’d call me at 9 a.m. and say, ‘Hey give me a call about 11 and ask me to go out to lunch. I gotta get out of this office.'”

In 1958, Mancini became friends with producer Blake Edwards, who had this idea for a television show that eventually became the “Peter Gunn” series. Hank wrote all the music. The show sold and became an immediate bestseller. The session musicians were John Williams on piano, Rolly Bundock on bass, Jack Sperling on drums, and Bain on guitar. The same lineup was featured on the “Mister Lucky” series as well. Other great Bain/Mancini partnerships include Breakfast At Tiffany’s, accompanying Audrey Hepburn on the timeless classic “Moon River,” and The Great Race, with Natalie Wood doing “The Sweetheart Tree.”

Bain fondly recalls a memorable date with the late Laurindo Almeida.

“A great thing happened on the ‘Peter Gunn’ show one time,” Bain said. “There was an episode where there’s a murder in the balcony of a concert hall. It was like Segovia or somebody was giving the concert. So, I get to the show. It was always Wednesday at 8 p.m. at MGM. When I got there, Laurindo was there. I said, ‘What are you doing here?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, I got a call to be here.’

“Well, we scored the thing, and at the end, Hank had this cue for Laurindo to play. He was going to be emulating the concert guitar player on the stage while the murder is going on in the balcony. Hank and Laurindo had worked together before and naturally, we were all friends, so Hank tells Laurindo he has this little thing he wants him to play. ‘It’s about 32 bars and we’re gonna use whatever we need of it.’ It was a traditional D minor Bach piece. Laurindo looks at it and says, ‘Oh, how nice Hank. Good. I need two weeks to prepare.’ He put the music in his guitar case, put his guitar in it, and closed the case.

“Hank said, ‘Wait a minute!’ Then Laurindo said, ‘I don’t play Bach without having time to prepare.’ So Hank says ‘Well, what can you play?’ So he ended up playing some Villa Lobos he’d been practicing for something else. It was great! He just said, ‘I need two weeks to prepare,’ that was it. He didn’t even say ‘I’ll look it over,’ or ‘I know it.’ He knew it by heart, but he hadn’t practiced it in the last month or so and you don’t play Bach without practicing. The look on Hank’s face was so funny.”

The first time Bain and Laurindo worked together was on a TV movie about Abraham Lincoln. Paul Gregory, a famous television stage producer, didn’t want an orchestra or any ponderous music. Filming would move from one studio to another at different locations, and the entire production was recorded live.

“Laurindo and I were just sitting in a small room with a microphone and a monitor. We just made up the music to go with each scene. There was no composer, Gregory told us to just play what we feel. So we just played some stuff and it came out very well.”

Bain and Laurindo made several records together that were never released.

Bain also performed on many radio shows over the years, usually with a small orchestra. These included “The Jack Benny Show,” “Fibber McGee and Molly,” and the “Judy Canova Show.” He played the Canova Show for 39 weeks – every Saturday for three or four years. There would be a Saturday morning rehearsal, one show at 5 p.m. for an 8 p.m. broadcast in New York, a break, and then record the show again at 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. for the West Coast. All were done live.

Bain later became adept at writing and arranging, as well. A pianist named Junior Mance was getting ready to make his debut on Capitol. Mance, a trained musician who studied seriously for years, toured with Gene Ammons, and was a house musician at the Bee Hive, in Chicago. He later toured with Dinah Washington, The Cannonball Adderly Quintet, Dizzy Gillespie, and Joe Williams. This new recording featured some of the finest West Coast musicians, including Pete Candoli on trumpet, Vern Friley on trombone, Shelly Manne on drums, and Joe Comfort on bass. Dave Cavanaugh, a popular producer, penned the arrangements.

The tracks were reviewed by jazz critic Leonard Feather, who wrote, “The fine Hollywood studio guitarist Bob Bain lately has been earning an auxiliary reputation as a skillful writer for both singing and instrumental groups.”

In 1963, Bain and Dave Cavanaugh went to Abbey Road Studio, in London, to do arrangements for George Chakaris, a popular singer and dancer. They also met George’s friend, producer George Martin. Bain did the arrangements in a little room in the Leeds Building on Tin Pan Alley. The orchestra consisted of 16 violins, four cellos, four violas, and trombones. All woodwinds, no trumpets.

During one of the dates, George Martin asked Bain to come down the hall and check out a young group from Liverpool. So Martin, Cavanaugh, and Bain watched as a bunch of guys named John, Paul, George, and Ringo rehearsed. Martin commented that it was hard working with them, but he thought they had something – a style of their own. “We’re going to record them and see what happens,” he said.

Bain and Cavanaugh completed the album with Chakaris. Then, in early ’64, while attending a family function, they watched the ‘Ed Sullivan Show.’ There they were – The Beatles.

Bain continued his busy studio regimen, recording some of the most memorable television themes to date. The theme from ‘M.A.S.H.,’ written by Johnny Mandel and originally recorded by Bain and Howard Roberts, “Mission Impossible” (played on a Silvertone bass), “The Munsters,” “The Ozzie and Harriet Show,” and countless others.

These themes were more like anthems for a generation; who can forget the melodies? The guitar’s perfect voice calling out, pulling us away from whatever we were doing, sitting us down in front of the TV, and preparing us for the drama, suspense, or laughter to follow. Bain’s guitar did just that.

Speaking of Bain’s guitars, compared to the arsenal of instruments and equipment brought to most of today’s sessions, Bain’s covey of songbirds filled his needs quite nicely. A 1953 Telecaster (the “Gunn” guitar) did the bulk of his film work. Its distinctive tone, combined with Bain’s touch, gave personality to the characters it supported. Think about it; Peter Gunn, Herman Munster, Batman, and the Pink Panther, can you think of another tone that would work?

A Gibson ES-175 handled the jazz calls. A Yamaha 12-string and a Martin gut-string, given to him by Jack Marshall, covered everything from gritty westerns to hauntingly beautiful stories of love. He also owns a Rodriguez given to him by classical guitarist Christopher Parkening. A Silvertone bass and a 1935 Gibson L-5 were used most.

His amplifiers consisted of a Fender Twin, a Benson (which Howard Roberts gave him), and a Fender Princeton Reverb. Effects were usually no more than a fuzzbox and a wah wah pedal.

Bob continued working in the studios until 1972. When they got word “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson may come to the West Coast, all the guys who had taken that job were already working in the studios. A few of the original members were Pete Chrislieb and Tommy Newsom on tenor, Ed Shaughnessy on drums, Ross Tompkins on piano, Jimmy Zito on trumpet, and Joe DiBortolo on bass, all under the direction of Doc Severinsen.

While working on “The Tonight Show,” Bob mostly played the Gibson 175 and a Fender Telecaster. Switching became to be a problem, so Bain put a humbucker in the neck position of the Tele. This way he could use one guitar for rock or jazz, thus pioneering the Tele/humbucker combination.

“When the band would rehearse in the afternoon, no matter how long of a break we would have on the show, we would all always go across the street, and Doc would practice. He would practice until he just had time to change his clothes and start. I would say Doc practiced four or five hours every day. And if he could, he’d practice eight hours.

“When ‘The Tonight Show’ started, Tony Mottola did it in New York in 1962. At that time they had staff orchestras. They probably had three guitar players on staff at different times – Tony Mottola, Gene Bertoncini, and Jay Berliner, or perhaps in the early days, Karl Kress.”

Viewers may remember hearing, at the end of the opening theme, two signature wah-wah guitar chords.

“At that time, the wah wah pedal had just gotten popular with Shaft and the other ’60s stuff. So Tony would do that because he said when they would repeat the show, you knew if it was a rerun. And you knew if you were gonna get paid and then you didn’t have to watch the rest of the show to see if you were on it just for the hell of it. Tony told me that over the phone one time, so I continued to do it.

“There were a lot of funny things that would happen that you wouldn’t even believe,” he added. “Doc was such an ad-lib guy to start with – a funny guy, with a great sense of humor. If a guest didn’t pan out the way Johnny thought they would, he would just look at the director, Fred DeCordova, and he would give a cue to Doc for the band to play a tune.

“One day, the famous opera singer, Beverly Sills, who’d had an operation a couple of months before, was scheduled. She had done a concert in Texas and flew in that day. During rehearsal, she walked out and said to Doc, ‘I really don’t feel like rehearsing, I’m just a little tired. I think I’ll lie down and I don’t think I’ll sing today. I think I’ll just be on the panel. But if I do sing, I’ll sing “Estrellita” in the key of F and I know Bob will be able to follow me.’ And that was it. With no rehearsal, I just figured she’s not gonna sing and didn’t think anything about it. So later, she’s on the panel talking, and Johnny asks if she’s going to sing and she says ‘okay.’ And she walked over and we did the tune. She is such a marvelous singer. She knew exactly when to let you make a fill and so easy to accompany we did it and we never rehearsed it.”

Bain played with “The Tonight Show” band for 22 years. Today, he continues to write, record, and produce. Recently, he has been performing with the legendary George Van Eps, and as always, thoroughly enjoys his family and remains a humble, gentle man.

How does one survive such a vast and extremely demanding musical career? Just take a listen.

A Few of the Hundreds of Motion Pictures Bob Played On
Airport ’75
Alvarez Kelly
Baby The Rain Must Fall
Blazing Saddles
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
Bye Bye Birdie
Cape Fear (Original ’62 Version)
Cat Ballou
Cincinnati Kid
Days Of Wine And Roses
Doctor Dolittle
Dr. Zhivago
Escape From The Planet of Apes
Finians Rainbow
Gidget Goes To Rome
Hello Dolly
High Plains Drifter
How The West Was Won
Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte
In Harms Way
It’s A Mad Mad World
Lillies Of The Field
Love Story
Madame X
Magnificent Seven
Ode To Billy Joe
Omega Man
Our Man Flint
Paint Your Wagon
Play It Again Sam
Ride The Wild Surf
Rosemary’s Baby
Sand Pebbles
Silver Streak
State Fair
The Dirty Dozen
The Green Berets
The Longest Yard
The Pink Panther
The Sting II
Thomas Crown Affair
Tom Sawyer
Tora Tora Tora
Under The Yum Yum Tree
Valley Of The Dolls
Wait Until Dark
Walking Tall
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf
Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
Yes Giorgio

Some of the Hundreds of Artists Bob Recorded With
Nat King Cole…. Unforgettable”
Frank Sinatra…. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
Rosemary Clooney…. “Come On A My House”
Doris Day…. “Que Sera Sera”
Henry Mancini…. “Peter Gunn”, “Pink Panther”
Tommy Dorsey…. “Opus One”
Dave Rose…. “The Stripper”
Nelson Riddle…. “Lisbon Antigua”
Percy Faith…. “The Summer Wind”
Peggy Lee…. “What’s New”

Other Artists Include
Elvis Presley
Barbara Striesand
Tony Bennett
Perry Como
Kennny Rogers
Lou Rawls
Linda Ronstadt
Ella Fitzgerald
Quincy Jones
Sarah Vaughn
Glen Campbell
Vicki Carr
Four Freshman
Hoyt Axton
Roger Miller
Ray Charles
John Williams
Andy Williams
Sammy Davis Jr.
Doris Day
Shelly Mann
Bill Conti
Lani Hall
John Mandell
Petula Clark
Nelson Riddle
Michel Legrande
Dionne Warwick
Sam Cooke
Bobby Darin
Connie Francis
Ricky Nelson
Mamas & The Papas
Nancy Sinatra
Tom Jones
Anita Kerr

Some of the Television Shows Bob Played On
“Medical Center”
“Academy Awards”
“Happy Days”
“Incredible Hulk”
“Starsky & Hutch”
“Bob Newhart”
“Laverne & Shirley”
“Carol Burnett”
“Ozzie & Harriet”
“Bionic Woman”
“Mary Tyler Moore”
“Hart To Hart”
“Barnaby Jones”
“Charlies Angels”
“The Fugitive”
“Mission Impossible”
“Peter Gunn”
“Mr. Lucky”
“The Deputy”
“Lou Grant”
“Wonder Woman”
“Six Million Dollar Man”
“My Three Sons”
“Trapper John M.D.”
“The Munsters”
“Fantasy Island”
“Adam 12”
“Rockford Files”
“Wild Wild West”
“Adam’s Family”
“Andy Griffith”
“Beverly Hillbillies”
“Highway To Heaven”
“McMillan And Wife”
“Get Smart”
“Twilight Zone”
“Little House On The Prairie”
“Alfred Hitchcock”
“Lawrence Welk”
“Mr. Belvedere”

Jim LaDiana is a guitarist and writer/composer living in Ventura, CA. E-mail Tracy Longo, Guitar Tech Corner, Ventura, California, has been working on Bob’s guitars for the last several years and helped compile this article.

Photo courtesy of Bob Bain. Bob Bain and Lynn Murray work on a track in the studio in the 1960s. Murray, a freelance composer for Universal, RKO and MGM Studios, listed among his credits the score for Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.

This Article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. and Dec. ’97 issues.

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