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Warren Barker

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  • Born: Oakland, CA
  • Years Active: 1950s, 1960s

Albums

Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Warren Barker was born in Oakland, CA, and attended U.C.L.A. as a music major. His primary instrument was the saxophone, and he continued his studies in composition with Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco and Henri Pensis during his early twenties and broke into the profession when he was hired by NBC as the chief arranger for the radio network's principal music showcase, The Railroad Hour. Barker was very busy during the late '50s and early '60s as an arranger and conductor of pop-instrumental music, some of which has re-emerged on CDs in recent years in various "Bachelor's Den"-theme compilations. He subsequently worked for Warner Bros., 20th Century-Fox, Columbia Pictures, and MGM as a composer, arranger, and conductor, principally for their television divisions. At the end of the 1950s, he served as musical director and conductor on the soundtrack album 77 Sunset Strip, one of the better pop-jazz releases to come out of television. Barker later contributed to the scoring, arranging, and conducting of more than 30 prime time television series, most notably (and successfully) the 1960s comedy series Bewitched. He won an Emmy Award in 1970 for his music for the offbeat James Thurber-inspired series My World and Welcome to It. His career in film has been more scattershot and interesting -- during the early '60s, he composed the music for the groundbreaking film Strange Lovers, which dealt with the then-tabu subject of homosexuality. At MGM in the mid-'60s, he also wrote the score for the low-budget movie Zebra in the Kitchen, which was marginally notable in rock circles for including a totally uncharacteristic recording by the Standells of the title song. And at Fox he was one of the arrangers who worked on the blockbuster musical Hello Dolly. He wrote song arrangements for Frank Sinatra and has also composed pieces for specific occasions, principally in the idiom of band music. He was still active at the outset of the 21st century, and his arrangements of various Broadway and film scores continue to sell.