Sunday, January 25, 2009

Peter Gunn

Peter Gunn was a television program from 1958 through 1961. A total of 114 thirty-minute episodes were produced. Gunn was a private eye (private investigator).

The main character Peter Gunn was played by Craig Stevens (1918 - 2000). Gunn was different than the other television detectives on television during that period because he was "hip" and a smart dresser who loved "cool jazz." He operated in a city on a waterfront some place and was a regular patron of a club on the wharf called "Mother's."

The soundtrack of the show used modern jazz music. Most television shows at that time did not. Henry Mancini composed and performed the opening and closing "Peter Gunn Theme." The soundtrack album by Henry Mancini reached Number One in Billboard's Pop LP Charts.

Some of the song titles are Peter Gunn, Sorta Blue, The Brothers Go to Mother's, A Profound Gas, Walkin' Bass, and The Floater. "The Floater" is one of my favorites.

The song "Peter Gunn" was a hit and was soon being played by junior and senior high school bands in the early 1960s. I was in junior high school at the time. Henry Mancini was a star and traveling around the country. We went to hear him perform at Eastern Washington State College (now a university) in Cheney. He used local musicians from EWSC and other colleges. After the show, we went back stage and shook his hand and talked to him for a couple of minutes. It was "real cool."

Henry Mancini (1924 - 1994) studied at Julliard School of Music in New York before he was drafted in the Army in 1943. After discharge he became pianist and arranger for the newly re-formed Glenn Miller Orchestra led by Tex Beneke. Mancini wrote the sound tracks for more than 100 movies, recorded over 90 albums, and wrote for just as many television shows.

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