Gary James' Interview With
Henry Mancini

In all of popular music, Henry Mancini is without a doubt one of the all time greats. As the songwriter of "Moon River", "Days of Wine and Roses", "Peter Gunn", and "The Pink Panther" theme song, Henry Mancini has achieved legendary status. He is the winner of 3 Academy Awards, 20 Grammy Awards, and holds 6 Gold Album Awards. His concerts took him all over the world and are always SRO. At one time or another, Henryís audience has included the Queen, the President of the United States, and various heads of state.

Q - How did you get accepted into the Music Department of Universal back in 1952?

A - I went in with a vocal group. I used to do arrangements for a vocal group my wife was with called The Mellowmarks. They used to do one reel shorts at Universal at the time. All the big bands that came through would go in there and that would be part of their thing. They would do a one reel short and play some numbers and then have a vocal group and then have a variety act or something. I just went in there doing the arrangements for the group and they liked what I did. There was an opening for someone who could do that kind of thing. So, I went in and did that plus everything else they had.

Q - How do you score music for a film you've never seen? Do you see the daily rushes?

A - No. I never see rushes. I wait until it's all finished. Then I sit down and see it. Usually once I decide to do it, they'll make a video cassette for me and I have a setup in my house where I can just put the cassette on and look at it, at my own place, and I don't have to go near the studio again.

Q - Do you ever write something for the fun of it?

A - No. I have to have a reason. I donít have time to sit down and write for the so called Ďfun of ití. I mean, I write on assignment for the fun of it. I just have too many things to do and one assignment goes into another one. I have done very few things that havenít been for a purpose of one sort or another.

Q - How do you avoid being bothered when you compose in the den of your home?

A - Weíve just finished building a house, thatís off on itís own, so, Iím not bothered as much as I used to be.

Q - What do you do when someone writes and asks you for advice?

A - I must confess that when somebody writes and wants to get into a Pen Pal type of thing, I just canít do it. If I can, I answer. If they get into too much detail, I donít have the time to answer it.

Q - What projects are you currently working on?

A - Iíve got 2 pictures coming out this summer. One is SOB, thatís a Blake Edwards picture with Julie Andrews, Larry Hagman, Robert Preston and a whole bunch of other people. The other picture is my first experience with a Disney picture and itíll be called Condor Man.

Q - Do you see or hear anything new in todayís music?

A - No, not really. On the Pop scene, nothing that is really exceptional. Nothing has hit like Elton John did. I donít really see anything that spectacular.

Q - I see films like Thief with James Caan are using Tangerine Dream's music as the soundtrack, or the Flash Gordon film is using Queen's music. Do you see that as a trend?

A - No. I see in addition to that, a lot of new writers coming in, like the one that did Dressed to Kill and of course George Corgliono did Altered States. These are new names. So, I just think there's new people and there's enough to absorb any new kind of thing. I don't see any kind of trend. I don't think Fame was an especially traditional score. It was just actually a string of songs. So that's been with us for awhile.

Q - Now, after getting a haircut, you just happened to bump into Blake Edwards. What would've happened to you if that little incident had never occurred? That was a fateful meeting was it not?

A - I couldnít answer that. I was in a position with a good amount of experience behind me and I think I eventually would have gotten into something else, I mean as far as music goes, in a different direction with different people. I canít even speculate, but I know I would be doing the same thing.

Q - Isn't it odd that being in the right place at the right time is still more important than all of the education and experience in the world.

A - Yeah. Right, exactly.

Q - What do you do to relax?

A - Well, we have a place in Vail, Colorado. I like to ski. I have an art collection. I'm very much interested in wines. I read all I can on that and just travel too is quite a relaxer for me, to concerts, you know.

Q - How many concerts do you do each year?

A - I think about 3 months worth.

Q - All over the world?

A - Wherever it goes, yeah.

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