Richard Hayman, award-winning orchestra arranger, conductor - The Buffalo News

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Richard Hayman, award-winning orchestra arranger, conductor

March 27, 1920 – Feb. 5, 2014

Richard Hayman, an arranger and conductor who appeared as guest conductor with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra from the 1970s to the 1990s, died Feb. 5 in a Manhattan nursing home. A resident of New York City, he was 93.

Mr. Hayman was the award-winning principal arranger for the Boston Pops Orchestra for more than 50 years under Arthur Fiedler and John Williams.

From 1976 to 2002, he also was the principal pops conductor for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where he was widely known for his harmonica solos, his sequined jackets, his imaginative arrangements and his jokes.

“He was a colorful guy, a fun personality,” Fred Bronstein, chief executive of the St. Louis Symphony, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “People came for the music, but they also came for Richard.”

He retired in 2012 as the principal pops conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan and music director of the Space Coast Pops Orchestra in Cocoa, Fla.

He was one of several conductors under consideration to succeed Mitch Miller as the Buffalo Philharmonic’s principal pops conductor in 1991. His last appearance here was in June 1999 as a last-minute substitute for Doc Severinsen in a Mexican-themed pops concert. He walked out on stage wearing a huge red and white beaded sombrero.

Born in Cambridge, Mass., Mr. Hayman was a self-taught musician who began his career as a player and arranger for the Borrah Minnevitch Harmonica Rascals, then was an arranger for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in the early 1940s. From 1945 to 1950, he was musical director for the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra.

In the 1950s, he was head of artists and repertoire for Mercury Records and had a million-selling hit in 1953 with “Ruby,” playing solo harmonica over an orchestral arrangement. He recorded more than 60 pop albums and singles with the Richard Hayman Orchestra and continued to hit the charts into the 1960s.

He also conducted orchestras and served as emcee on tours for dozens of artists, including Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John and Barbra Streisand.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Maryellen; two daughters, Suzy Hayman DeYoung and Olivia Hayman Kidney; and four grandchildren.

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