Harry Simeone Biography

Harry Moses Simeone, 9 May 1911, Newark, New Jersey, USA, d. 22 February 2005, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA. An arranger, conductor and composer, Simeone studied at the Juilliard School of Music, before working for CBS Radio, where he was spotted by band leader Fred Waring. He took him onto his staff as an arranger in 1939, and from there Simeone moved to Hollywood and worked for Paramount with the legendary composer and conductor Victor Young on several Bing Crosby movies, including Here Come The Waves and the ‘Road’ series with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. In 1945 Simeone rejoined Waring and became the editor of Waring’s Shawnee Press. From 1952-59 he served as the conductor and chorale arranger for the popular weekly Firestone Hour on television.

In 1958 Simeone released the chorale album Sing We Now Of Christmas, a collection of sacred songs and carols. It also contained ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, written by Simeone with Henry Onorati and Katherine Davis. The tune was taken from the Spanish song ‘Tabolilleros’. Issued as a single, the Harry Simeone Chorale version entered the US charts each December for five consecutive years, from 1958-62. In the UK Top 20 there were additional versions by the Beverley Sisters and Michael Flanders in 1959, and in 1972 the songs was again successful in Britain in a version by the Pipes And Drums And Military Band Of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. In 1970, estimated sales from some 150 versions were in the order of 25 million. The original Sing We Now Of Christmas was retitled The Little Drummer Boy in 1963, and remained in catalogues throughout later decades.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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