Composer and arranger Lyle "Spud" Murphy was best known for developing his pioneering 12-tone Equal Interval System, developed to liberate composers from the constraints of classical forms and methods. Born in Berlin on August 19, 1908, and raised from the age of four in Salt Lake City, UT, Murphy was something of a child prodigy, mastering in succession the trumpet, all members of the saxophone family, and finally the remaining woodwinds. He began his professional career at 16, and in 1933 relocated to New York City, becoming a sought-after arranger. Murphy enjoyed his greatest success in collaboration with Benny Goodman, arranging the bandleader's hits "Get Happy" and "Jingle Bells"; as the decade waned, he set out for Hollywood, writing and arranging film scores for Columbia Pictures and adapting the children's perennial "Three Blind Mice" to serve as the theme for the popular slapstick trio the Three Stooges. From 1938 to 1941, he also led his own big band.
During World War II, Murphy served with the merchant marine. After his tour of duty ended, he returned to Hollywood, enjoying his most prolific period as a composer and over the course of his long career scoring in excess of 50 films in total. His unique, self-taught writing style intrigued so many colleagues that eventually Murphy agreed to document the process on paper, leading to courses in what he dubbed the Equal Interval System. Over the years to follow he trained thousands of students and professional musicians, among them Oscar Peterson, Gerald Wiggins, and Curtis Counce (who later played bass on Murphy's space age pop LPs New Orbits in Sound and Gone with the Woodwinds!). Following surgery, Murphy died in Hollywood on August 5, 2005.