Buddy Kaye

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Prolific Tin Pan Alley songwriter Buddy Kaye achieved his greatest success as a lyricist, and had a hand in writing popular standards like "'A' You're Adorable (The Alphabet Song)," "Till the End of Time,"…
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Prolific Tin Pan Alley songwriter Buddy Kaye achieved his greatest success as a lyricist, and had a hand in writing popular standards like "'A' You're Adorable (The Alphabet Song)," "Till the End of Time," "Full Moon and Empty Arms," and the theme for the TV show I Dream of Jeannie, among many others. He was born Jules Leonard Kaye on January 3, 1918, in New York, and first entered the music business as a saxophonist, playing professionally with various bands in small clubs and on cruise lines. He later moved into composition, getting his start on animated shorts like Popeye and, particularly, Little Lulu. His first success as a songwriter came with 1945's "Walkin' With My Honey," a collaboration with Sam Medoff that was recorded by Sammy Kaye. Later that year, he teamed up with composer Ted Mossman to write lyrics for a melody adapted from Chopin's Polonaise in A Flat; the result, "Till the End of Time," became crooner Perry Como's breakout hit, spending ten weeks on top of the charts and establishing the young singer's career. The classical-melody gimmick worked so nicely that Kaye and Mossman went back to the well one more time, borrowing from Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto for 1946's "Full Moon and Empty Arms," which was recorded for a hit by Frank Sinatra. Andy Russell recorded Kaye and Billy Reid's "I'll Close My Eyes" for a hit in 1947; it was later recorded by numerous other singers, and today remains most associated with Dinah Washington, thanks in part to its inclusion in the 1995 film The Bridges of Madison County. In 1948, Kaye contributed material to the Broadway revue Hilarities, and wrote the title song for the Humphrey Bogart classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The following year, his "'A' You're Adorable (The Alphabet Song)" -- written with Fred Wise and Sidney Lippman -- was a smash hit for Como with the Fontaine Sisters. Additionally, Kaye made some recordings of his own with the Buddy Kaye Quintet, scoring minor chart hits with "Thoughtless" and his own version of "'A' You're Adorable"; the former featured vocals by the Tunetimers, the latter by Artie Malvin.

Kaye was one of the few old-style pop songwriters to negotiate the transition to the rock & roll era; while he wasn't as successful as before, he did manage a surprising number of hits. He wrote the title song for the 1961 film Twist Around the Clock, and in 1962, he teamed with Ethel Lee and David Hill for the novelty song "Speedy Gonzales," which became Pat Boone's final Top Ten hit that year. He penned hits for several early U.K. rock artists, most notably Cliff Richard's ballad "The Next Time" from the 1963 film Summer Holiday, and went on to co-write (with Bea Verdi) two notable parts of Dusty Springfield's repertoire, "Little by Little" and "In the Middle of Nowhere," over 1965-1966. He co-wrote the theme song for the TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie with Hugo Montenegro in 1965, and reteamed with Montenegro for the title song to the 1967 film Hurry Sundown, which was recorded by Harry Belafonte. He also worked with Gene Lees on lyrics to the English translation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova standard "Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)." In the late '60s, Kaye teamed with Ben Weisman to contribute songs for the Elvis Presley films The Trouble With Girls and Change of Habit. During the '70s, Kaye wrote English lyrics for material by the great French songwriter Charles Aznavour, most notably 1974's "After Loving You." He also produced a reading of the children's story The Little Prince by actor Richard Burton, which won him the 1975 Grammy for Best Children's Recording. His last hurrah on the charts came in 1981, when Barry Manilow recorded his and David Pomeranz's affectionate tribute to Tin Pan Alley's heyday, "The Old Songs." In his later years, Kaye devoted himself to teaching songwriting classes and workshops around Southern California, and authored several books on the subject. He settled in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, and died there on November 21, 2002, not long after completing work on Garbo: The Musical.