Ervin Drake

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Ervin Drake composed a number of varied vocal and jazz standards between the 1940s and '60s, including "Perdido" and "I Believe," as well as unofficial theme songs for two of the brightest vocalists of…
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Ervin Drake composed a number of varied vocal and jazz standards between the 1940s and '60s, including "Perdido" and "I Believe," as well as unofficial theme songs for two of the brightest vocalists of the 20th century: Frank Sinatra ("It Was a Very Good Year") and Billie Holiday ("Good Morning Heartache"). Born in New York City in 1919, Drake studied graphic art in college. His first songwriting success came with 1945's "The Rickety Rickshaw Man," recorded for a million-selling hit by Eddy Howard & His Orchestra. "Good Morning Heartache" followed one year later, to be covered by not only Holiday but Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, and Billy Eckstine. Drake also composed several numbers for Xavier Cugat during the late '40s. He worked in television for most of the '50s, on specials for Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Sinatra, and Gene Kelly. "I Believe," Drake's statement of religious conviction, sold tens of millions of copies through several recordings. During the mid-'60s, he earned his first degree in music, from Juilliard, and composed the 1966 Grammy-winning "It Was a Very Good Year" for Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio, which was later made famous via Sinatra's definitive version. Drake also served as president of the American Guild of Authors and Composers from 1973 to 1982.