Thanks to his success as the longtime conductor and arranger for Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jack Fascinato also recorded a handful of albums under his own name, one of which -- Music from a Surplus Store -- is today among the Holy Grails of space age pop collectors. Born September 11, 1915 in Bevier, MO, he was raised in nearby Hannibal, teaching music at the local high school before serving in World War II. After his discharge, Fascinato settled in Chicago, playing piano in his own jazz trio. In 1947, he was named musical director of the hit children's television series Kukla, Fran & Ollie, earning great acclaim for ambitious productions including a performance of St. George and the Dragon featuring Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops as well as annual stagings of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Mikado. When the series moved its production facilities to Los Angeles, Fascinato followed; there he began seeking out additional freelance work, and in 1952 was hired by Capitol Records to collaborate with rising country crossover star Tennessee Ernie Ford. The partnership was hugely successful, and in the years to come Fascinato arranged and conducted close to two dozen Ford LPs, scoring a number of hits including "Sixteen Tons." Fascinato's growing influence at Capitol resulted in the 1959 release of the album Palm Springs Suite, a collection of thematically linked original compositions; the follow-up, Music from a Surplus Store, integrated sound effects produced by everyday junk-shop finds. He was also a prolific composer of commercial jingles, writing several hundred prior to his death on Christmas Day, 1994.
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