OJAI, CA (CelebrityAccess) — Johnny Mandel, a Grammy award-winning composer, arranger and film-scorer, died on Monday at his home in Ojai, California. He was 94.
His passing was announced by his longtime performance rights organization ASCAP on Monday.
“Giant. Genius. Gentleman. There are many ways to describe the legendary composer Johnny Mandel. His incredible music spanned decades, mediums, oceans and firmly established him in the American Songbook canon. I had the great honor of witnessing his unique gifts personally when we co-wrote a song ‘Close Enough for Love.’ I cherish that experience. Johnny proudly served his fellow music creators on the ASCAP Board for many years and his work paved the way for future generations of songwriters and composers to pursue a life in music as he had. He was a true jazz spirit and that spirit will live on in his music and in our hearts for eternity,” said ASCAP’s President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams.
Mandel is best known for his work on The Sandpiper, which won him a Grammy for the song “The Shadow of Your Smile” and for the song “Suicide Is Painless,” which served as the theme song for the long-running hit television comedy M.A.S.H.
He also wrote numerous other songs that have gone on to become standards, including “Emily,” “Close Enough for Love,” “A Time for Love.”
As an arranger, he worked with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett, Jo Stafford, Shirley Horn and Natalie Cole.
“I started writing arrangements early, before I studied at all,” Mandel told ASCAP in a 2019 interview. “I’d just hear something – four trumpets, or four trombones, and I’d say ‘Okay, is that it? That’s it.’ I’d write that down, that cluster, so that I’d know how it was voiced as I wanted to go forward. It was a ‘hunt and peck’ kind of thing…I’d screw around for a long time to see what made that sound.
“It’s a lot of hard work figuring out what it looks like on a keyboard, because I wasn’t piano player…I was amazed that a lot of the guys that did what I did – which was write for big bands – weren’t originally piano players…You’re anchored by your technique, or lack of it. If you want to imitate what it sounds like in the brass section, I just have to figure that out and write it.”
Mandel is predeceased by his wife, Martha, and survived by his daughter, Marissa Mandel and her wife, Lauren Johnson.
A cause of death for Mandel was not disclosed.