Jerry Gray, composer and former arranger for Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and other groups of the big band era, died here Tuesday. He had been musical director at the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room since it opened in April, 1969.
Jerry Gray dead at 58
Heart Attack Claims Fairmont Bandleader
Jerry Gray, 58, whose band has played in the Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel since it opened in April, 1969, died about noon Tuesday of an apparent heart attack and was pronounced dead on arrival at Presbyterian Hospital at 12:30 p.m.
Gray became a major influence in popular music during the big band era primarily as an arranger.
His first big hit was at age 19 with Artie Shaw's arrangement of "Begin the Beguine."
After the Shaw band broke up, he joined Glenn Miller in 1939 and is credited with creating the Miller sound.
Two of Miller's big greatest hits, "String of Pearls" and "Pennsylvania 6-5000" were written by Gray and he arranged such Miller standars as "The Anvil Chorus," "Moonlight Cocktails," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" and "American Patrol."
During this time, too, Gray arranged the music for the band's two movies, "Orchestra Wives" and "Sun Valley Serenade."
He spent seven years with Miller and declined an invitation from the band leader to join him on the wartime flight across the English Channel in 1944 during which Miller disappeared. For a while after, Gray headed the Miller Air Force Band.
Between his big band career and coming to the Fairmont, Gray arranged the musical scores for such motion pictures as "Pink Panther" and "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy."
With his own band he toured with Nat Cole, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Bob Hope, and played for a number of radio and TV shows.
He originally came to the Dallas Fairmont for the purpose of putting together a band and staying with it "until it got going."
Mel Torme's comments on Gray's talents are representative of the respect held in the industry for the arranger-bandleader. "Jerry is a great musical arranger and writer . . . he is certainly one of my musical heroes."
Gray was born Generoso Graziano July 3, 1918 in Boston, Mass., and was graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music.
He is survived by his wife Joan, a daughter and two sons.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Restland Memorial Park.
From the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated August 11, 1976