Billy May

From Wind Repertory Project
Billy May


Edward William May Jr. (10 November 1916, Pittsburgh, Penn. – 22 January 2004, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) was an American composer, arranger and trumpeter.

At the age of seventeen May began playing with Gene Olsen's Polish-American Orchestra. After playing for a few local bands, May heard Charlie Barnet's band on the radio in his hometown of Pittsburgh. In the summer of 1938, he approached the bandleader and asked if he could write arrangements for the band. From 1938–40, he wrote arrangements and played trumpet for Barnet's big band. His arrangement of the Ray Noble composition Cherokee became a major hit of the swing music era. Bandleader Glenn Miller hired May away from Barnet in 1940.

May composed film and television music for The Green Hornet (1966), The Mod Squad (1968), Batman (with Batgirl theme, 1967), and Naked City (1960).

May also wrote arrangements for many top singers, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Anita O'Day, Peggy Lee, Vic Damone, Bobby Darin, Johnny Mercer, Ella Fitzgerald, Jack Jones, Bing Crosby, and The Andrews Sisters.

As a trumpet player, during the 1940s big band May recorded such songs as Measure for Measure, Long Tall Mama, and Boom Shot, with Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and The Wrong Idea, Lumby, and Wings Over Manhattan with Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra. With his own band, May had a hit single, Charmaine, in 1952, and he released several albums including Sorta-May.

Works for Winds