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Bob Thiele

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Bob Thiele


Bob Thiele (27 July 1922, Sheepshead Bay, N.Y. – 30 January 1996, New York) was an American record producer who worked on countless classic jazz albums and record labels.

Thiele hosted a jazz radio show when he was 14. He also played clarinet and led a band in the New York area. At 17 he founded the Signature Records label and recorded many jazz greats, including Lester Young, Erroll Garner and, in 1943, Coleman Hawkins. Signature folded in 1948 and he joined Decca Records in 1952, running its Coral Records subsidiary. His wife was the singer Teresa Brewer, whom he met and produced while working for Decca Records in the 1950s.

He took over as head of Impulse! Records from 1961-69 after founder Creed Taylor went to run Verve Records. Thiele's best known association while at Impulse! was with John Coltrane, but he also recorded such artists as Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Archie Shepp, and Albert Ayler among others. His most successful hit song was with Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World, which he co-wrote with George David Weiss.

In the late 1960s Thiele was often brought in to produce artists on the company's Bluesway Records label. He produced the albums that graduated blues giant B.B. King toward the mainstream, including Lucille (1967), Live and Well (1968), and 'Completely Well (1969), the last biggest seller of King's career to that point.

Thiele later formed his own record label, Flying Dutchman Records, which is now part of Sony Music Entertainment. Later in his career Thiele formed Red Baron Records, which released a number of albums on compact disc, including three by the Bob Thiele Collective, each a different "all-star" group which Thiele himself assembled and produced. In 1995 he released a memoir titled What a Wonderful World.

Thiele remained active in the music business until the end, including the co-writing of the song You, which was recorded by Bonnie Raitt and appeared on her 1994 album Longing in Their Hearts.

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