The Sorcerer's Apprentice  Jack Nitzsche's Home Page  Magical Musical World!
The Jack I Knew....Folk who worked and/or played with Jack Nitzsche share their memories.
Back to top  Dan Bourgoise Getting it Published

Dan Bourgoise and Jack Nitzsche

Dan Bourgoise started his music publishing company in 1975; Jack Nitzsche was one of his first clients. Twenty-five years later when Jack discovered a new musical talent he was excited about, he took him to Dan.
This speaks volumes for Dan, his company and his personal relationship with Jack.
Thanks for taking the time.

Bug Logo

I love the site, particularly enjoyed the discography. Amazing how much he has been involved in! I sat down with Jack in 1975 and put one together that I could use as a tool to promote his music. He would call every day and add a few more things that he had forgotten. But this one is the best!

Greg Shaw and Ken Barnes are good friends of mine and I persuaded Jack, along with Denny's help, to let them do the Bomp story/interview. Bug represented Bomp Publishing for Greg and whenever I needed a new bio for Del Shannon, I always used Ken. We all worked together in the early 70's at United Artists Records.

As to Castin' My Spell, Jack called me out of the blue one day and told me he had just cut some fantastic stuff with CC Adcock. Jack wanted to bring CC by my office and play the stuff for me. They both came by and blew me away with the tracks they had cut. Jack told CC that he should sign with Bug, so he did. They were really a great team together.

Thanks for a great site and tribute to Jack. I miss him.

Dan Bourgoise

Back to top  Carol Connors Beauty and the Beast

Carol Connors now.

Carol Connors, lead singer of the Teddy Bears, a very successful writer (she co-wrote "Hey Little Cobra" for The Rip Chords among many others) and performer (you MUST hear her vocal on the co-composed "My Baby Looks But He Don't Touch") had a quiet time during the late sixties until her co-written "Theme From 'Rocky'", "Gonna Fly Now" achieved massive sales with plaudits that placed her firmly in the "grade-A list" for film and TV work.
Interviewed by Stephen J. McParland, (available on "Sound Waves And Traction - Vol.1") Carol tells of this quiet time, "I could have stood naked on the corner of Hollywood and Vine and nobody would have taken any notice." Sorry CC but I can't believe this for a minute!
I'm indebted to CC for granting this interview with the site's good friend, 'Country' Paul Payton. Paul's complete interview is available at Spectropop presents - "To Know Her Is To Love Her".
It is also essential to visit Carol Connors' own site and see what she is currently up to:

Carol Connors Homepage

I worked with Jack Nitzsche on "Heroes," the film I wrote a song for it, "You Are My Tomorrows Today". I have the lead sheet here: "Music by Jack Nitzsche, lyric by Carol Connors."

He was always very unique, very sensitive, very "out there," very "off the wall." Maybe that's why he got along with Phil [Spector] so well, because Phil was "the wall of sound." I always thought [Jack] was very progressive with his music, his approach to arrangements and what he did. He was very good friends with Phil. Believe it or not, I don't remember working with him on things that I did, but I knew him and would see him around, and had great respect for him. He was always to me like a Stravinsky, and I was more into a Chopin. I'm very into the romantic period of music, and I always found that Jack was a little over-the-top for me. I'm not saying that his arrangements were not brilliant.

Jack and Phil, I think were like a Body Glove, the wetsuit I use [for diving]. They were a perfect match. Jack somehow was able to totally get into Phil's mind, and Jack knew exactly what Phil wanted. When I do a film or a TV thing, my whole theory is as a songwriter, not an arranger, I have to get into the mind of a producer or director, because he doesn't know what he's talking about [musically, although] he knows what he wants. Phil did know what he was talking about, so I think it made Jack's life easier, and he was able to come up with these very Stravinsky-like progressive sounds that worked on a contemporary basis.

He was not a real social animal, quiet, introspective, like a...I don't want to say a "mad genius," that's not the word I'm looking for, but on the level of Phil. They must have been like two peas in a pod. I wasn't there, but I'd love to have been a fly on the wall at some of their conversations, because I think they were able to communicate with each other. I found him to be always respectful, always quiet, not nerdy-looking but sort of unusual-looking. Mainly quiet, that's my recollection.

Jack was a wonderful.. I think if he had not been into pop music or rock and roll, he would have been a modern-day Stravinsky. I think that's where his roots were, really based in classical music.

That's where Jack was at; that's why I think that Phil and Jack got along so well. They had a wonderful relationship musically. And it's funny, years later, I was brought into the Henry Winkler film "Heroes", and there was Jack Nitzsche! It was like a long-lost friend. But by then I'd [also] come into my own, it wasn't like just the girl who sang "To Know Him Is To Love Him" I [was] an Academy Award songwriter, David Janssen's girlfriend, and more.


(Carol Connors interview conducted by 'Country' Paul Payton)

(Besides the aforementioned Carol Connors and Jack Nitzsche colabaration, "Theme from 'Heroes'", "You Are My Tomorrows Today", Stephen McParland reveals in his book, "Sound Waves And Traction - Surf Groups Of The '60s - Vol.1" that the music to Carol's two Era 45's was also arranged by Jack.)

Back to top  Alan Gordon Me About Jack.

Alley without his Soul Sneekers Picture supplied by Karl Baker

I'd guess Alan's first introduction to Jack would have been when they were both working for the production team of Charles Koppelman and Don Rubin. Alan had a string of hits written by him and Garry Bonner, often arranged or produced by Jack.
Artists who benefited from their talents include The Turtles, Gary Lewis/Playboys, Petula Clark, and Bobby Darin with one of my favourite records, "She Knows".
Thanks Alan, for taking the time to write.

I have had some big thrills in my career, but one of the biggest was working with Jack. I will tell you this, with all my many career high lights my respect and Joy and Love for Jack has got to be right at the top. He had such a twinkle, rascalian look in his eyes whenever he was getting to that special creative place I just wanted to HUG him. Feelings are after all what rock n roll is all about.

He was a gifted, special and wonderful man. He arranged many of my song's and produced an album I did called Alley and the Soul Sneekers. When he was producing my album for Capitol he brought Robert Downey, Sr. to my home in the Hollywood Hills. There in my living room sat the great Jack Nitzsche and the cult hero film director. Well Robert liked the things he heard and suggested that instead of calling myself Alan Gordon I should change my name to Hamilton Beech and call the album "Rock And Roll"...and yes, he thought we should put a big rock and a roll on the cover. Knowing how fast the album would fade, in hindsight I should have listened to him!

Jack and I wrote "No One Knows Better Than You", the theme song for the movie "When You Comin Back Red Ryder". We worked at his place. He was with Carrie Snodgress, a terrific Lady. Jack got Tammy Wynette and Freddy Fender to sing the record. Everyone wanted to work with Jack.

With all the famous and talented "Star's" I have come across in my career NONE has given me a bigger thrill than knowing and working with Jack. I think he understood my love for him, and I'd like to think he thought I was a gifted person myself but after all we are fans first. Fan's of the music and of course fan's of those who created the music.

Jack would be very very pleased with your devoted work, as a matter of fact I can see him smiling in heaven right now. I miss him dearly!

Jack's work will endure as long as people have ears!

Alan Gordon

Back to top  Eric Harry Cutting it with Jack Nitzsche

Eric Harry


Eric Harry Music logo

Now a successful musician working primarily in the field of TV and radio Eric Harry's first break came when he sent a cassette tape to Jack Nitzsche. Just out of college and keen to make his living in music Eric created the tape using a variety of glass instruments. Jack Nitzsche, always searching for new musical forms to express the sounds racing through his head, delighted in the wine glasses he'd used for "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" but realised their limitations. Not hard to imagine the speed of his response upon receiving Eric Harry's tape.

Jack's letter (quoted in Eric's piece) expressed his eagerness to put the instruments heard on Eric's tape to use. Soon after Jack was commissioned to score "Cutter's Way" and Jack, his assistant Leslie Morris and manager Bob Brown were locked in negotiations with Eric over other musicians to use.

Understandably despite all he's achieved since, Eric has warm memories of the "Cutter's Way" sessions and Jack Nitzsche in particular. Michael Kemp's has written a review of the music from "Cutter's Way" on Jack Nitzsche's Movie Reviews. Checkout Eric's article, complete with photos from the session by clicking below.

Back to top  Eddie Hodges Fond Memories

Eddie Hodges

Thanks to Eddie Hodges for writing. I'm a big fan of Eddie and Jack's many recordings together. Use the 'Search' box on the Home page for many mentions of their work together.

Also check out part 3 of the Terry Melcher pages for more from Eddie on working with Jack and Terry.

(Very cool to read that Eddie's father managed Danny and the Memories. They released a super vocal-group 45rpm on Valiant before a change of name and direction to become the rock group Crazy Horse. Read more about them on the Record Reviews page.)

Jack arranged numerous recordings that I released. He was a genius who always had a smile on his face and an up-beat attitude. He didn't have to be as nice to me as he was, but went out of his way to do just that. But he was nice to everybody. Our sessions were always happy experiences. Sure, he had a tight focus on the project at hand, but he was supportive and inspiring all the time. He made sure every note was played correctly, the tempo was always right on and the musicians were motivated to play their best. I commented on the outfits Jack wore - he was usually in step with the latest hip designs for men. He told me the best places to shop for the hippest mod wear. He was a joy to be around and I often asked for him to arrange and conduct whenever I recorded a new release - I knew he would do a fantastic job every time.

My father managed Danny and the Memories at one time and I always enjoyed being around them. It was great to watch them transform into a real rock group after one of my sessions that Jack did. It was a magical time in the music business. The recording sessions were hard work but always fun when Jack was the arranger, with Hal Blaine, Glen Campbell, Leon Russell and so many others who always seemed to play on every session.

Jack's loss left a gaping hole in the industry and in the hearts of all of us who knew him. I was just a kid at the time, but his genius was more than apparent to me. He is a rock music legend.

I have really enjoyed this website. Thanks for your great work in helping remind us of his enormous contribution to music recording.

Eddie Hodges

Back to top  Leslie Knauer Fulfilling her Promises, a guitar playing Kanary.

Leslie Knauer Photo Heather Harris

In regards producing Promises, Jack Nitzsche said in his interview with Sylvie Simmons, "Leslie, the lead singer, is real good and she should have a great album. She should also be with a better company than Capitol."
Leslie Knauer doesn't say but Promises had two chart records in 1979, "Baby It's You" and "Let's Get Back Together". The former in particular is fondly remembered in three continents.
On leaving Capitol, Leslie soon joined all girl group, Precious Metal they toured extensively and released 3 albums. Having added lead guitar to her song writing and vocalising talents she's now formed Kanary.
Leslie interrupted the recording of Kanary's third LP for these phone interviews, if this and their live gigs are half as exciting as Leslie's personality they are not to be missed!

Kanary Homepage

A friend found me a place to crash at Quad Teck recording studio. Steve Verocca was attempting to get a vocal from this girl singer but it wasn't happening. When she left he asked if I'd like to have a go. He liked it and wanted me to sign. Not without my brothers I wouldn't! Jeddy the eldest and Benny my kid brother were touring in Prince Rupert, Canada, near Alaska, the two white guys in the group, Good Foot. Dubbing ourselves "Promises" we wrote our own songs. The sessions went well, Steve was cool at first but a chronic liar and asshole later but I loved working with my brothers. The album did pretty well we got to tour Europe it was fun. Once back in LA, the label wanted a new LP but didn't want to change producers. It ended up with Steve remixing out-takes from the first sessions it was a mess. Steve was a shit, and we walked. The label still released the second album. How it sold I don't know we received no money from it. We told all our fans at gigs, "Don't buy it, it sucks! In hindsight, not a great career move.

EAR EMI (Holland) folded and we signed to Capitol. Jack Nitzsche was to be our producer. He was cool, from the moment we met, no 'how great I am' just a regular guy. I thought he was awesome. When he heard the fights I'd had with Steve Verroca that was it, best buddies. I could talk shit over with Jack he cared; it was just 'nice'. He was working, I guess to him another job but he had time for a kind word if I felt bad. If things weren't going well in the studio or at home I just felt with Jack that he'd be in my corner. His wife Gracia hung out in the studio most days, Gracia was really sweet and Jack Jr. who was starting work in films, as a gripper I think, came down too. I brought my new daughter to the recordings, Jack said, "Only you or Tina Turner could bring a new baby to work!"

He was cool but they were not happy sessions the vibes weren't good. Jack was having problems at home and so was I. My younger brother wanted his girl friend in the band to play bass, Jack said she wasn't good enough, my brother walked. Benny, Jed and I wrote the songs and it felt weird without Benny there. Jack 'heard' many of the songs differently to how we did, they all seemed to have a bloody synthesizer on em'! I hate the synthesizer and have never used it since! All problems, none of us were focused on the LP. There was one song we recorded early on, I forget the title, and it was working. Jack was sooo excited. We had a cool chugging groove going, the whole room seemed to be smiling. He had the synth sweeping in and out with this weird noise and this time it sounded good. We did get 10 or 12 tracks on tape, but they were never released. Rupert Perry recorded some tracks later with just me on vocals but I didn't want a solo career, liking the camaraderie of a 'band' and didn't much like Rupert! So ended our Capitol association and the band.

A PS to the story. After Promises collapsed I joined Precious Metal and one of the co-producers on our third album was a good guy called, Phil Kaffel. One of his first gigs as a 17yr. old had been as 2nd engineer on "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest". Jack liked the way he worked and Phil was soon promoted to main engineer on the films soundtrack.

Leslie Knauer

Back to top  Carol Kaye Queen of the Bass

Carol on guitar

When I first became a member of Spectropop I was particularly pleased to see Carol's name signed at the bottom of many messages.
She played on so many tremendous records and I was impressed that she was willing to spend some of her time discussing often obscure 60s 'should have been hits'.
My request for Carol to share any memories of Jack, was, as I expected, agreed to. I had no right to expect her to go to such lengths and I'm very grateful.
Thanks Carol.
Carol Kaye has her own web site, with an incredible list of folk with whom she has worked, as well as guitar playing techniques, tips and a very active forum.
Well worth a visit:

Carol Kaye Homepage

Jack was a good cat - he quickly caught on about arranging etc. from HB, I enjoyed working with Gracia too. Jack from what I know was a faithful man to his wife....and I was surprised and sad when they broke up later on.
Jack Nitzsche, really got his start being the copyist and sometimes secretary (or "go-fer" I guess you'd say) for producer/arranger H.B. Barnum.... Gracia was the backup studio singer HB would use too....he hired many of us studio musicians, our younger bunch in 1958-59....And I think he got his arranging chops together by doing the last-minute copying H.B. (a fine arranger btw in all styles of music) was high-pressure for all the demos and record dates we were doing back then (pre-Spector dates).
They needed the finest of musicians to make those very usually ordinary singers and sometimes very ordinary songs swing, they needed the frameworks for the songs we could instantly do.It was rare for arrangers in the early 60s to do creative rock arrangements, if there were any arrangements at all.
Jack seemed to know what he was doing, he was a good guy, we all enjoyed working for him. Sometimes he had some novel ideas. It wasn't the studio musicians' criteria to judge worked with no pre-conceived notions or judgements about any kind of music or arrangers, etc. but I think Jack was especially liked by us all. He was sharp, seemed to appreciate our talents, and respected us as musicians and good people....he was excited about becoming an arranger and working some good dates, he never was arrogant from what I remember.
The Phil Spector dates were highly-arranged by Jack Nitzsche. Phil depended upon his arranger and input from the musicians a lot more than say Brian Wilson who was more in charge as a composer/arranger. Phil had some definite good musical ideas and Jack was always there but I doubt he had much to do with Phil's sounds at all. Arrangers just arrange the music and count the band off, acting as musical conductor, that's their gig...they're not producers...Phil was a producer and as such got the sounds he wanted.
Most of the producers and arrangers were wonderful professional people, and Jack was the same.
I do remember teasing Jack about one line that he had written and wanted me to play on guitar."Jack, that 4th doesn't belong in that chord, it won't sound good" and Jack, smiling replied "Carol just play it anyway, it'll be OK"...and that was the Needles and Pins guitar line. Sometimes he would be writing his arrangements at the last minute....he could write some good arrangements but mostly, the arrangers counted on the studio musicians. He and others just wrote chords on arrangements and maybe an indication of a break fill or something, we never saw any music until we all got on the record date, but....we did bring pencils to mark down our ideas and/or any changes in the music....that was a MUST, that and a good parking place so you wouldn't be late (you were usually rushing in from another recording date 1/2 a mile away or so). The arrangers wrote more and more as the 60s moved along but they always heard what WE CREATED on the spot on the record date. Jack was creative also and got his ideas (like the rest of the arrangers) a lot from US, and being around us, hearing our ideas etc......he was very professional and strong in his unusual ideas (and they usually worked well), no problem. You're there to get the job done, there was NO petty crap to deal with at all with anyone, this was a very important business, lots of money riding on everything.
Funny thing....Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, studio musicians then, etc, were unhappy with the extra demands of sightreading music and so opted to become stars, and then we all worked for them.....some irony there, hahaha but shows you the kinds of talent that were recording those 60s hits.
I liked Jack a LOT, tho't he was very talented and had some unusual ideas, and conducted his dates very professionally and we all could rib each other too, he had a good sense of humor, still looked like a history teacher back in the 60s....was very fresh on the rock recording
Not sure which of his projects I worked on, did a TON of dates for Jack in the 60s. He was great to work for, very nice - respectful and truly was appreciative of his studio musicians.
Jack was a little bit of a loner, but hey, most arrangers and composers's their job to get the job done, making sure the producer got what they wanted, listen to the studio musicians (very seasoned, greatest players to be had) if they had ideas or if something was wrong with the music, and be pleasant and courteous, he was all of that, even tho' he was young.....he was totally professional.
I've heard some odd stories about him much later, when I had heard he had gotten into drugs...but one day I did see him (about 1977) in an elevator at Centuray City and it was like 15 years before that...our relationship was the same and it was great to see him, exchange some chitchat and history and he was the same Jack I knew way back when, we had a lot of fun chatting about stuff.....wish you could have seen the Jack I knew and cared a lot for....a lovely guy...whatever happened with all the later stories, I don't know, but it is lonely when you're successful in the music biz, think some of this happened to Phil Spector too, they got to be hermits to stay away from people-users and weirdos.....
What a career he had - I was so proud and happy for him for his score on that movie The Cuckoo's Nest and other great things he scored and arranged.
God rest Jack Nitzsche

Carol Kaye

Back to top  Frankie Laine Working at CBS

Frankie Laine

Thanks to Frankie Laine for his comments.

Frankie Laine's Web Site

I never really got to know Jack Nitzsche very well.
However, he was a great arranger!
Barry Mann with Cynthia Weil wrote "Don't Make My Baby Blue" - he started writing it because of "Jezebel" - it turned out great but it was almost my last disc for CBS as the contract ended. "I'm Gonna Be Strong" was my final session at CBS - it didn't do much - I don't recall much else.
God bless,

Frankie Laine

Back to top  Bob Lind Remembering Jack Nitzsche

Bob Lind's, "Elusive Butterfly" is one of those records that define a time and place. Hardly anyone, young or old who came within earshot of a radio speaker in the mid-sixties or even today is unaware or has been untouched by this recording. For Bob it brought possibly unwelcome instant fame but the 'freedom' to have his thoughts and feelings publicly expressed. For Jack Nitzsche also it was a defining record. Much to his chagrin he was not credited as the producer on the 45 but this was amended on the forth coming LP and more importantly the music biz insiders knew. He had produced many records previously but this release confirmed he was not 'just' an arranger of the musical visions of others.

Musically Bob's been quiet of late but all this is about to change. He's resumed touring, added saxophone to his guitar playing, has his own website and a new album. The songs can be sampled before buying; the lyrics are also online along with a message board for all those questions that have been bothering you over the years! Check it out,

I've been hoping for a contribution to the site from Bob Lind for some while. His article, follow the link below, is much appreciated, as is his honesty in telling the story as he remembers. Rather than a rosy, airbrushed view of events that happened almost 20 years ago we are presented with a compellingly human story of generosity, hope, insecurity and possibly resentment.

Back to top  Jimmy McDonough JACK NITZSCHE 1937-2000

Jimmy McDonough

Jimmy McDonough was a long time friend to the normally reclusive Jack Nitzsche. He is a man who Jack had enough confidence in to tell his life story to. I'm grateful to Mr. McDonough for taking the time to search his files for this obituary, "written in haste the day after he (Jack Nitzsche) died".

MOJO - Jimmy McDonough

This piece originally appeared in the UK music magazine MOJO, in an edited form. It's published here for the first time in its entirety.

MOJO - Jimmy McDonough

Jimmy McDonough, to quote the brief biography from the dust jacket of his latest book 'SHAKEY - Neil Young's Biography', "is a journalist who has contributed to such publications as Varity, Film Comment, Mojo, Spin and Juggs. But he is perhaps best known for his intense, definitive Village Voice profiles of such artists as Jimmy Scott, Neil Young and Hubert Selby, Jr. He is also the author of 'The Ghastly One:The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Film Maker Andy Milligan'".

Denny Bruce said, "Jack is the star of 'Shakey' the Neil Young book", but to be honest, Jack's stories are among a wealth of first-hand experiences related on the pages of this marvellous book. Anyone with an interest in this site will love it, tell your friends! The book is now in it's 5th printing and due to be published in paperback next year.

In an interview given to his UK publishers Random House he talks of his possible new book on Jack Nitzsche. "For a long time I have been working on the autobiography of producer Jack Nitzsche, who not only is a big part of Shakey, but an unsung legend who worked with everybody from the Rolling Stones to Tammy Wynette. Jack put his entire existence on tape for me before he died, and he had an uncanny recall for the sad details of life - you could say he's the rock 'n' roll Proust". Fingers crossed on the book being completed and published.

A few months ago this news reached me whispered from an unnamed source in the lonely Amboy cornfields:
"The word from the creepy inbred cornfields of Amboy is that Jimmy McDonough has been locked in his ancient farmhouse refusing all calls and callers. Living on a diet of Jack's sixties 45s and crumpets, he's hell bent on turning the hundreds of hours of taped conversations with Jack Nitzsche into the definitive autobiography".
Since then however he has been spotted in the barren terrains of California, Alabama and Indiana plying his craft as writer and chronically of our times. Foraging for physical and mental sustenance to maintain his lonely candlelit vigils working on Jack's opus.

Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Phil Spector, Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Bobby Darin, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, John Lee Hooker, Tammy Wynette, James Brown, Captain Beefheart, Jackie DeShannon, Sean Penn, The Germs, Willy DeVille, Buffy Sainte-Marie, William Friedkin, Paul Schrader, Doris Day, Ricky Nelson, Ike & Tina Turner, Marianne Faithfull, The Monkees, The Neville Brothers, Graham Parker, Sonny & Cher, Randy Newman. Jack Nitzsche worked with them all. It's hard to name another person that was involved in creating in so much music history. Whether it was pop, new wave, punk, folk, rock, R & B, or movie soundtracks, Nitzsche was there. The otherworldly hits he arranged for Spector. His eerie string work for Neil Young and others. The two-fisted piano playing for the Stones. His soundtracks, among the most original and unusual in Hollywood history.

"Jack's one of the modern-day masters", Young told Gavin."His creations are on par with Mozart and the composers of the Renaissance".

Bernard Alfred "Jack" Nitzsche was born on April 22, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois, but was raised on a farm outside of Newaygo, Michigan. In 1955 he moved to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a jazz saxophonist, but quit music school after deciding he wasn't good enough. Nitzsche wandered into Specialty Records, where then-A&R man Sonny Bono hired him as a copyist ."Sonny got me my first real job in the music business", said Nitzsche. "We both loved black music". A stint at Capitol Records was most notable for Jack's introduction to aspiring singer Gracia Ann May, his first wife and the woman Nitzsche would credit most for guiding his life and career."Gracia encouraged me to forget about getting a job and really go for the music. To just do what I wanted to do, and she would bring in the income". Son Jack Jr. was born in 1960.

Various jobs in the record industry led to arrangement work for Phil Spector, beginning in 1962 with The Crystals immortal "He's a Rebel", and straight on through to Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep - Mountain High" in 1966. What records: "Be My Baby", "Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah'', "Then He Kissed Me'', "Baby I Love You"."Phil and I saw totally eye to eye - on everything. Thats what made our combination perfect".

First encountering the Rolling Stones at a 1964 session for Hale and the Hushabyes, Nitzsche contributed keyboards to such sixties Stones classics as "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadows?", "Play With Fire" and "Paint It Black", as well as the choral arrangements for "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Throughout the sixties Nitzsche did production work with a slew of artists, including Bob Lind, P. J. Proby and one of his favorite female vocalists, Jackie DeShannon. He also wrote (with a little help from Sonny Bono) the classic "Needles and Pins", a 1964 hit for The Searchers which was later covered by The Ramones.

Nitzsche's odd solo career began with the majestic 1963 instrumental "The Lonely Surfer", the title cut of his first solo album for Reprise. He walked out of the sessions for a ludicrous, label-instigated follow-up Dance to the Hits of The Beatles. Nitzsche released an album of original orchestral pieces', "St. Giles Cripplegate", in 1973.

The work for Neil Young began with "Expecting to Fly", a 1967 Buffalo Springfield track that was one Jack's favorite records. Nitzsche contributed to Young songs throughout the years, most notably the 1972 Harvest track "A Man Needs a Maid" (recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra) and "Such a Woman", from Young's 1992 "Harvest Moon". Jack was also a sometime member of Crazy Horse, contributing keyboards and his first recorded vocal, "Crow Jane Lady", to their 1971 debut. He played piano on Young's 1973 live album, "Time Fades Away".

His motion picture work began with largely overseeing the musical end of the1964 TAMI Show, then scoring the 1965 no-budgeter 'Village of the Giants'. 1970 brought Performance, inarguably one of the most original and influential scores of all time. Nitzsche did Robert Downey Sr'.s 1972 picture 'Greaser's Palace', contributed music to William Friedkin's The Exorcist in 1973, and was nominated for an Oscar for his glass harp/musical saw score for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in 1975. He did two pictures for Paul Schrader, Blue Collar in 1978 and Hardcore in 1979. Nitzsche received the Best Original Song Oscar for co-writing (along with Buffy Sainte-Marie, whom he married that year) 'Up Where We Belong', which was featured in 'An Officer And A Gentleman', 1982.

Nitzsche took soundtrack work seriously, and never felt he got the credit he deserved for his."So many of these composers now take eight films at once, use ghost writers, a lot of orchestrators. I've never done that - I've always done my own orchestration. Because I think it's part of composition. Thats what composition is - it isn't just writing a melody line, it's writing the whole thing".

1980 saw a punk/new wave score for Friedkin's Cruising. Jack produced Graham Parker, and did three albums with longtime friend and cohort Willy DeVille, starting with 1977's "Cabretta". "We hit it off right away", said Jack."Willy pulled out his record collection, he started playin' things, that was it. I thought, Holy shit! This guys got taste!" Nitzsche was particularly proud of the DeVille track "Cadillac Walk".

The soundtrack work continued with Cutter's Way in 1981, plus a few scores for director John Byrum, including The Razor's Edge in 1984. An unusual electronic score was featured in 1984's Starman, and a haunting 1990 soundtrack for Revenge was among Jack's favorites. Nitzsche's evocative pairing of Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker was central to Dennis Hopper's 1991 picture The Hot Spot.

The nineties brought two pictures for Sean Penn, 1991's 'The Indian Runner' and 'The Crossing Guard' in 1995. Nitzsche's last studio work (as yet unreleased) was with Louisiana rocker Charles 'C C' Adcock.


Melancholy, bittersweet, ghostly - these are words that come to mind when I think of Jack's sound. But that doesn't quite cut it. It was just Jack Nitzsche music, and once you heard it, you were never the same. If Jack's name was on a record, you could count on something moving, something unique. And it was probably something you'd never heard before.

"I do a whole number when I produce an artist", he said. "I really put them through something. They have an experience. And it changes the record".

Fellow musicians loved Jack - even if they wanted to wring his neck at some point, which was inevitable. Hanging out with Nitzsche was one of the pleasures of life. Jack was funnier than hell, and he had an opinion on everything. He thought all rock 'n' roll was stolen from the black man - and that included his own music.

"Jack's one of the mighty few", said bassist Tim Dummond. "If you don't want to know the truth, don't ask Jack".

Nitzsche loved fencing, doo wop, women and all things Native American, although not necessarily in that order. He could be a cad when it came to the opposite sex, yet he somehow remained close friends with nearly every ex. Jack remembered every girl he ever had a crush on. In detail. And occasionally tried to call them while inebriated in the middle of the night many decades later.

With Nitzsche on your side you felt invincible, like you could go ten rounds with Ali. When he turned on you - which he invariably did - it was an equally unforgettable experience. Jack could be a real devil sometimes. You loved him anyway.

Nitzsche got a kick out of any joke at his expense, particularly if it had to do with the sort of high-profile shenanigans that landed him in court and earned him an unexpected role on "Cops". The sad irony was that Jack was in better shape than he'd been in years right before his death, fresh from trips to Australia and New York. One of the great joys of his life was being able to attend his son Jack Jr's marriage in May.

Jack Nitzsche was a real record hound. Mention a forgotten 45 by The Mighty Hannibal or the latest work by his beloved Jon Hassell and Jack could rhapsodize for hours. Despite three decades in the music biz, he still loved going to the record store and blowing dough on new sounds. Nitzsche might've appeared cynical about many things, but music wasn't one of them. Underneath the sometimes crusty exterior lurked a romantic, even sentimental, fellow.

One of his all-time favorite records was "That's All I Want From You", an old pop ballad covered by many singers, black and white. The version that moved Jack the most was the 1954 Jaye P. Morgan hit that he first heard in tenth grade. He talked wistfully of it.

The lyrics go like this:

A little love that slowly grows and grows
Not one that comes and goes
That's all I want from you
A sunny day, with hopes up to the sky
A kiss and no goodbye
That's all I want from you
Don't let me down
Oh show me that you care
Remember when you give
You also get your share
Don't let me down
I have no time to wait
Tomorrow might not come
When dreamers dream too late

Jack Nitzsche died at Queen of Angels hospital in Hollywood on August 25, 2000. The cause of death was cardiac arrest, brought on by a recurrent bronchial infection. He was sixty-three years old.

He is survived by son Jack Jr.

Jimmy McDonough
Back to top  Gloria Packard Living next door to...Jack

The first picture is me on my bike (with my little sister in the background).  Behind me is the Nitzsche's house. Our house is to the left and not in the frame but was identical.

Thanks Gloria, really sweet of you to take the time to write in.
I love your story!

The Easter picture shows the four of us on Easter '62, standing in the middle of the court.  The front houses behind us are on Hudson. Both photos are taken from the same viewpoint. Where we're standing is where Gracia used to sit with little Jack.

My family and I lived next door to Gracia and Jack Nitzsche and Jack Jr. at 1447 North Hudson Avenue in Hollywood. We lived there from April 1961 to July 1962. The Hudson houses were four identical brown shingle 1920s craftsman style two-bedroom bungalows with good sized porches in a Southern California-style court. The rent was $100 a month. The court had a big avocado tree and lots of grass for my three sisters and I to play on, with myself at 7 being the eldest. I remember it as a lovely sunlit time, with the excitement of Hollywood beckoning just outside our court which was one block from Sunset Blvd.

The Nitzsche's house was opposite ours. My father remembers Gracia more than Jack because she and my (late) mother used to talk. Gracia used to bring baby Jack outside on the grass to sit in the sun. I remember she was a petite, slender blonde with her hair sort of in a beehive, she wore black eyeliner. She was very friendly and very pretty. Jack looked like the typical '60s beatnik with black hair and goatee.

I don't think I ever went in the Nitzshe's house but they used to have the door open, so sometimes I peeked in. I remember a lot of live music coming from their house, with guys playing instruments in the dark, cigarette-smoky front living room. My father says there was a disturbance one time at their house and he heard that Jack was brandishing a rifle. He thinks it was some kind of "pot party";).

Gloria Packard

Back to top  P.J. Proby Jack (Nitzsche), Jack (Daniels) And P.J.

P.J. Proby

Thanks to P.J. Proby for sharing this memory. I want to read the book! For more on P.J., what he's done, his current activities and latest CD's available to buy:

The Official P.J.Proby Fan Club

Two other great P.J. Proby sites that are well worth visiting are:

P.J. News, reviews and links etc.
Worldwide discography, label scans and picture sleeves etc.

I won't go into a long Route 66 trip with Jack and I. It seems I've come to that bend in the road where it becomes time to relate with others the wonderful days you were lucky enough to share with some very wonderful people. Jack Nitzsche was one of these I call 'the wonderful ones' simply because I had such a wonderful time raising holy hell with him. Jack, in particular, brings a smile to my mind when I remember times we had together, like this one from my hope-to-be published book of stories about my life. Hope you get a kick out of it. Jack and I sure did.
See Ya

P.J. Proby

Chapter from the Book (Page 412)

Jack Nitzsche, my recording manager in Hollywood, told me I just could not keep on drinking the way I was. It's ruining your voice and not giving your best in the studio. He said, "Maybe if you tried a bit of grass?" I said, "Well - if you think so Jack, but I don't even smoke real cigarettes". The joint he gave me ended costing Al Bennet a fortune. I was due to do an afternoon recording session. Jack came to fetch us from the house, he handed me a joint and told me to take a couple of drags, I did! Everything seemed fine! I got into the car, had another, into the recording Studio, had another and then I stepped into the box to record; I opened my mouth to start singing and I went Wooooaaaahhhh! This music is beautiful fellas. I just want to listen, play on boys, play on! Jack tore his hair out. "I can't believe this has happened to me!", he said, totting up the cost for all the musicians and the cancelled session. Needless to say, that was the end of me and the 'peace weed' and back to my double act with Jack Daniels. The year was 1967 in Hollywood.

A poem from P.J.

Jack and Jim climbed up a limb
To smoke a joint together
Jack and Jim fell of the limb
It must have been the weather