Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Miser Heat Miser......The Music Man who defined Christmas for a new generation

It's once again that time of year when the show biz Gods look down at Appleton resident Maury Laws, smile and shower him with residual checks. Maury worked with all the greats - Perry Como, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, Judy Collins, Danny Thomas, Fred Astaire. During televisions golden age he orchestrated and composed music for countless variety shows, commercials and recording artists. But it was his first job as a musical director that made him famous. The year was 1964 and the show was the Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - soon to become the longest running special in television history and for Laws, the springboard for dozens of animated specials that he would arrange and compose for. At first, he mostly re-arranged popular Christmas hits like "Rudolph" and "Frosty The Snowman" and composed incidental (dramatic background) music. Soon, he was doing it all. For the new generations that have never known a Christmas without endless replaying of the Rankin Bass shows, Maury's original composition "Snow Miser,Heat Miser" from The Year Without Santa Claus is now a bonafide standard whose popularity far eclipses both Frosty and Rudolf. Maury is a World War II combat veteran whose professional music career stretches back to the pre-war days of live radio broadcast. He continues working today. Not many composers can say that they've had their music sung in a major motion picture by California Governor (and UW Superior grad) Arnold Schwarzenneger.... Maury can.
Here's Arnold trying to conduct his villainous crew to a sing along of the music of Maury Laws in Batman and Robin.

I can't resist throwing in Maury's "Do The Mummy" from the Rankin Bass feature film Mad Monster Party. Saw it in Madison at the Orpheum on a triple bill.


s. melmoth said...

Sorry to be off-topic but...wanted you to know that Eau Claire native Justin Vernon, known by his stage name as Bon Iver, made Wisconsin proud playing the David Letterman show last night. He wore a Bucky Badger shirt underneath his flannel. He's finishing a long tour in Europe with home shows in Madison and Eau Claire over the next two weeks.

flasputnik said...

Thanks! He's actually on my list. I missed last nights show. I 'll catch it online today.

Anonymous said...

The two music clips I just watched there both had steel guitar players in the band. Although I couldn't see pedals on either. Well, what next... an autoharp or a zither?! Ha!.. take that my friend!