Don Ralke (July 13, 1920 – January 26, 2000) was a prolific music arranger, composer, and producer, working for four decades in the Hollywood studio system in films, television, and pop recordings. He was born on July 13, 1920 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Ralke died on January 26, 2000 in Santa Rosa, California.
Ralke received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Southern California, graduating with honors. He also studied with famed composer and Hollywood emigre, Arnold Schoenberg.
On the bongos Ralke collaborated with versatile flute and reed instrumentalist, Buddy Collette on “Jazz Heat”, “Bongo Beat”. Warner Bros. hired him for “Gershwin with Bongoes” and “The Savage and The Sensuous “, which is widely regarded as one of the best jungle exotica albums of that era. He worked with Warren Barker on the music for 77 Sunset Strip and did the heavy musical lifting when Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, one of the show’s stars, became a teen idol and recorded his one hit, “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)”. Ralke performed similar duties for “Hawaiian Eye” star Connie Stevens when she recorded “Sixteen Reasons”. Other recordings include Jewel Akens’ “The Birds and the Bees”, and five other gold records. His orchestra backed Sam Cooke on several 1959-1960 songs. Ralke also recorded two hits by Ty Wagner: “I’m a No Count” as well as “Slander”. In the late 1960s he created his own record company. He collaborated with sound engineer Brad Miller on the hugely successful strings-with-environmental sounds creation, the Mystic Moods Orchestra.
Working with “Golden Throats talent” became a specialty niche for Ralke. Ralke is credited for convincing non-singers including William Shatner and Lorne Greene to play it safe and stick to narration over a musical background. Ralke also produced Beach Boys dad Murry Wilson’s The Many Moods of Murray Wilson which was not kindly lauded by critics but nonetheless has achieved a place as an important footnote in 1960s music.
In 1972 Ralke produced and orchestrated Bob and Dick Sherman’s Grammy nominated musical film Snoopy, Come Home.
In the 1970s, he returned to television, working for producer Garry Marshall on the series “Happy Days” and its spin-off, “Laverne and Shirley”.
Ralke was once described by Stan Ross, co-founder of Gold Star recording studio, as “the most well-known unknown in the business.” (by wikipedia)
Hollywood arranger Don Ralke didn’t make a lot of records, but thank goodness this one. pair of LPs has been reissued. It´s a lounge album featuring bongos, but they couldn’t be less alike in character. “But You’ve Never Heard Gershwin With Bongos,” resets a dozen Gershwin classics in new and sometimes outrageously over-the-top big band settings – by way of a Los Angeles recording studio, naturally. It’s pure Hollywood balderdash and about as authentic as the red naughahyde on a cocktail lounge banquette. Which is why I love it. (Mark Schildenberg)
Don Ralke & His Orchestra
01. Fascinating Rhythm 2.46
02. How Long Has This Been Going On 2.26
03. Clap Yo Hands 3.00
04. Love Is Here To Stay 3.35
05. Summertime 2.55
06. My One And Only 2.34
07. They All Laughed 2.43
08. Love Walked In 3.14
09. They Can’t Take That Away From Me 2.40
10. Maybe 3.33
11. A Foggy Day 2.59
12. I Got Rhythm 3.00
Music composed by George Gershwin