Jazz composer Vince Guaraldi poses for a portrait sitting at the piano in circa 1960. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
If you know the name Vince Guaraldi, you probably associate it with one iconic piece of music…
The jazz pianist – with his Vince Guaraldi Trio – composed and performed the theme song for the Charlie Brown animated specials based on the Charles Schulz comic strip. The song is a classic, one that brings to mind the whole gang and, especially, Snoopy's exuberant dancing.
But it's far from the only thing Guaraldi did. In fact, before he even became involved with Peanuts, he won a Grammy award for his 1962 single "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."
Indeed, it was that recording that caught the attention of Lee Mendelson, who was producing a documentary on Charlie Brown and his crew. Mendelson loved the sound and thought it would be perfect for the Peanuts TV specials he was producing with animator Bill Melendez. Guaraldi was excited about the idea and within two weeks, he had something for the producer to listen to. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration – Guaraldi provided the music for seventeen Peanuts specials, as well as the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
Vince Guaraldi died on February 6, 1976. The day before, he had enjoyed dinner with Lee Mendelson, and on the afternoon of his death, he had been composing the music for It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown. His funeral service was accompanied by the beloved music he wrote for the Peanuts gang.
Written by Linnea Crowther