Bernie Hanighen

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Fred Astaire singing Hanighen and Mercer's "Poor Mr. Chisholm" in Second Chorus (1940)

Bernard D. Hanighen (April 27, 1908, Omaha, Nebraska – October 19, 1976, New York, NY) was an American songwriter and record producer best known for co-writing "'Round Midnight" and "When a Woman Loves a Man". He also worked with Clarence Williams and Johnny Mercer.

Songwriting Career[edit]

Hanighen composed lyrics for the 1946 Broadway musical Lute Song, which starred Mary Martin and Yul Brynner, and which featured music by Raymond Scott.

Bernie Hanighen and Cootie Williams collaborated to transform Thelonious Monk's bop masterpiece "'Round About Midnight" into "'Round Midnight," creating what became a standard in the vocal canon thanks to performances by Mel Tormé, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Chris Connor, and Julie London.

Producing Billie Holiday[edit]

From 1936 to 1939, Hanighen co-produced Billie Holiday's early Columbia recordings with John Hammond. He and Holiday remained close friends. She wrote in her 1956 autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues:

Bernie almost lost his job at Columbia fighting for me. A lot of guys were big tippers uptown, but when it came to fighting for you downtown, they were nowhere. Not Bernie. He was the cause of me making my first records under my own name - not as anybody's damn vocalist, but Billie Holiday period, and then the list of musicians backing me. Bernie Hanighen is a great guy.[1]

  1. ^ Holiday, Billie; Dufty, William (1957). Lady Sings the Blues. New York: Doubleday. p. 38. ISBN 0-14-006762-0. 

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