Don Ralke (born 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 Bachelors and Masters 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 Sensuous and the Savage", 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, 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.
Snoopy Come Home
Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley
Description by colleagues
- Very Truly Yours, Crown Records CLP 5018
- Dance Caper in Hi-Fi, Warner Bros. Records WBS-1300
- Bongo Madness, Crown Records CLP 5019
- Bourbon Street Beat, Warner Bros. Records WBS-1321
- But You've Never Heard Gershwin with Bongoes, Warner Bros. Records WBS-1360
- The Savage and the Sensuous Bongoes, Warner Bros. Records WBS-1398
- Jerry Howard Plays Crazy Guitar, Imperial Records LP-9106
- (arranger/producer on) The Transformed Man, William Shatner Decca DLP-75043
- (arranger/producer on) "Ringo", Lorne Greene
- C'mon Let's Live a Little (soundtrack), Liberty LST-7430
- (arranger/producer on) Snoopy Come Home Original Cast Soundtrack
- "Don Ralke; Composed, Arranged TV Series Music". Los Angeles Times. 21 February 2000. Retrieved 24 October 2013.