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Robert Drasnin was born on 17 November 1927 in Charleston, West Virginia. At an early age Drasnin was interested in the Clarinet so he took lessons but when his family moved to Los Angeles he wasn't to start until 1938. He attended Franklin Avenue Grammar School in East Hollywood and then Thomas Starr King Junior High and eventually Los Angeles High School in which he joined the American Federation of Musicians. Drasnin went into the Army after graduation.
Robert Drasnin spent the vast majority of his career in music composing for films and television shows. He composed or supervised scores for well over 100 films and TV shows.
In 1955 Drasnin scored the film One Way Ticket To Hell. Drasnin later went on to score incidental music for such notable TV shows as The Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, Wild, Wild West, Hawaii Five-0, Time Tunnel, Lost In Space, Mannix, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea.
Robert Drasnin served as music supervisor for such TV shows as Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, The Twilight Zone and a host of made for TV movies.
In 1959 Robert Drasnin received his M.A. in Music from U.C.L.A in Los Angeles. That same year, while working at Tops Records, Drasnin was approached by David Pell, the head of the label, to create an Exotica album. Pell wanted a record that would cash in on the popularity of the Exotica genre made popular by Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman. Drasnin created 12 original compositions and would spend the later part of 1959 recording the record. Among the musical personnel was a young pianist by the name of John Williams who would later go on to score such notable films as Star Wars and Jaws. The LP was released on Tops/Mayfair records in both mono and stereo versions. The cover artwork for the LP featured a photo of a woman in a leopard print bikini dancing as two loin cloth-clad men play bongos in a dark jungle-like setting, bathed in red light. The original cover art was not used in the two different compact disc reissues of the album.
In 2002, three selections from the 1959 Voodoo album were used in the soundtrack for the documentary film Cinemania: "Desire", "Jardine de la Noche" and "Chant of the Moon".
In 2005 Robert Drasnin was invited to perform at The Hukilau—a 3-day Hawaiian/Tiki festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A 16-piece orchestra was assembled for the performance. The show consisted of selections from his 1959 album Voodoo as well as new Exotica-styled music that he composed after Voodoo. These new pieces would form the basis of the Voodoo II album, released in 2007.
In 2007 Robert Drasnin recorded and released Voodoo II, a follow-up album to his 1950 recording Voodoo. The initial recording was made in February, 2007, at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. The orchestra was recorded live to multi-track digital hard disc using Digital Performer recording software and Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) digital interfaces. The CD was produced by Skip Heller and released on Dionysus records in June 2007. Immediately following the release of Voodoo II, Robert Drasnin again performed at the Florida, Hukilau event with a 16-piece orchestra. The 2007 performance comprised compositions from both the Voodoo and Voodoo II releases.
Robert Drasnin has been married to the former Marlene Waters since 1956. They have three children: Morgen, Jennifer, and a son Michael.
Albums as a composer
- Voodoo (1959), Tops/Mayfair Records, vinyl [9679S](stereo)
- Chant of The Moon/Voodoo 45 RPM single (1959), Tops [45-S 316] Stereo
- Percussion Exotique (1960), Tops Records vinyl [L-1694], retitled issue of Voodoo with different cover artwork
- Voodoo CD Reissue (1996), Dionysus Records, reissued from a virgin LP master with different cover artwork by artist Shag.
- Exotic Excursion (October, 1996), Pickwick Records. CD reissue of Voodoo from the original master tapes. NOTE: only 10 of the original 12 tracks were presented on this CD release.
- Voodoo II (2007), Dionysus Records, CD
Albums as a musician
- It's New, It's Nice, It's Norvo (1956) (by the Red Norvo Quintet)
- Ken Hanna and his Orchestra
- Blues at Norm's (1963)
- Norvo...Naturally! (1957)
- Vibe-Rations (1956)
- "Couch, Los Angeles", Skip Heller, Mouthpiece Records, CD, R. Drasnin: clarinet
- "The Blue Dahlia" (2000), Stardust Records, CD, Robert Drasnin: Flute & Clarinet
- "Homegoing", Skip Heller (2002), Innova Records, CD, R. Drasnin: flut * alto saxophone
- "Man From U.N.C.L.E., Volume 2" (2003), Film Score Monthly, limited edition 2-CD set—limited to 3000 copies
- Jewbilee (2005)
- "Lost in Space - 40th Anniversary Edition" (2006), La La Land Records, 2-CD set contains at least 3 cues composed by Drasnin
- "Lua-O-Milo", Skip Heller, (2009), Dionysus Records, CD
Television Scores (partial)
"Episode(s)" denotes the listing may be incomplete.
|1962||The Twilight Zone||Episode:
Airdate: January 26, 1962
|1967||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||"The Wax Men"||NO|
|1977||CHiPs||All episodes (season 1):
"Taking Its Toll""
"Name Your Price"
Music re-used in two other Season 1 episodes.