Bobby Hammack

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Bobby Hammack
Birth nameRobert Vernor Hammack
Born(1922-01-22)22 January 1922
Brookston, Texas
Died28 March 1990(1990-03-28) (aged 68)
GenresSwing music, Popular songs, Big band, Film score
Occupation(s)Pianist, Bandleader, Arranger, Composer, Studio musician, Music executive, Freelance musician
Years active1945–1990
LabelsCapitol, Rhino, Audiophile, Coral, Liberty, Light
Associated actsWalt Disney
1964 New York World's Fair

Bobby Hammack (né Robert Vernor Hammack, Jr.; 22 January 1922 Brookston, Texas – 28 March 1990 Riverside, California) was an American musician, originally from Texas, whose principal instrument was jazz piano. He led a prolific career in Los Angeles as a pianist, organist, conductor, arranger, and composer in (i) live venues, (ii) broadcast studios for radio and television, and (iii) recording studios for records, radio, television, and film.[1][2][3] Hammack flourished in a wide spectrum of genres that included dixieland, Blues, swing, sweet dance music (e.g., Lawrence Welk), easy listening, gospel, liturgical jazz, musical theatre, Tin Pan Alley, classical, and film score.[4]


In 1949, Hammack began appearing KLAC-TV as studio band pianist and, in 1950, guest host — Don Otis Show — and eventually host — Bobby Hammack and Joy Lane. Hammack was the West Coast musical director of the ABC-TV and radio networks between 1958 and 1963, during which he conducted his own orchestra and scored music for several TV shows, including Ed Sullivan, Glen Campbell, Red Skelton, and Johnny Mann's Stand-Up and Cheer.[5] Hammack then was a conductor and a pianist for NBC. He joined ASCAP in 1958. Hammack's popular song compositions include I'm Going Home, Eliza, and You Bug Me.

Hammack got his first break playing piano for Red Nichols as one of his post-war Five Pennies, appearing with Nichols in a number of film shorts in the early 1950s. Hammack also worked as a freelance arranger and writer for Bob Crosby, Lawrence Welk, and Tony Osborne. His version of Raymond Scott's Powerhouse is featured on several space age pop compilations, and he also recorded with Esquivel.

Formal education[edit]

Hammack earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, majoring in music, from the University of Texas at Austin in 1945. He had entered as a freshman in the fall 1938, but, beginning September 21, 1942, spent two years in the Air Force, stationed at Muskogee, Oklahoma. At Texas, he studied piano at the newly established (1938) College of Fine Arts with Thomas Arthur Gorton, PhD (1910–1997), who, in addition to being a concert pianist, went on to become Dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Kansas from 1950 to 1975.[6]

[7] He graduated from Paris High School in 1938. Hammack was also a proficient trombonist.[8] While in high school and college, Hammack led his own dance orchestra.

Selected discography[edit]

As leader

  • Powerhouse, The Bobby Hammack Quartet, Liberty Records (1955) OCLC 43645637
  • The Bobby Hammack Quintet, ABC Paramount (1956)
  • Solid! South Pacific, Bobby Hammack Quintet Liberty Records (1957) OCLC 58594755
  • Lovely Hula Hands, Bobby Hammack (organ), Coral Records (195?) OCLC 23804196
  • Rhythm, Bobby Hammack Orchestra, Capitol Records (1959)
  • Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 3: Space Capades, Bobby Hammack Combo, Capitol Records (1996) OCLC 34783512
  • My Favorite Things (side A); The Farewell Song (side B), Swirl Daze (45 rpm) (1960)

As leader of the back-up musical group

As keyboardist (re-release dates)

As composer/arranger

As conductor

Selected filmography[edit]

Orchestra leader


  1. Seaside Westside (16 September 1964)
  2. The Big Jump (23 September 1964)
  3. The Case of the Slippery Slipsy (30 September 1964)
  4. How to Raise Children Without Really Trying (7 October 1964)by)
  5. Mickey Crashes the Movies (14 October 1964)
  6. The Way the Fortune Cookie Crumbles (21 October 1964)
  7. Goodnight, Whoever You Are (28 October 1964)
  8. Nobody Buys Retail (4 November 1964)
  9. Hard Work Never Hurt Anyone (11 November 1964)
  10. Honest Injun (25 November 1964)
  11. Somebody's Been Sleeping in My Bed (2 December 1964)
  12. For the Love of Grandpa Toddie (9 December 1964)
  13. One More Kiss (16 December 1964) (composer & conductor)
  14. Luck O' the Irish (23 December 1964)
  15. The Elephant Mickey Won't Forget (30 December 1964)
  16. Be My Guest (6 January 1965)
  17. Mickey Takes Over (13 January 1965)
  • Vacation Playhouse (1 episode, 1963)
  1. Hooray for Love (1963 TV episode)

Music department

  1. Summer Magic: Part 2 (1965) TV episode (orchestrator)
  2. Summer Magic: Part 1 (1965) TV episode (orchestrator)


  • Starlift (1951 film) (uncredited — piano player soldier)


  • Meet the Dixieland Bands, Volume 2 — Firehouse Five Plus Two, Red Nichols and His Pennies, Pete Daily and His Chicagoians, Swingtime Video (1985)

Selected musical dramas[edit]

Premiered at the New York World's Fair 1964–1965

Selected radio shows[edit]

Aired on channel 7 KABC-TV (channel 7), January 28, 1957
Licensed to and distributed by the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service
Edited and presented on AF-9313 as Show #20[9]
  • Cross Country USA, AFRTS 226, January 30, 1978


  • One of Hammack's three daughters, Karen Hammack (née Jean Karen Hammack; born 1955), is a studio pianist and music educator based in the Los Angeles area.


  1. ^ The ASCAP Biographical Dictionary; Third edition, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, New York (1966), pg. 305 OCLC 598257
  2. ^ ASCAP Biographical Dictionary; Fourth edition, compiled for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers by Jaques Cattell Press, R.R. Bowker, New York (1980) OCLC 7065938
  3. ^ The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music, Composers and their music, three volumes, by William H. Rehrig (born 1939), Integrity Press, Westerville, Ohio (1991–1996) OCLC 24606813
  4. ^ Jérémie Noyer, Entretiens avec un empire, rencontres avec les artistes Disney: Volume 3, Disneyland Paris raconté par ses créateurs. Vol. 3, Harmattan, Paris (2012) OCLC 802324824
  5. ^ Lexicon/Light Composers and Artists, Billboard Magazine, October 14, 1972, pg W-9
  6. ^ Personal Papers of Thomas A. Gorton, 1949–1997, University of Kansas, Kenneth Spencer Research Library
  7. ^ Jazz Goes to Church, The Alcalde, January 1961, pg. 29
  8. ^ Kit Reid and Bobby Hammack Schedule Pitched Band Battle, Rice Thresher, October 25, 1940, pg. 1
  9. ^ Art Pepper on "Stars of Jazz," by James A. Harrod (of Irvine, California; born 1942), Pacific Jazz / World Pacific Labelography at; aka Jazz Research (2012)