25 October 1943|
Queens, New York
27 August 1987 (aged 43)|
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics|
1974: The Wiz
Best Original Score
1975: The Wiz
Charlie Smalls (October 25, 1943 – August 27, 1987) was an African-American composer and songwriter, best known for writing the music accompaniment to playwright William F. Brown's 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, later adapted to a 1978 film version of the same name, by Motown Productions in collaboration with Universal Pictures, and starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
A musical prodigy, Smalls attended the Juilliard School at age eleven in 1954, staying until 1961. He wrote the song "From Me To You" for the Hugh Masekela 1966 album Hugh Masekela's Next Album. In 1968, he appeared on the "Some Like It Lukewarm" episode of The Monkees (episode #56, original airdate March 4, 1968), chatting at a piano with singer Davy Jones. He wrote a song for John Cassavetes's 1968 film Faces called "Never Felt Like This Before".
After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts, Smalls toured as a member of the New York Jazz Repertory Company before beginning work on The Wiz. An African-American urbanised retelling of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wiz was adapted into a feature film in 1978. He also wrote the score for the 1976 film Drum.
Smalls was in Belgium accompanying the tour of professional jazz dance instructor Sue Samuels to whom he was engaged to be married, when he died suddenly in Belgium during emergency surgery to repair a burst appendix. He was 43.
He is survived by his son Michael. At the time of his death, Smalls was working on a new musical. He had begun working on Miracles, a musical adaptation of The Man Who Could Work Miracles by H.G. Wells. He had recorded some songs with Geoffrey Holder and The Harlem Boys Choir.
- Aufderheide, Jeremy (2007). "Creators: Charlie Smalls". The Wiz: A Virtual Coffee Table Book. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
- Sandoval, Andrew (2005). The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story Of The 60s TV Pop Sensation. Thunder Bay Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-59223-372-4.
- Search for "Charlie Smalls" at "Past Winners Search". The American Theater Wing's Tony Awards. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
- Charlie Smalls scores for The Wiz, 1974 Music Division, The New York Public Library.