Leroy Shield as Director of Music for NBC
|Roy Shield, Roy Shields, Leroy Shields|
|Born||October 2, 1893|
|Died||January 9, 1962 (aged 68)|
Vero Beach, Florida
|Genres||Film score, show tunes|
|Labels||RCA Victor, National Broadcasting Company|
|Our Gang, Laurel & Hardy, Charley Chase|
Shield was a native of Waseca, Minnesota. Around 1922, he became a staff musician for the Victor Talking Machine Company (which later became RCA Victor), where he composed and conducted on-air music, and provided piano accompaniment on hundreds of popular and USF (US domestic foreign language) Victor recordings. He also worked part-time for the Hal Roach film studio, composing countless background themes that became associated with such Roach comedy stars as Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd, and Charley Chase. Good Old Days, Shield's composition for the 1930 Our Gang short Teacher's Pet, became the series's theme song, and his 1930 song "Beautiful Lady" was used as the theme song for the Pitts and Todd films.
On September 25, 1930, Shield recorded his only commercial recordings, "Sing Song Girl" (vocal by James Blackstone) and "Song Of The Big Trail" (vocal by Bud Jamison), issued as Victor 22548.
Due to a series of miscommunications, Shield's requests for scoring assignments from the Roach organization were repeatedly declined after 1936; the work went instead to Marvin Hatley. Shield continued to work for NBC in various musical capacities, including composition and conducting. He also authored two tone poems, Gloucester and The Great Bell, and the classical Union Pacific Suite.
In 1992, the Dutch band The Beau Hunks transcribed and recorded Shields's music from the Hal Roach comedies. The recordings drew praise from cartoonist R. Crumb, who rendered a portrait of Shield for the CD cover, and led to a renewed appreciation of the composer's work. In late 2016, producer and pianist Alessandro Simonetto published a CD, Leroy Shield: The Laurel & Hardy Piano Music (AEVEA/OnClassical AE16024) with music from the original manuscripts and publications, and some piano transcriptions of Shield's music.
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