Nacio Herb Brown
Composer (Ignacio) Nacio Herb Brown, was born on the 22nd February 1896 in Deming in New Mexico. 1901 saw a move with his father, mother and older sister Charlotte, to live in Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree. His mother, Cora, began to instruct him in his initial musical education and although he established a very successful tailoring business, always played and wrote.
In 1920, Nacio had his first hit with Coral Sea. More success followed with When Buddha Smiles a year later. This led him to decide to become a composer full-time. Later in 1927, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers welcomed him as a member.
A notable year for Nacio Herb Brown was 1928, when newly established film company MGM hired him to write scores for films, which was a new concept at the time. For this, he was often paired with Arthur Freed, who was a lyricist. Over a number of years, he went on to write some of the greatest film scores ever produced. Significant examples being, Going Hollywood, Greenwich Village, A Night at the Opera and Babes in Arms.
One of their most famous collaborations, was on the song Singin’ in the Rain. This was first introduced by Doris Eaton Travis in the star-studded film The Hollywood Revue of 1929. The song gained further notoriety in 1952 when it was included in Singin’ in the Rain, one of the greatest films of all time. In 2013, composer and arranger James McFadyen, created a new, exciting arrangement of Singin’ in the Rain for the album A Second From Midnight by established and well respected cornetist Jim Hayes.
Nacio also worked on many other projects, including with Buddy De Sylva and Richard A Whiting on such musicals on Broadway as Take a Chance. Another noteworthy creation with L Wolfe Gilbert in 1949, was the music for Hopalong Cassidy, a popular children’s TV series of the time.
Sadly, Nacio Herb Brown fell ill in 1964 and was admitted to the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco in California, where he stayed for two days. He died at his youngest two children’s home on the 28th September 1964. He was married and divorced at least five times throughout his life and had three children.
Nacio’s career spanned from the 1920s through to the early 1950s and he is credited with writing film scores, popular songs and theatre music. Notable works are: All I Do Is Dream of You, Alone, and Paradise. In 1970, he had the honour of being inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the further accolade of being inducted to the New Mexico Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2012.