His name may be unfamiliar to even the most shrewd audiophile and TV/movie buff, but his clean, economic, and tasteful guitar style has filled the ears and hearts of millions. Bob Bain was there when the guitar slowly emerged from its status as a rhythm instrument to a viable, natural, melodic voice.
After continuing to work around town awhile, Bob joined the Freddie Slack Band. In 1940, Slack's band released a string of these boogie-woogie tunes that became hits: “Rock-A-Bye Boogie," “Scrub Me, Mama, With A Boogie Beat," and “Fry Me, Cookie, With A Can of Lard." Their biggest hit “Beat Me, Daddy, Eight To The Bar" sold over 100,000 copies for Columbia Records.
During his stint with Slack, Bain met, and befriended, two other musicians also destined for fame: Barney Kessel and Barney Bigard.
Bain performed on a number of radio shows in the late’ 40s and early’ 50s.
On the Sunny Side of the Street (1946)
It was at RCA’s original location on Sycamore Avenue where Bain recorded many of Tommy Dorsey’s hits.
EARLY STUDIO DAYS
Before the rise of the independent recording studios
in Hollywood, there were only a few facilities available to handle the growing interest and volume of recordings. During the ’40s, MacGregor Studios, on Western and Olympic in Los Angeles, did a great deal of recording. It was founded by C.P. MacGregor, one of the early recording pioneers.
Although his very large studio wasn’t the best acoustically, many motion pictures were scored there, as well as dance hall records and cues. For $18 per hour, you could cut 6 tracks. Known as “electrical transcriptions,” as many as 30 tracks were contained on large discs. They would use these tracks as library music. MacGregor offered a transcription service and would sell this music to radio stations. It was customary to record P.D. (public domain) songs so as to avoid having to pay an ASCAP royalty. At this time, the majority of recordings.
In the early ’50s, when KHJ built a new building, their old location was taken over by Capitol. It was here that Bain left his indelible mark on many recordings, perhaps the most memorable being the
Nelson Riddle arrangement of “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole.
I've Got You Under My Skin (1956)
The Sinatra Classic arranged by Nelson Riddle.
Bob Bain's riff on Mancini's Peter Gunn gave birth to the Spy Guitar.
Hugo Montenegro's version of the Man from Uncle with Bain's guitar.
Batman too?!? Holy '53 Telecaster Caped Crusader!
Bob Bain on the Silvertone bass on Lalo Schifrin's legendary track.
Bob Bain is credited on IMDB with 29 episodes of Wild Wild West season 1. The muted low notes sound suspiciously like the 53 Telecaster. More spy guitar influence.
The Bain/Mancini combination was a perfect musical match, making it common for them to see each other two or three times a week. With the “Mancini Magic" becoming more and more embraced by the masses, a series of his classic melodies were associated with as many classic films.
Experiment in Terror (1962)
An Engineer’s Perspective: “All the Mancini dates… Bob was the guy. All that great guitar stuff was Bob. The solo he did on ‘Charade’…killer, absolutely killer.” - Al Schmitt
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Bain coached, and accompanied, actress Audrey Hepburn on the
timeless classic “Moon River”.
The Pink Panther (1963)
The Mancini/Bain magic was heard again for The Pink Panther.
More Film Themes
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Bain played his Fender Telecaster and a Yamaha 12-string on Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven.
Released by Paramount in 1963 this film featured a score written by Elmer Bernstein. Later, for some reason, the studio felt that it was too much orchestra for this simple character portrayed by Paul Newman - it also starred Patricia Neal. Before Bernstein left for Europe to do another picture, he asked Bain to reorchestrate his original score.
“He said, ‘Hey, I gotta redo this picture but I haven’t got the time. I’ll give you the score that I wrote. They said the music is too heavy. What can you do?’ I said, ‘How about just another guitar, a keyboard and maybe a bass?’ So I did it with Al Hendrickson, myself, Ray Sherman on piano and a percussionist. They did use Bernstein’s main title. All I did was arrange all the cues but it came out very well. It turned out to be a real big picture.”
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
For the movie Doctor Zhivago, Bain played the balalaika, a traditional Russian stringed instrument.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)