Celebrated film and movie composer, arranger, performer and symphony conductor Enrico Nicola (Henry) Mancini won twenty Grammy and four Academy awards, plus a Golden Globe, and a few others, while recording nearly one hundred albums in his lifetime of music. He was a globally respected public figure—a maestro—who performed at the White House for three presidents, and for the British Royal Family on three occasions.
Mancini’s expertise spanned the classical, pop, rock and jazz genres. He is often cited as the composer who brought jazz to film scoring. His collaborations with filmmaker Blake Edwards included some of his most widely received scores, such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Peter Gunn,” “The Great Race,” and “The Pink Panther.”
In his autobiography, Did They Mention the Music?, Mancini discusses his process of pre-selecting the musicians for whom he would write, to bring out the unique personality and character that particular musician possessed. For “The Pink Panther” theme, Mancini sought out the distinguished saxophonist Plas Johnson to play the song’s contagious theme. Johnson’s storied career includes credits alongside Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Smokey Robinson, Steely Dan, Frank Sinatra, and many, many others.