Wednesday, 30 November 2016
Hang 'em High/The Good The Bad And The Ugly/For A Few Dollars More/Theme From A Fistful Of Dollars
Hugo Mario Montenegro (September 2, 1925 – February 6, 1981) was an American orchestra leader and composer of film soundtracks. His best known work is derived from interpretations of the music from Spaghetti Westerns, especially his cover version of Ennio Morricone's main theme from the 1966 film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He composed the musical score for the 1969 Western Charro! which starred Elvis Presley.
Montenegro was born in New York City in 1925. He served in the U.S. Navy for two years, mostly as an arranger for the Newport Naval Base band in Newport, Rhode Island. After the war he attended Manhattan College while studying composition and leading his own band for school dances.
He was later hired by Time Records as a musical director producing a series of albums for the label, and moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s where he began working for RCA Victor, producing a series of albums and soundtracks for motion pictures and television themes, such as two volumes of Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E., an album of cover versions of spy music themes Come Spy With Me and an album of cover versions of Ennio Morricone's music for the Clint Eastwood The Man With No Name series of spaghetti Westerns that led to major chart hits.
Montenegro's electronic works were decisive and influential for the future generations of electronic musicians, giving a retro/futuristic edge by the use of the Moog synthesizer, and helped to push its popularity. He will be also remembered by his versions of classics such as the main theme to Sergio Leone's film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, originally composed by Ennio Morricone. This was Montenegro's biggest pop hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #3 in the Canadian RPM Magazine charts, and spending four weeks atop the UK Singles Chart in 1968. It sold over one and a quarter million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
His version of the main theme from Hang 'em High reached #59 in Canada. In 1968, his hit "Aces High" placed at #11 on the Billboard Year End Chart of the Top Hits of 1968.
In the late 1970s severe emphysema forced an end to his musical career, and he died of the disease in 1981. He is buried at Welwood Murray Cemetery in Palm Springs, California.