Gary McFarland

Gary Robert McFarland (October 23, 1933 – November 3, 1971)[1] was a composer, arranger, vibraphonist and vocalist, prominent on Verve and Impulse! Records during the 1960s, when he made "one of the more significant contributors to orchestral jazz".[1][2][3]

Gary McFarland
Birth nameGary Robert McFarland
Born(1933-10-23)23 October 1933
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died3 November 1971(1971-11-03) (aged 38)
New York City
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
Years active1963–1971
LabelsVerve, Impulse!, Skye, Cobblestone, Buddah


McFarland was born in Los Angeles, on October 23, 1933, but grew up in Grants Pass, Oregon.

He attained a small following after working with Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Hodges, John Lewis, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, and Anita O'Day.[1]

As well as his own albums and arrangements for other musicians he composed the scores to the films Eye of the Devil (1966) and Who Killed Mary What's 'Er Name? (1971). By the end of the 1960s, he was moving away from jazz towards an often wistful or melancholy style of instrumental pop, as well as producing the recordings of other artists on his Skye Records label (run in partnership with Gábor Szabó and Cal Tjader until its bankruptcy in 1970).


Around 1971, McFarland had been considering a move into writing and arranging for film and stage. But, at age 38, on November 3, 1971 – the same day that he completed the Broadway album, To Live Another Summer; To Pass Another Winter – McFarland died in New York City at St. Vincent's Hospital from a lethal dose of liquid methadone that, apparently, he had ingested while at Bar 55 at 55 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. It will never be known whether he took the drug on purpose or whether someone spiked his drink, as inexplicably, the police never investigated.[1][4] Gary McFarland had been married since 1963 to Gail Evelyn Frankel (maiden; 1942–2007) and, together, they had a son, Milo McFarland (1964–2002) and a daughter, Kerry McFarland. Milo McFarland, also at age 38, died of a heroin overdose.[4]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Gary McFarland among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[5]


As leader


  • 1968: Does the Sun Really Shine on the Moon?
  • 1968: America the Beautiful: An Account of Its Disappearance
  • 1969: Slaves with Grady Tate
  • 1969: Today



Other labels

As producer/arranger

As sideman

With Bob Brookmeyer


  1. "Gary McFarland" (biography), by Douglas Payne, AllMusic (retrieved February 20, 2008)
  2. "Gary McFarland – Theme and Variations" (cover photo: McFarland), by Dan Morgenstern, DownBeat, Vol. 33, No. 4, February 24, 1966, pg. 25; ISSN 0012-5768
  3. "Mid-Month Recordings: The Young Art of Gary McFarland," by Robert Farris Thompson, Saturday Review, Vol. 48, No. 7, February 13, 1965, pps. 58–59; ISSN 0036-4983; OCLC 48957008
  4. "Gary McFarland: This is Gary McFarland" (film review), by Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes, July 22, 1915 (retrieved November 8, 2015)
  5. Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
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