Lyle Stephanovic (August 19, 1908 – August 5, 2005), better known as Spud Murphy, was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and arranger. An unsung musical hero who played a major supporting role in shaping the Big Band era, when he was arranging and writing music for top bands in the 1930s such as Casa Loma, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson and Bob Crosby.
He set out at age 14 for a music job on the West Coast -- prevented from joining the band on a cruise ship due to his tender age, he wandered the American Southwest for several years playing in obscure bands like the “Rainbow Seven” and “Jeff's Hot Rocks.” His first professional job was half of a two-piece band working for tips in a Mexican border town.
By the late 1920s Spud began achieving some small musical success in Texas, writing arrangements for Johnny Mcfall’s Honey Boys 10 piece group. The first band to record one of his arrangements -- the jaunty “I Got Worry” -- was the Jimmy Joy Orchestra in 1928.
By the 1930s Spud Murphy was a first rate big band swing arranger writing for Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson and other top bands. By his own count, during the 1930’s Murphy wrote nearly 600 arrangements and over 100 original compositions. While in New York, Spud formed an orchestra that did radio broadcasts and recorded five albums for Decca and Bluebird.
In 1935-36 he scored over a hundred numbers for the Let's Dance radio broadcasts of the Benny Goodman band, including the hits, "Ballad in Blue", "Get Happy", "Jingle Bells", "Diga Diga Doo", "Restless" and "The Glory of Love". His most known assignment was to orchestrate the Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer song "Shorty George" as a song-and-tap number for Astaire and Hayworth in the musical You Were Never Lovelier (1942).
By the late 1930s Spud was a well-known highly respected band arranger. He moved to the Los Angeles area, and in 1937 his Spud Murphy’s Swing Arranging Method was published. started writing charts for Columbia Pictures, but he left to serve in the merchant marine in World War II. After the war, he returned to film work that included his iconic arrangement of "Three Blind Mice" for the Three Stooges' movies.
In the '40s and the '50s he went on to compose for more than 50 motion pictures; jazz albums; and he occasionally continued to write for Goodman and other musicians; and he briefly led his own small “third stream” combo in the mid-1950s.
Into his ninth decade Spud continued to be honored as a composer and educator, publishing more than 26 books including his own system of composition and arranging known as the equal interval system, an extensive course on composing, arranging and orchestration. students of his “equal interval” method include Oscar Peterson, Bennie Green, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones and Curtis Counce (who later played bass on Murphy's space age pop LPs New Orbits in Sound and Gone with the Woodwinds
Spud Murphy died August 5th, 2005, in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital following complications from surgery. He was 96. (Info edited from articles @ maxwelldemille.com & dlwaldron.com)