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Dick Halligan & Me at the Piano

Dick Halligan and me jamming at his home in Los Angeles, CA. (1982)

Dick Halligan

Dick and I played a gig together prior to Blood, Sweat & Tears. He had a beautiful sound on the trombone. He also had a good singing voice. When Al Kooper left the band, Dick switched from trombone to organ, doubling on trombone when needed. One day, he asked if he could write a chart for the band. None of us knew that he arranged! His first chart on "God Bless The Child" knocked everybody out!

Listen to "God Bless The Child"


I thought all of his arrangements were wonderfully imaginative and quite diverse – from "Sometimes in Winter" to "Lucretia MacEvil" to "He’s a Runner" to "Sympathy for the Devil" to "One for My Lady".... Unlike me, who had only studied arranging a little bit and was a slow arranger, Dick was quick at writing charts. He developed this skill at Manhattan School of Music, where he had deadlines for completing his assignments. Probably only a few people know this, but some of the tunes that I picked to arrange for BS&T I had trouble finishing, for one reason or another. So I asked Dick if he would take them on. These included the Erik Satie piece, "Fire and Rain", and the hit tune "And When I Die". For the latter, I had only come up with one idea, that I played for Dick at the piano. I encouraged him to use this idea because I felt it was very catchy/commercial. It was an Coplandish hoedown–type rhythm. Dick used a variation of my suggestion as a recurring motif or musical ‘hook’ several times in his arrangement. He originally intended his arrangement of the Erik Satie theme to be for three recorders. But when they tried recording the piece, it wasn't in tune. So Dick played all the parts on flute instead. He told me that around the time of recording this piece, he took one casual flute lesson from a trumpet player he knew. Then the rest he learned on his own, in a very short time.

At meetings for choosing material to record for BS&T, the attending band members would listen to the tunes being presented. Once a tune was chosen, either Dick or I would say we wanted to arrange it. Rarely did both of us desire to arrange the same song. We never co-arranged a tune, and hardly ever discussed arrangements we were doing for the band. Dick and I always got along very well ever since our first meeting at a bus terminal in the Bronx, en route to a gig playing together in the Catskill Mountains.