Sammy Nestico Death – American Composer and Arranger, Sammy Nestico is Dead. Sammy passed away on January 17, 2021. Details surrounding his cause of death is still unknown. Nestico was best known for his arrangements for the Count Basie orchestra.
Nestico was born on February 6, 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nestico joined his high school’s beginner orchestra in 1937 as a trombonist. In 1939, he wrote his first arrangement. At age 17, Nestico joined the ABC radio station WCAE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a trombonist.
During his career, he arranged music for the Count Basie Orchestra (1967–1984), the U.S. Air Force Band (fifteen years) and the U.S. Marine Band (five years) both in Washington, D.C. In addition, he played trombone in the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, and Charlie Barnet.
In 1998–1999 Nestico was a professor at the University of Georgia, teaching commercial orchestration and conducting the studio orchestra. He also directed music programs at Los Angeles Pierce College, Woodland Hills, California, Westinghouse Memorial High School, and Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.
During his long career in the television and film industry, he arranged and conducted projects for Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughan, Toni Tennille, Frank Sinatra, Phil Collins, Barbra Streisand, and Count Basie. As orchestrator, he has worked on nearly seventy television programs, including Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Charlie’s Angels, and The Mod Squad.
He has written commercial jingles for Anheuser-Busch, Zenith, Ford Motor Company, Mattel Toys, Pittsburgh Paints, the National Guard, Dodge, Remington Bank, and Americard.
He has published nearly 600 numbers for school groups and many for professional big bands. He has conducted and recorded his arrangements with several leading European Radio Jazz Orchestras, including the BBC Big Band in London, Germany’s SWR Big Band and NDR Big Band and the DR Big Band.
Nestico received a Bachelor’s degree in music education from Duquesne University in 1950, and he has received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from his alma mater.
According to family friends, Pittsburgh-native and Duquesne University alum Sammy Nestico had died, just weeks shy of his 97th birthday in February. We sends our love and condolences to his wife Shirley, the rest of his family and many friends and fans. Sammy’s compositions and arrangements are foundational to the sounds of jazz and big bands, today.
As a composer, arranger and bandleader, his career spanned decades and his charts have been heard by millions.
This past fall, we got word that Sammy entered into long-term hospice care in the San Diego area and was receiving care at his home in Carlsbad, CA. Condolences are pouring in on his facebook page, and a fan page from people who have known Sammy, musicians who have played his charts and listeners who’ve enjoyed the great sounds over the decades.
In October 2020, we shared this program, an appreciation of Sammy, joined by Butler-native Jim Anderson as well as great sounds from decades of Sammy Nestico charts.
We also want to remind you about a long-awaited documentary on Sammy’s life – which has some major Pittsburgh connections.