Ralph Carmichael, composer and conductor of “I Love Lucy”, “The Blob”, dies at the age of 94
Ralph Carmichael, the versatile songwriter, composer and conductor whose prolific career spanned television, film and Christian music, died on October 18 in Camarillo, Calif., At the age of 94. His official Facebook page, which broke the news, did not specify the cause of death.
“Without exaggeration, Ralph’s talent and influence have shaped the music world for generations and will continue to bless and enrich our world for many generations to come,” the post read. “He was extraordinarily gifted, was the accomplished professional and a dear friend.”
Born May 27, 1927 in Quincy, Ill., Carmichael’s decades-long career began at Southern California Bible College (now Vanguard University), where he headed the music department at his alma mater early in the twenteeth. There he formed a group that won a spot on “Campus Christian Hour”, which earned him an Emmy Award in 1951.
That year proved to be a springboard for his career, as Carmichael also composed stage music for “I Love Lucy”, as he would for “December Bride”, “Bonanza” and “The Frankie Lane. Show”. This is also the year he embarked on his first project as a film composer with the Christian-themed western “Mt. Texas.”
In the fifties and sixties, Carmichael got many credits with his film and television scores, perhaps most notably for the sci-fi horror hit “The Blob” with Steve McQueen. Theme songs for cult classic shows like “My Mother the Car” and “OK Crackerby!” followed in the mid-sixties.
After this time, Carmichael lent his talents to the pop world, writing and composing music for Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Stan Kenton, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Jack Jones. He has benefited from long-term creative partnerships with Roger Williams (for whom he composed 20 albums including “Born Free” from 1966) and Nat King Cole.
The Cole and Carmichael collaboration produced nine albums, including “The Magic of Christmas” in 1960. Carmichael’s arrangement of “The Christmas Song” is widely regarded as a holiday classic.
Also known as the “Father of Contemporary Christian Music,” he is also famous for his contributions to the gospel and Christian music genres. He wrote over 300 gospel songs during his lifetime, earning him a place in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2001. Most notable titles include “The Savior Is Waiting ”,“ There Is A Quiet Place ”,“ Reach out to Jesus ”and“ He is everything to me ”.
Committed to promoting Christian musicality, Carmichael founded record and publishing companies in 1968 along with his studio group The Young People. He chaired the Gospel Music Association for many years and contributed songs to the Billy Graham Organization.
For 25 years Carmichael also toured with his own band, winning the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award in 1994 for his CD “Strike Up the Band”.
He is survived by his wife Marvella, as well as the children Andrea, Greg and Erin; grandchildren and great grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. His daughter Carol Carmichael Parks died before him.
“Ralph has enjoyed his life to the fullest. He was passionate about the music that flowed from his soul and created it as an accomplished professional, ”another Facebook post said on his page.
“He cared deeply for his family and friends, and he lived his cowboy dreams with the many horses he owned along the way. He laughed easily, loved deeply, enjoyed a good joke or prank, and charmed anyone who crossed his path. All of this was underpinned by his unwavering faith in his Lord Jesus Christ.