A number of composers are listed on different albums/reels of the Capitol Hi-Q library at the time Hanna-Barbera used it, and you can find a little bit of information about most of the more common ones on-line. John Seely’s name comes to mind first because he got a credit on the six Warners cartoons that used the same library. Bill Loose’s name is connected with him.
You’ve read on this blog about Phil Green and Geordie Hormel adding to the sound of the 1950’s H-B cartoons through their cues picked up by Capitol (Green from EMI, Hormel from Zephyr). But there’s one composer who is a complete mystery. A chap named Spencer Moore.
You have to dig deep in the BMI database to find him; he’s not in the composer index. And a hunt for him on-line will find a reference to his stock music being used in the movie Night of the Living Dead (from the Hi-Q ‘D’ series). And that’s it.
So, just who was this guy? Was the name a pseudonym for some other composer?
Well, yes. And no.
Eventually on the blog, I’m going to do a piece on the Hi-Q library itself, but I want to focus on Mr. Moore. Let us go back to Geordie Hormel and the founding of Zephyr Records. Billboard Magazine reveals this in its edition of May 12, 1956:
Hormel Forms Zephyr Disks
HOLLYWOOD—Geordie Hormel, jazz pianist scion of the meat packing clan, has organized Zephyr Records, with the firm expected to get under way via its first initial release by June 1.
The disk firm will also operate Zephyr Music Library to supply music for radio, television and commercial films, and Austin Music, Inc. (BMI). Officers of the corporation, in addition to Hormel, include Roy Anderson and Marilyn Vaile, both associated with the Hormel Foundation of Austin, Minn.
Spencer Moore has been named general manager of the company, with Bill Hitchkock [sic] to helm a repertoire post.
There was a small, brief flurry of articles about Zephyr in mid to late 1956. On July 16, Billboard revealed Hormel was attending a convention “along with the firm’s comptroller-library chief, Spencer Moore.”
So it would appear that Moore was a money guy in charge of the Zephyr Music Library, which provided cues for the new Capitol Hi-Q library.
Moore didn’t stay with Zephyr very long. Variety of May 24, 1957 reports Moore had left the company amid reports Hormel was going to streamline operations (he was looking to sell the label a month later; Variety reported by November it was defunct). Moore went back to the music rep business. Variety mentions him again on October 1, 1958 in connection with a global tour for Arwin Records.
Hormel, if nothing, was ambitious. Billboard of September 29, 1956 tells that five projects were in the works, including “radio station management, artist representation, and TV film, motion picture and legit theater production.”
He actually did get a film company going. Eventually. From Boxoffice Magazine, April 26, 1965:
Geordie Hormel, record producer-arranger, is branching out into motion picture production and distribution, having formed Cinema-One, with plans for a slate of six features during the first year.
And guess who went along for the ride? This is from Boxoffice, Feb. 20, 1967:
SPCA Documentary Set
HOLLYWOOD—The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been documented in a half-hour film produced by Pacific Newsreel, a subsidiary of Hormel Films. To be shown in 600 Human Society Branches, the film was produced by Geordie Hormel and directed by Spence Moore. Action scenes of the sheriff’s aero squadron using helicopters in a chase of a “slasher” is part of the color film.
So was Spencer Moore a money guy, composer and movie director? It’s not clear about the last two, but he certainly qualifies for the first category. A book from the U.S. Library of Congress called Performing Arts: Broadcasting has a wonderful section on stock music by the premier scholar on the subject, Paul Mandell, and contained therein is this pertinent information:
Some hotshots of Capitol were able to grab performance royalties by bankrolling music packages. George Hormel, a pianist related to the Hormel meatpacking empire, laid claim to Hi-Q music which he financed but did not write. Spencer Moore was another. Composer Nick Carras recalled the scene: “Moore made his money by bringing his investors to Capitol and putting his name on our music...”
Maybe he could write a note of music. Or three or four. But it seems pretty clear that Spencer Moore was mainly a crony of fun-loving millionaire Geordie Hormel. And because of that, “his” music can be heard on some of the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
While Moore’s name is attached to different styles of music, H-B seems to have picked those with quirky violins, bassoons and horns. There are nine of them that I can attribute to him.
L-75 is a string-and-woodwind melody that is very reminiscent of some of Hormel cues on Hi-Q; perhaps the same ghost-writer came up with it. L-85 was heard on only one cartoon, the nascent Pixie and Dixie adventure Little Bird Mouse. L-1158 is a collection of short bassoon pieces that were snipped and used as musical effects.
If you click on the name of the cue, it should download into your computer’s audio player.
L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE
L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE
L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE
L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE
L-85 LIGHT MECHANICAL
L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL
L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY
L-1139 ANIMATION COMEDY
L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY
Late note from Yowp: Reader Steve Carras has pointed out a tenth cue, L-1147 Animation Movement, was used in the Snooper and Blabber cartoon Hop To It. It is not found in this post.