Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

COSTA, Don

(b 10 June '25, Boston MA; d 19 Jan. '83) Conductor, composer, arranger, producer. No formal training. Started in local radio in '40s; arranged for Vic Damone, Sarah Vaughan, Vaughan Monroe etc; in '50s joined ABC Paramount A&R staff, later moved to United Artists. Arranged, conducted for Eydie Gormé, Steve Lawrence; made Paul Anka a star at 16. Record of hit film theme by Manos Hadjidakis and Billy Towne 'Never On Sunday' '60 sold ten million around the world, the first European song to win an Oscar. Costa was voted top orchestra leader by Cashbox, formed own Don Costa Productions and had success with soul group Little Anthony and the Imperials, folk/pop singer Trini Lopez. Costa's work with Sinatra began with Sinatra And Strings '62; later he worked with Sinatra after his premature retirement '73, conducted TV special and album Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back, hit singles 'Cycles', 'My Way' etc. Arranged for Barbra Streisand, Perry Como, Dean Martin, the Osmonds; scored films Rough Night In Jericho '67, Richard Widmark/Henry Fonda detective vehicle Madigan '68. Own LPs incl. I'll Walk The Line and Never On Sunday; Out Here On My Own with daughter Nikka; they were preparing another when he died. Costa was a workaholic who was out of his time; the best album he did with Sinatra was the first. Everybody in Sinatra's touring orchestra liked Costa and admired his craftsmanship, but knew that his arranging skills were wasted on the Hollywood folk-pop of the '70s that Sinatra chose to record. Costa was very popular in South America and was touring there when he died suddenly.