Paul Weston was born on March 12, 1912, in Springfield, Massachusetts. When he was two years old, his family moved to Pittsfield where he attended grammar and high school. He majored in Economics at Dartmouth College, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his senior year, and graduated cum laude with the class of 1933. During his four years at Dartmouth, Weston also studied music and organized and led his own dance band, The Green Serenaders.
Weston went to New York in the fall of 1933, took some graduate courses at Columbia University, and played piano in the Columbia dance band, The Blue Lions. In January 1934 he was severely injured in a train accident. During his convalescence, he spent quite a bit of time arranging music. Upon his return to New York in the fall of 1934, he sold an arrangement of “Pop Goes Your Heart” to the Joe Haymes Orchestra at the McAlpin Hotel. This led to the commissioning of several additional arrangements for Haymes, one of which was a medley of tunes from Anything Goes which was heard by Rudy Vallee. Rudy sent for Weston and offered him the opportunity to make arrangements for the then-famous radio show The Fleischman Hour. During this time, Weston also made arrangements for Phil Harris.
In the fall of 1935 the Dorsey Brothers band split up, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey went their separate ways. Tommy used the Joe Haymes Orchestra as a basis for his first time try as a solo orchestra leader. Weston joined him as a full-time exclusive arranger and stayed with the band for five and a half years. In January 1940, Weston became a free-lance artist and conducted his first recording session for Liberty Music Shop, a Lee Wiley album of Rodgers and Hart songs. Weston then began writing arrangements for a new singer at Victor Records, Dinah Shore.
In the summer of 1940, he moved to Hollywood to write for the Bob Crosby orchestra, although he still continued to write for Dinah Shore’s radio and record dates. He also wrote for Fibber McGee and Molly, Ginny Simms, and Paul Whiteman during this time. In 1941, the Bob Crosby orchestra was hired to do the background music for the Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire musical, Holiday Inn. Weston’s arrangements for the picture were so admired that the studio asked him to do work for Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Betty Hutton.
In 1942, while working at Paramount Studios, Paul met Johnny Mercer, who was in the process of forming Capitol Records with Buddy DeSylva and Glenn Wallichs. Johnny wanted Paul to write for the label. On April 6, 1942, Paul directed and arranged Johnny Mercer’s “Strip Polka,” the first arrangement written for a Capitol Records artist.
On August 1, 1942, the Musician’s Union strike went into effect and caused a recording ban across the country. Work at Capitol Records ceased until June 1943 when Johnny Mercer premiered his radio program, Johnny Mercer’s Music Shop. The show was a showcase for new Capitol Records talent and featured artists such as Ella Mae Morse, Jo Stafford, and the Pied Pipers. In October, the recording ban was lifted for Capitol Records, and Weston started to record again with these artists and others such as Betty Hutton, Margaret Whiting, Gordon MacRae, Matt Dennis, and Andy Russell.
In 1944, Paul was hired on as Musical Director and Artist and Repertoire consultant for Capitol, a position he held for six years. He also conducted the orchestra for Duffy’s Tavern, Joan Davis, the Hit Parade, and Jo Stafford’s Chesterfield Supper Club. During this time, he conceived an idea for an album of music that would incorporate great melodies into stylized music that wouldn’t compete with conversation. This idea became known as “Mood Music” and was represented in Paul’s first album called Music For Dreaming.
In 1950, Paul switched to Columbia Records and brought Capitol Records’ top recording artist, Jo Stafford, with him. He starred in his own CBS radio show and continued his output of “Mood Music” albums. In 1952, he married Jo Stafford. In 1952 they had a son, Tim; a daughter, Amy, was born in 1956.
During the 1950s he became increasingly more involved in television with credits on The Jo Stafford Show, The Chevy Show and numerous other specials. In 1957, he helped to form the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and acted as the first president of the Los Angeles chapter. Also during that year, he and his wife introduced the comedy team of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, whose recording of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris, resulted in a Grammy award in 1960.
During the 1960s Weston concentrated most of his work in television.
He was the musical director for the Danny Kaye Show, The Jonathan
Winters Show, The Jim Nabors Show, The Chevy Show, and others.
In the early 1970s, he wrote for the Disney On Parade show. By 1974,
Paul Weston was largely retired, although he continued to write
music and record as Jonathan Edwards. In the late 1970s he formed
Records label, which to this day reissues the Columbia recordings
made by Paul and Jo.
Paul’s composing was largely uninterrupted throughout his life. He wrote standards such as “Day By Day” and “I Should Care,” as well as symphonic works like his Crescent City Suite, The Bells of Santa Ynez, The Journey of Mercy Partridge and more. Paul Weston passed away in 1996.