Wally Heider, who began a lifelong fascination with Big Band jazz as a music school student in his native Oregon and later founded two of the preeminent recording studios in California, died Wednesday of cancer.
His friend and attorney, Francis Mintz, said he had died at his daughter’s home in Valencia. He was 66.
Heider’s studios on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood and Hyde Street in San Francisco attracted such band leaders as Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Harry James, Buddy Rich and many more.
Heider came to recording from his background as a band arranger. He mastered that craft at the University of Oregon music school where he not only formed a 12-piece band with two vocalists but occasionally played saxophone in it as well.
He traveled to England and recorded the Ted Heath and Johnny Dankworth bands before setting up his first studio in San Francisco. He next formed Hindsight Records, traveling the country looking for material that had not yet been recorded. That firm was sold and he later founded Swing Time Video.
The video firm was started after he obtained rights to the Big Band short films of the 1940s and ‘50s. Those were five- and 10-minute pictures that were shown between double features at neighborhood movie houses. Heider edited them and reissued them on video tape.
He is survived by a daughter, son and two grandsons. Services will be held in Sheridan, Ore.