Death of Vince Guaraldi

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Vince Guaraldi, who was best known for composing music for the Peanuts specials from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) to It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976) and the franchise signature tune, "Linus and Lucy."

You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown (1975) was the last Peanuts television special to air during Vince Guaraldi's lifetime. Guaraldi died of a sudden heart attack on February 6, 1976, several hours after he had finished recording music cues for the next television special.

The music composed for "Good Sport" is a slight departure from Guaraldi's other scores as the music here tends to fuse Guaraldi's Jazz style with the funk, disco and pop music of the 1970s that was popular at time coupled with the use of the ARP String Ensemble synthesizer that was also in use of many 1970's pop hits. The special aired posthumously on March 16, 1976.

Guaraldi died at age 47 on February 6, 1976. The evening before, he had dined at Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson's home and was reportedly not feeling well, complaining of indigestion-like chest discomfort that his doctor had told him was nothing to worry about. The following evening, after concluding the first set at Butterfield's Nightclub in Menlo Park, California, with his interpretation of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", Guaraldi and drummer Jim Zimmerman returned to the room they were staying in that weekend at the adjacent Red Cottage Inn, to relax before the next set. Zimmerman commented, "He was walking across the room and just collapsed. That was it." His cause of death has been variously described as a heart attack or an aortic aneurysm.

Guaraldi's death was a blow to his colleagues.

"It was totally unexpected", said Mendelson.

"The day of his funeral, they played the Charlie Brown music over the sound system in the church. It was not an easy day; he was so young. It was one of the saddest days of my life. He was up to my house the night before his death, and said he had not been feeling well, and didn't know what it was."

Peanuts animator Bill Meléndez added:

"He was a real good guy and we miss him."

He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

Following Guaraldi's Death, He was replaced by Ed Bogas, Desirée Goyette and Judy Munsen.

Although David Benoit had scored an episode of This is America, Charlie Brown, he redid Vince Guaraldi's musical scores from 1992 to 2006. Since then, various composers have composed the musical scores in more recent productions.


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