Charleston native – and 2008 WVMHoF inductee – Robert Drasnin passed away on May 13 at the age of 88. He grew up on Maxwell Street in Charleston’s east end.
Robert’s work included many notable TV and film scores including David Suskind’s CBS Playhouse production of “Death of a Salesman,” John Huston’s “The Kremlin Letter” and an early Jack Nicholson western “Ride in the Whirlwind.” As musical director for CBS television, he scored many classic shows including “Twilight Zone,” “Lost in Space,” “The Wild, Wild West,” “Mission: Impossible” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”
His 1959 LP, “Voodoo,” became a cult classic that was re-released in 1996 and placed Robert in the forefront of the lounge resurgence of the 1990s. Championed by guitarist Skip Heller, he performed “Voodoo” with ensembles at selected venues around the country. A 2005 performance in Ft. Lauderdale led to the recording of “Voodoo II” which was released in 2007.
For his induction segment, Robert conducted and played on a “Voodoo”-styled arrangement of the WVU fight song “Hail West Virginia.” When he attended the 2011 ceremony as a guest, he reprised the song with an updated arrangement.
I “discovered” Robert when I was researching musicians who were born in West Virginia. When I tracked him down we spoke for nearly an hour and the memories quickly came flooding back. Robert was a kind, generous and soft spoken man and it was an honor and a privilege to induct him into the WV Music Hall of Fame, and to reintroduce him to West Virginia.
– Michael Lipton