Tim Hauser, Founder of The Manhattan Transfer
December 12, 1941 - October 16, 2014
Tim Hauser, founder of The Manhattan Transfer passed away on October 16, 2014. He was born in Troy, New York on December 12, 1941. At age 15, he founded a teenage doo wop/R&B/rock & roll quintet called The Criterions. They cut several songs for the Laurie label. In 1959, “I Remain Truly Yours” was his first introduction to the charts, reaching #24. When he was 17, the first song he produced, “Harlem Nocturne” for The Viscounts, reached the #3 spot on the Billboard chart. At Villanova University, he was active in the Villanova Singers, which included his classmate Jim Croce. Tim formed a folk trio, The Troubadours Three, with another classmate, Tommy West and another former Criterion, Jim Ruf. After graduation, they toured the U.S. with “Hootenanny Stars of 1963.”
In 1964, Tim served his country and spent time in the Air Force and the New Jersey Air National Guard. Upon his return, his used his economics degree to become a Madison Avenue marketing executive. At 28, he decided it was now or never to pursue a music career so, in 1969, formed the first incarnation of The Manhattan Transfer with Gene Pistilli, Marty Nelson, Erin Dickins and Pat Rosalia. They recorded one album, Jukin’, on Capitol Records, but their difference in musical taste, with Tim favoring the jazz/swing sound, caused their dissolution just a few years later.
He paid his bills by driving a New York City cab while aspiring to form a harmony vocal quartet that could authentically embrace varied musical styles, and still create something wholly unique in the field of American popular song. Through driving a taxi, he met the next members of the legendary group -- Laurel Massé and Janis Siegel. Alan Paul, who was appearing in the Broadway cast of “Grease” at the time, was recommended as the additional male voice and the four became The Manhattan Transfer on October 1, 1972. Cheryl Bentyne joined The Manhattan Transfer in 1979, replacing Laurel.
In 1974 the group began performing regularly throughout New York City at Trude Heller’s, Mercer Arts Center, Max’s Kansas City, Club 82, and other cabaret venues. By the end of the year they were the number one live attraction in New York City. They were signed to Atlantic Records and released their self-titled debut in 1975. The second single, a remake of the gospel classic “Operator,” gave the group their first national hit. The band was soon tapped to helm a weekly hour-long summer replacement comedy-variety show, which premiered on CBS on August 10, 1975. Their next two albums, Coming Out and Pastiche, brought them a string of Top 10 hits in Europe and produced a #1 smash in Britain and France with “Chanson d’Amour.”
The newly formed quartet’s first album was 1979′s Extensions which earned the band another smash with “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone.” The vocal remake of the classic “Birdland” became recognized as the group’s anthem, and earned them their first two Grammy Awards, for Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal or Instrumental and Best Arrangement For Voices. In 1981, they became the first group ever to win Grammy Awards in both Pop and Jazz categories in the same year – Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Boy From New York City,” and Best Jazz Performance, Duo or Group for “Until I Met You (Corner Pocket)”. The next two years, the group won consecutive Grammy Awards in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The 12 Grammy nominations they received for Vocalese in 1985 made it the single greatest Grammy nominated album in one year to date, and cemented the group’s status as one of the most important and innovative vocal groups in the history of popular music. The band’s next studio album, the ground breaking Brasil, won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Their Grammy wins continued into the ‘90s and The Christmas Album became a top selling album, and they expanded their catalog to include recorded children’s music and different genres of swing music. The group recorded with an impressive roster of artists – Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, Laura Nyro, Phil Collins, B.B. King, Chaka Khan, James Taylor, and Frankie Valli.
With worldwide sales in the millions, Grammy Awards by the dozen, and veterans of sold-out world tours, The Manhattan Transfer has continued to record and tour and will continue to do so.
Hauser also used his producing skills with other artists, including Richie Cole’s Pop Bop, and the last session of Eddie Jefferson. He produced the soundtrack to the film “The Marrying Man,” in which he also made his acting debut as Woody the bandleader. While performing with TMT, Tim recorded his first solo album, “Love Stories,” released on September 5, 2007 by King Records in Japan.
Tim resided in Los Angeles, California with his wife, Barb Sennet Hauser. He also leaves behind a son, Basie, and a daughter, Lily and a sister, Fayette Hauser. Tim’s family appreciates the kind and warm wishes and requests any notes of condolence be posted on the TMT Facebook page in lieu of phone calls or emails, as they prefer privacy at this difficult time. The members of The Manhattan Transfer said, “As many of you know, Tim was the visionary behind The Manhattan Transfer. We spent more than 40 years together singing and making music, traveling the world, and sharing so many special moments throughout our lives... It's incomprehensible to think of this world without him. We join his loving wife, Barb, his beautiful children, his family, and the rest of the world in mourning the loss of our dear friend and partner in song.”