Composer, owner of local supper club dies. Phil Moody, who was a symbol of sophisticated nightclub music in Palm Springs, died at a local hospice Monday. He was 89.
By Bruce Fessier
Moody, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in his native Great Britain, had a long career as a Hollywood composer and arranger and as a music director in Las Vegas and the MGM Grand in Reno.
His daughter, Mary Moody Lewis, said his most lasting work was "The Laguna Concerto," which he performed with symphonies across the country, and in concert at the Palm Springs Desert Museum. It was re-titled "The Lunar Concerto" for a documentary of the first lunar landing, "Footprints on the Moon."
He was best known in the Coachella Valley as co-owner and music director of Moody's Supper Club in Palm Springs. He produced original musical revues at the intimate club on South Palm Canyon Drive from 1980 to 1990.
He and Grace Moody also had their own rooms at Marie Callender's, Las Brisas and Livreri's Italian Restaurant until 2004.
They and their Moody Singers performed tributes to songwriters such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Fats Waller, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, and Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. They also saluted Frank Sinatra and Broadway musicals. It was Moody's original concerti for each production and his original arrangements that distinguished the shows from similar nightclub tributes.
"There wasn't just one outstanding arrangement," said David Christopher, who joined the Moody Singers in 1980. "They were all outstanding arrangements. Each time I look at them now, I say, ‘How did we do that?' He was brilliant."
"He was without a doubt one of the finest pianists I've ever played with," said Larry New, a former A&M recording artist who went from the Moodys to The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.
"He had the ability to do more with less than anyone I've ever known.
Moody moved to Los Angeles from the United Kingdom after World War II and found film and recording work after impressing industry titans such as Irving Mills and Stan Kenton.
He recorded Fats Waller-styled jazz albums and wrote scores for the films "So This Is Paris," "Love Me Deadly" and "Paris Follies."
He first visited Palm Springs in 1950 with the singing duo Grace and Pony Sherrell. He married Grace and formed a writing partnership with Pony.
In the 1960s and '70s, he directed and co-wrote material for artists as diverse as Jimmy Durante, Betty Grable, opera diva Helen Traubel and film legend Mae West, who performed a "muscle man" act with special material co-written by Moody.
Phil and Grace Moody also performed in local nightclubs such as the Doll House and the Ranch House before starting their supper club with their daughter, Mary.
They were given a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on Palm Canyon Drive between Amado Road and Tahquitz Canyon Drive.
Greg Purdy, a member of the Moody Singers for more than 20 years, said the singers considered themselves part of the Moody family.
"I know it sounds cliché, but Phil was like a father," he said. "The music world lost a great talent and we lost our beloved maestro."
Besides his daughter, Moody is survived by his brother, Bosh Moody in England.
A graveside service is tentatively scheduled for Friday at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City. Mary Lewis said a private celebration of life will be held later in the season.
MOODY, Phil (Philip Trevor Moody)Born: 1921, Southampton, England, U.K.
Died: August 22, 2011, Palm Springs, California, U.S.A.
Phil Moody's western - musical arranger:
The Second Greatest Sex - 1955