How The Beatles and Peanuts Creative Team Bonded at the Oscars

The Bay area quickly became a mecca for the new beat music. “Bill Graham built a new infrastructure for the music business,” explains John Lingan, author of A Song for Everyone: The Story of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The community became renowned for rock music venues. The rise of radio-friendly pop tunes drowned out a lot of jazz sounds, and many traditionalists tried to swim against the tide, mocking the music as teeny bopper noise, and hoping things like Beatle wigs would be a passing fad.

“Guaraldi did not run away from this, however,” Bang says. “He was very quick and in fact, quicker than many jazz musicians to incorporate pop into what he delivered. Whereas, in the 1950s, most of what he would perform during a club gig would be drawn from songs on The Great American Songbook. He has a great version of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ that became a very steady part of his set list as the 1960s moved into the early seventies.”

Throughout the decade, the Beatles provided the soundtrack to the generation, while Schulz’s Peanuts gang grew to reflect the children growing up during the period. By the 1970s, both groups were up against each other.

“The best story regarding their relationship with the Beatles was the fact that both Guaraldi and the Beatles were nominated for an Oscar the same year,” Bang says. “It was when A Boy Named Charlie Brown, the big screen film came out, and Guaraldi and John Scott Trotter and Rod McKuen were nominated for the song score. The Beatles were nominated for Let It Be.”

Directed by Bill Melendez, produced by Lee Mendelson, and written by Schulz, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, the first theatrically released feature Peanuts film, premiered on Dec. 4, 1969. Guaraldi’s soundtrack was nominated for Best Music, Original Song Score at the Academy Awards. It found itself in competition to the soundtracks to The Baby Maker, Darling Lili, Scrooge, and Let It Be, which was released in theaters in May 1970.

By the time the Oscars were presented, The Beatles had broken up. The one who announced their breakup, Paul McCartney, was the only band member to attend the pre-Oscar dinner. The Peanuts gang filled the extra chairs.

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