Jack Halloran

Jack Halloran (January 10, 1916 – January 24, 1997) was an American composer and choral director. He died at 81 of a stroke.


Early lifeEdit

Born in Rock Rapids, Iowa in 1916, Halloran earned degrees in music from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, and Northwestern University.

Choral and pop culture involvementEdit

He sang with a male quartet called the Cadets on several Chicago-based radio shows, including "The Breakfast Club With Don MacNeil." He later formed the Jack Halloran Quartet, which appeared on the television programs "Dave Garroway at Large" and "The Pat Buttram Show." Relocating to Hollywood, Halloran became a choral director for films, records and television, working with such entertainers as Roy Rogers, Pat Boone, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. He landed the job as choral director and arranger on The Dean Martin Show while working with the singer on his recording of "Volare." Halloran also organized the Jack Halloran Singers, which performed throughout Southern California.

In 1957, Halloran arranged and recorded the current version of the song The Little Drummer Boy (at the time, titled Carol of the Drum) for the Dot Records album Christmas Is A-Comin'. However, the recording was not released as a single that year, and in response to this, Dot Records employee Henry Onorati told arranger Harry Simeone about it. Simeone ended up hiring many of the same singers from Halloran's Jack Halloran Singers and recording a nearly identical version the following year. For Simeone's release, he retitled it The Little Drummer Boy. This version, released by Simeone in December of 1958, became very successful, and has since become a popular Christmas song. Although Simeone did not actually compose, write, or arrange it, he later received a partial writing credit along with his friend from Dot Records, Henry Onorati, and the song's original author and composer, Katherine Kennicott Davis. Halloran has never received a writing credit for the song, something his family disagrees with.[1][2][3][4]

Halloran directed the orchestra and chorus for Bing Crosby's 1959 LP Join Bing and Sing Along. He directed the chorus for Bing's 1962 LPs On the Happy Side and I Wish You a Merry Christmas and Bing's 1971 LP A Time to Be Jolly. He was also a member of the Ray Conniff Singers, appearing on such albums as Speak to Me of Love (Columbia, 1963).

Halloran was also a former local president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Arrangements and compositionsEdit


Witness (1986) was first released in an a cappella setting for 8-part mixed voices, and within months had sold over 30,000 copies. The following year it topped 50,000 and continued to climb. Today it remains a top seller and an industry standard. Veteran arranger Dick Bolks has revoiced and edited Halloran's setting into an SATB edition with optional accompaniment.


  1. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2005-03-05). "Harry Simeone: Populariser of 'The Little Drummer Boy'". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
  2. ^ "The Little Drummer Boy by The Harry Simeone Chorale Songfacts". Songfacts.com. 1977-09-11. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
  3. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 394. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  4. ^ Estrella, E. (2019, February 8). How the 'Little Drummer Boy' Christmas Carol Came to Be. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20191123173121/https://www.liveabout.com/little-drummer-boy-history-2456078