Gary Robert McFarland (October 23, 1933 – November 3, 1971) was an American composer, arranger, vibraphonist and vocalist, prominent on Verve and Impulse! Records during the 1960s, when he made “one of the more significant contributors to orchestral jazz”.

McFarland was born in Los Angeles, on October 23, 1933, but grew up in Grants Pass, Oregon.

He attained a small following after working with Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Hodges, John Lewis, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, and Anita O’Day.

As well as his own albums and arrangements for other musicians he composed the scores to the films Eye of the Devil (1966) and Who Killed Mary What’s ‘Er Name? (1971). By the end of the 1960s, he was moving away from jazz towards an often wistful or melancholy style of instrumental pop, as well as producing the recordings of other artists on his Skye Records label (run in partnership with Gábor Szabó and Cal Tjader until its bankruptcy in 1970).

Around 1971, McFarland had been considering a move into writing and arranging for film and stage. But, at age 38, on November 3, 1971 – the same day that he completed the Broadway album, To Live Another Summer; To Pass Another Winter – McFarland died in New York City at St. Vincent’s Hospital from a lethal dose of liquid methadone that, apparently, he had ingested while at Bar 55 at 55 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. It will never be known whether he took the drug on purpose or whether someone spiked his drink, as inexplicably, the police never investigated. Gary McFarland had been married since 1963 to Gail Evelyn Frankel (maiden; 1942–2007) and, together, they had a son, Milo McFarland (1964–2002) and a daughter, Kerry McFarland. Milo McFarland, also at age 38, died of a heroin overdose.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Gary McFarland among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

Skye

Impulse!

Verve

Other labels

With Bob Brookmeyer