William Harold Wheeler Jr. (born July 14, 1943), better known as Harold Wheeler, is an American orchestrator, composer, conductor, arranger, record producer, and music director. He has received numerous Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominations for orchestration, and won the 2003 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations for Hairspray.

Wheeler first worked in the 1960s as the musical director for Burt Bacharach making him the first African-American MD of a major pop act. He also was doing arranging for Tony Orlando and Nina Simone during that time. He was named Music Conductor for the 76th Academy Awards, becoming only the second African-American conductor in the Academy’s history. He also was a music arranger on the 79th Academy Awards. Wheeler was one of two conductors (the others being fellow composers John Williams and Paul Shaffer) during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Wheeler was the musical director on the ABC Network show, Dancing with the Stars for the shows first 17 seasons. In January 2014, it was announced that former American Idol bandleader Ray Chew would take over as musical director for the show’s 18th season.

In 2008, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP Theatre Awards In 2019, he received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater.

Harold was born in St Louis, Missouri. He attended Howard University, where he met his future wife- television, Broadway, and movie performer Hattie Winston.

With Bernard Purdie