Johnny Richards (born Juan Manuel Cascales, November 2, 1911 – October 7, 1968) was a jazz arranger and composer. He was a pivotal arranger for some of the more adventurous performances by Stan Kenton’s big band in the 1950s and early 1960, such as Cuban Fire! and Kenton’s West Side Story.

Richards was born in Toluca, Mexico, to a Spanish father (Juan Cascales y Valero) and a Mexican mother (Maria Celia Arrue aka Marie Cascales), whose parents were Spanish immigrants to Mexico. He entered the United States on August 4, 1919 at Laredo, Texas, along with his mother, three brothers (also professional musicians) and sister:


Richards’ father, Juan Cascales y Valero, immigrated earlier, crossing the border at Laredo, Texas, on June 4, 1919. The family lived first in Los Angeles, California and later in San Fernando, California, where Joe, Johnny, and Chuck attended and graduated from San Fernando High School. In 1930, Richards was living in Fullerton, California, and attending Fullerton College.

Richards worked in Los Angeles, California from the late 1930s to 1952. In 1952 he moved to New York City. He had been arranging for Stan Kenton since 1950 and continued to do so through the mid-1960s. He also led his own bands throughout his career. In addition, he wrote the music for the popular song “Young at Heart” (1953), made famous by Frank Sinatra and others.

Richards died October 7, 1968, in New York, New York, of a brain tumor. Reviewers have deemed his style as being influenced by Duke Ellington and Pete Rugolo.

With Charlie Barnet

With Harry James

With Stan Kenton

With Hugo Loewenstern

Media related to Johnny Richards at Wikimedia Commons