Don Grady of My Three Sons Had Musical Career
Don Grady passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 68. Most people associate Don Grady only with his acting credits, which include a period in the late '50s spent as a Disney Mouseketeer and a long-running stint as Robbie Douglas, the character he played for a dozen years on the television sitcom My Three Sons during the '60s and early '70s. But how many realize that the actor had a musical career both during and after his My Three Sons days ?
Grady, born Don Agrati, played drums, bass, piano, trumpet, and guitar. For a time he played with the Palace Guard, a folk-rock band. Later Grady joined Gary Zekley, a songwriter and producer, to establish a group called Yellow Balloon. In 1967, with Grady on drums, Yellow Balloon scored its only hit single, which took its title from the group's name. The group broke up after one hit and one album, along with a stop on American Bandstand with Dick Clark. Following that Grady went solo, billing himself under his given name, a real switch from his time spent as the band's "mystery drummer," when he concealed his identity behind dark glasses and a wig. He wrote and produced ‘Homegrown’, an original album released as Don Agrati on Elektra Records. The success of this album abroad led many European bands to cover Don's songs including a gold record for the Dutch band, Lucifer. Don moved to New York, and appeared in many musicals, including Godspell, Damn Yankees, and Tom Sawyer. It was there that he made the pivotal decision to leave acting altogether, and launch full time into writing music. Don returned to Los Angeles, borrowing $5,000 from his father to get started, and before long, collected his first paycheck as a composer for Hugh Hefner's Playboy Awards. Don pursued formal music training in composition, orchestration, and conducting under such legendary and
renowned instructors predominantly his music mentor, Don Nemitz. Soon, he began composing music for the live stunt shows at Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida. His score for The Wild, Wild, Wild West show ran for 14 years.
Don went on to create the theme song for The Phil Donahue Show, and became the Music Director for George Lucas Live, a 3-hour arena event for which he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra. In the ensuing years, Grady has built up a list of credits in the music industry, including composer, arranger, and conductor. He penned "Keep the Dream Alive" for Jazz to End Hunger, a musical project that drew artists such as Herbie Hancock, Della Reese and Bobby McFerrin, among others. He composed original material for The Revolutionary War, a documentary presented by the Discovery Channel.
He has also contributed musically to features presented by HBO/Warner Bros., A&E Television Network, Universal Studios, and George Lucas Productions where he was Music Director for George Lucas Live, a 3-hour arena event for which he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra.
In his own words; “I'm a musician who got lucky as an actor.”