Van Dyke Parks

In a field where the term "genius" is handed out freely, Van Dyke Parks is the real article. As a session musician, composer, arranger, lyricist, and singer, he's contributed significantly to several decades' worth of inimitable masterpieces credited to other artists, as well as generating two or three masterpieces of his own. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1941, he was a musical prodigy and attended the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. He studied the clarinet and also worked as a child actor, on-stage and on television, co-starring with Ezio Pinza in the 1953 comedy series Bonino, and also working in movies, including Grace Kelly's final film, The Swan (1958).