Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: Fred Marshall

Jan 16, 2020

Fred Marshall, born in Memphis and raised in Little Rock, was a talented musician, sculptor, inventor and educator, but is best know for his work on a classic Christmas cartoon.

Marshall, whose mother taught art at Arkansas Tech University, began playing piano at five and was playing bass and drums by the time he went to Little Rock Central High. As a teenager he played at jazz clubs on Ninth Street, remembering that he would hide behind his bass when police entered: “Not only was I underage, I was a white man playing in a black club.”

Moving to San Francisco in the 1960s, he played with some of jazz’s greatest musicians, including Little Rock’s Pharaoh Sanders. In 1962, he joined the Vince Guaraldi Trio, with whom he recorded several Latin jazz albums.

But Marshall and the Guaraldi Trio are best known for the music they wrote and performed for 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas special, the soundtrack for which remains a classic holiday recording.

Marshall died in 2001.

To learn more, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.