At the age of 17, Sammy Nestico became the staff arranger for ABC radio station, WCAE, Pittsburgh, Pa. He received his B.S. degree in music education from Duquesne University, and has thrice been honored by the school with an honorary Doctor of Music degree, the Distinguished Alumni award, and in 1994, he was inducted into the “Century Club”. North Texas State also presented him with special music awards in 1978, 1979 and 1980. In 2005 he received an honorary doctor of music degree from Virignia's Shenandoah University.
As an educator, he has directed the music programs at Westinghouse Memorial High School, Wilmerding Pa., Pierce College, Los Angeles, Ca. and the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
Sammy joined the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. as staff arranger, and subsequently became the leader of the famous Airmen of Note. Following his 15 year tenure with the Air Force, he enlisted with the United States Marine Band in Washington, serving as chief arranger and director of the White House orchestra which performed for important judicial and congressional social functions during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
In the years between 1970 and 1984, Sammy was the composer/arranger for the Count Basie orchestra. He directed the recording of ten albums of original music, four of which won Grammy awards. During the same period he was also engaged by Capitol Records as arranger/orchestrator, co-writing the equivalent of 63 albums for that organization.
Sammy has collaborated with Steve Allen, Stan Freberg, Bobby Troupe and Johnny Mercer in the songwriting field, and he has orchestrated for such major film studios as 20th Century Fox, Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, MGM and Columbia. He has also arranged and/or conducted albums for recording artists Phil Collins, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughan, Toni Tennille, Patti Austin, Nancy Wilson, Pia Zadora, Paul Anka, Pat Boone, Ronnie Milsap, Daniel Rodriguez and others.
His television credits are numerous. As arranger, Sammy has written for specials by Julie Andrews, George Burns, Gene Kelly, Merv Griffin, Mary Tyler Moore, Goldie Hawn, The Grammy Awards, The Tonight Show, Perry Como, Toni Tennille, Liza Minelli, Bob Hope and many more. As Orchestrator he has worked on Mission Impossible, The Tony Randall Show, Medical Center, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Hawaii Five-O, The Bob Newhart Show, Gomer Pyle, The Streets of San Fransisco, Mannix, Mayberry RFD, MOD Squad, The Bionic Woman, Cannon, Emergency, Columbo, Charlie’s Angels, The Lou Grant Show, M.A.S.H. and fifty others. Sammy has also written commercials for Anheuser Busch, Zenith, the Ford Motor Company, Mattel Toys, Pittsburgh Paints, the National Guard, Dodge, Remington Bank Americard and more. The United States Air Force Band, Washington, D.C. sponsors a yearly award program entitled The Sammy Nestico Arranging Award.
He has been honored by ASMAC (American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers) and BBAA (Big Band Academy of America) and in 1998-1999 was a professor at the University of Georgia, teaching commercial orchestration and conducting the Studio Orchestra.
He is the author of the textbook The Complete Arranger
, published in 1993, currently marketed throughout the world in four languages. His arrangements have been played by leading symphonies, and recorded by the Boston Pops and Andre Kostelanetz Orchestras; but he is most proud of the nearly 600 numbers published in the education field and played in the schools of America.