Pete Rugolo was a jazz composer and arranger. He was born in San Piero Patti, Sicily. His family emigrated to the United States in 1920 and settled in Santa Rosa, California. He started his musical career playing the baritone, like his father, but he quickly branched out into other instruments, notably the French horn and the piano. He received a bachelor's degree from San Francisco State College, and then studied composition with Darius Milhaud at Mills College in Oakland, California.
After he graduated, he was hired as an arranger and composer by guitarist and bandleader Johnny Richards. He spent World War II playing with Paul Desmond in an army band. After WWII Rugolo went to work for Stan Kenton who headed one of the most progressive big bands of the time. Rugolo provided arrangements and original compositions that drew on his knowledge of 20th century music, sometimes blurring the boundaries between the ballroom and the concert hall.