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Obituaries

R. Goodwin, 77; Wrote 60-Plus Movie Scores

January 12, 2003|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Ron Goodwin, the British composer of more than 60 film scores, including "Where Eagles Dare," "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy," has died. He was 77.

Goodwin, who had suffered from asthma, died Wednesday at his home near Reading, west of London, according to his wife, Heather.

Goodwin's first feature movie score was for 1959's "Whirlpool." In the 1960s, he became best known for his themes for war films, including "633 Squadron," "Battle of Britain" and "Operation Crossbow."

Goodwin, who joined Parlophone (EMI) Records in 1950 as musical director for record producer George Martin, also became one of the company's top-selling recording artists.

Recording under the name of Ron Goodwin and His Concert Orchestra, he earned gold and platinum records. In 1994, Martin presented Goodwin with the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement in Music.

Goodwin spent the last 30 years touring as a conductor, performing a mix of classical works and popular hits.

Born in 1925 in Plymouth, England, the self-taught musician began his professional career in 1943 when he joined the arranging department of music publishers Campbell, Connelly & Co.

From 1945 to 1950, he headed the arranging department at Bron Associated Publishers, where he wrote arrangements for all of the leading British broadcasting bands, including the BBC Dance Orchestra. He also began conducting recording sessions for artists, including Petula Clark and Jimmy Young, whose hit record "Too Young" Goodwin arranged and conducted.

After joining Parlophone in 1950 as musical director for Martin, Goodwin worked with a variety of artists, including Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.

Goodwin began his movie career by writing scores for documentary films in the mid-1950s.

Once described by a musician colleague as a relaxed and easy-going perfectionist, Goodwin devoted his spare time to working with young musicians. He was associated with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, the Birmingham Schools Concert Orchestra and the Worthing Youth Orchestra. He was also on the board of the Young Person's Concert Foundation, which takes professional musicians into schools and other places where young people don't have an opportunity to hear music.

"It's a great feeling when you take a 65-piece orchestra into a school and they've never heard an orchestra before," Goodwin said in a London Independent article two years ago.

"Most kids have never really thought about an orchestra playing 'Star Wars.' Suddenly, they realize it took a lot of people sitting there working hard to produce that music on the film. It's a revelation."

In addition to his wife, Goodwin is survived by a son, Christopher.

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