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Rick Rhodes, 54; Composer for Soap Operas and Movies Won Six Emmys

November 30, 2005|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Rick Rhodes, a composer and producer who won six Emmys for his music on the television soap operas "Another World," "Guiding Light" and "Santa Barbara," has died. He was 54.

Rhodes died of brain cancer Nov. 2 in Oak Park.

Over a 35-year career, he made three solo albums and about 20 recordings with other artists, and composed more than 70 CDs for use by media companies.

His composing credits for television included such shows as "Friends," "Murphy Brown," "Saturday Night Live" and "The Tonight Show."

Rhodes was the music supervisor or composer for several feature films, including "Mars Attacks," "The Mighty Ducks" and "True Lies."

With his writer and lyricist wife, Vivian, he also collaborated on two Emmy-nominated songs, "Fasten Your Seat Belts" and "Let's Be Lovers Again."

The couple coauthored "Ug: The First Caveman Musical," which was performed in Ventura County and off-Broadway in 2004.

"This [music] is the one thing I think I do the best," Rhodes told The Times in 2000, when he formed his Rhodes Music Services. "I've known that since I was a teenager, and I've stayed with it.... I wouldn't trade it for anything else."

His business, which he operated out of his home studio, found and delivered music for commercials, movies, television shows and video games.

If he could not find what he considered suitable in a music library, he composed and produced the material himself, using a keyboard and computer.

Rhodes became adept at providing such specific items as mood music cuing an audience to gasp, cry or flinch; the ceremonial trumpeting for Olympics coverage promotions; and melodies for commercials.

Born in Los Angeles on July 28, 1951, Rhodes learned to play the trombone at age 13 and taught himself to play the piano at 16.

While majoring in music and theater at what is now known as Santa Monica College, he put together a four-piece rock band called Wonder.

With Rhodes as the singer and keyboardist, the band performed at Holiday Inns around the United States.

Next came a stint as music director for Las Vegas shows featuring such entertainers as Kenny Rogers and Frank Sinatra.

Rhodes returned to Los Angeles and played and recorded with a trio, segueing into jazz, before moving into composing for television in the 1980s.

In recent years, Rhodes produced several shows for the Santa Susana Repertory Company, in partnership with Lane Davies, whom he met while working on "Santa Barbara."

Rhodes composed most of the music for the company's annual production of "A Christmas Carol" and often took cameo roles on stage.

With Davies, Rhodes also co-founded the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company in Thousand Oaks and created a theater instruction and mentoring program for Oak Park High School in Oak Park.

In addition to his wife of 23 years, he is survived by a son, Adam; a daughter, Allison; his mother, Shirley Rothstein; and a sister.

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