Roy Budd

Last updated

Roy Frederick Budd (14 March 1947 – 7 August 1993) was a British jazz pianist and composer known for his film scores, including Get Carter and The Wild Geese . [1]


Early life

Born in South Norwood, South London, Budd became interested in music at an early age and began to play the piano when he was two, initially by ear and then by copying various melodies he heard by listening to the radio. When he was six, two Austrian music experts visited him at home and after various tests, found that he had perfect pitch. In 1953, he made his public concert debut at the London Coliseum. By the age of eight, he could play the Wurlitzer organ and four years later he was appearing on television at the London Palladium. Although widely thought to be a self-taught pianist, he did also receive piano lessons from a lady called Mrs Sax who also lived in Mitcham.

In 1950 and 1951[ dubious ] he featured on the Carroll Levis show on radio. Roy also won a talent competition on a television talent show hosted by Bert Weedon in 1952.[ dubious ] He sang some Jerry Lee Lewis songs when he was eleven years old with his brother Peter and a friend at the Sutton Granada under the name The Blue Devils.

He formed the Roy Budd Trio with bassist Peter McGurk and his cousin, drummer Trevor Tomkins before leaving school and embarking on a career as a jazz pianist. Roy later reformed the trio with Tony Archer or Jeff Clyne on bass and Chris Karan on drums. Clyne was later replaced by Pete Morgan, creating a line-up that was maintained until his death.

Budd met composer Jack Fishman while working at the Bull's Head club in London. Fishman got him signed to Pye, which released his single "Birth of the Budd" in 1965 and his album Pick Yourself Up!! This Is Roy Budd in 1967. [2]

His first recording was "Birth of the Budd", a single recording. His first recorded LP was Pick Yourself Up on Pye issued in 1967 with Peter McGurk on bass with the orchestra and Dave Holland on bass on the four tracks featuring the trio without orchestra. Chris Karan was on drums and Tony Hatch and Johnny Harris arranged the orchestral tracks. In his sleeve notes, Hatch refers to seeing Budd on the David Frost show on television in February 1967 playing the Frank Loesser composition "I've Never Been in Love Before", which is on the album.

Around that same time, he also recorded an album named simply Roy Budd featuring Ian Carr on trumpet, Dick Morrissey on tenor sax, Trevor Tomkins on drums, playing arrangements by fellow pianist Harry South.

Film career

In 1970, Budd made his film score début for director Ralph Nelson, who was looking for an English composer for his western Soldier Blue . [2] Budd recorded a tape of his own interpretation of music by composers Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin and Lalo Schifrin. Apart from the main theme, which he based on Buffy Sainte-Marie's hit song of the same title, he composed all the music required for the film and conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which Nelson commissioned at the start of the film's production.

In 1971, still in his early twenties, he composed one of his best known scores, the music for the film Get Carter . [1] The film's budget reputedly allowed only £450 for the score, but he overcame this restriction by using only three musicians, including himself playing electric piano and harpsichord simultaneously. In 1981 The Human League covered the film's theme on their album Dare .

Also in 1971, Budd was asked by Nelson to compose the music to Flight of the Doves , and worked with Dana who sang the film's theme; and composed the scores for the adventure Kidnapped and the western Catlow . In 1972 he recorded the score to Fear Is the Key , which was based on the Alistair MacLean novel. Whilst recording the score, Budd was influenced by Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes and Kenny Baker, thus giving the music a jazz-sounding theme. Scott played the saxophone for the car chase sequence.

Budd later worked for the producer Euan Lloyd on films, including Paper Tiger (1975), The Wild Geese (1978), The Sea Wolves (1980), Who Dares Wins (1982) and Wild Geese II (1985).

Later career

Budd's film work in the eighties included the scores for Mama Dracula (1980), Field of Honor (1986), and Picha's adult cartoons The Missing Link (1980) and The Big Bang (1987). Returning to his first love, he played jazz shows at Duke's Bar in Marylebone, London, partnering with harmonica player, Larry Adler. He also arranged for and accompanied Bob Hope, Tony Bennett, and Charles Aznavour.

Budd recorded two albums of film music with the London Symphony Orchestra. The first contained "Star Wars Trilogy", "Superman", "E.T.", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Star Trek: The Full Suite", "Alien", "Dr. Who", "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger". This was recorded at the end of May and beginning of June 1984 at the CTS Studio in Wembley. In 1985, the London Symphony Orchestra made a recording of the music from The Wild Geese, again at CTS Studio. Budd's other solo albums include Live at Newport, Everything is Coming Up Roses, and Have a Jazzy Christmas.

Budd's last work was a symphonic score for the 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera . [2]

Personal life

In 1972, as his career was peaking, Budd married the actress and singer Caterina Valente, but they divorced seven years later. They had a son named Alexander. He remarried in the 1980s to Sylvia and they remained together until his death.

Roy Budd died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 46 on 7 August 1993. [3]


Related Research Articles

Michel Legrand French film score composer (1932-2109)

Michel Jean Legrand was a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist. Legrand was a prolific composer, having written over 200 film and television scores, in addition to many songs. His scores for the films of French New Wave director Jacques Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), earned Legrand his first Academy Award nominations. Legrand won his first Oscar for the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

Don Cherry (trumpeter) American jazz trumpeter

Donald Eugene Cherry was an American jazz trumpeter. Cherry had a long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, which began in the late 1950s. Cherry was also a pioneer in world fusion music in the 1960s and 1970s.

Gary Burton American vibraphonist

Gary Burton is an American jazz vibraphonist, composer, and educator. Burton developed a pianistic style of four-mallet technique as an alternative to the prevailing two-mallet technique. This approach caused him to be heralded as an innovator, and his sound and technique are widely imitated. He is also known for pioneering fusion jazz and popularizing the duet format in jazz, as well as being a major figure in music education from his 30 years at the Berklee College of Music.

Dave Holland British musician

Dave Holland is an English jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader who has been performing and recording for five decades. He has lived in the United States for over 40 years.

Milcho Leviev was a Bulgarian composer, arranger, and jazz pianist.

The Warsaw Concerto is a short work for piano and orchestra by Richard Addinsell, written for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight, which is about the Polish struggle against the 1939 invasion by Nazi Germany. In performance it normally lasts just under ten minutes. The concerto is an example of programme music, representing both the struggle for Warsaw and the romance of the leading characters in the film. It became very popular in Britain during World War II.

Ian Carr was a Scottish jazz musician, composer, writer, and educator. Carr performed and recorded with the Rendell-Carr quintet and jazz-rock band Nucleus, and was an associate professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He also wrote biographies of musicians Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis.

John Valmore Pearson was a British composer, orchestra leader and pianist. He led the Top of the Pops orchestra for sixteen years, wrote a catalogue of library music, and had many of his pieces used as the theme music to television series.

Gato Barbieri Argentine jazz musician

Leandro "Gato" Barbieri was an Argentine jazz tenor saxophonist who rose to fame during the free jazz movement in the 1960s and is known for his Latin jazz recordings of the 1970s. His nickname, Gato, is Spanish for "cat".

Piero Piccioni Italian lawyer and film composer (1921-2004)

Piero Piccioni was an Italian lawyer and film score composer.

Euan Lloyd was a British film producer.

Geoffrey Love, known as Geoff Love, was a prolific British arranger and composer of easy listening and pop versions of film themes. He became famous in the late 1950s, playing under the pseudonym of Manuel and The Music of The Mountains.

Riz Ortolani Italian film composer (1926-2014)

Riziero "Riz" Ortolani was an Italian film composer. Ortolani scored over two-hundred films working mostly within the Italian genres of Mondo, Giallo, and the Spaghetti Western. Ortolani also scored many Hollywood films and has had some of his compositions reused in films like Drive and Django Unchained. Ortolani's most famous composition is More, which he wrote for the infamous film Mondo Cane. It won the 1964 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Theme and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 36th Academy Awards. The song was later covered by Frank Sinatra, Kai Winding, Andy Williams, Roy Orbison, and others.

Alexander Lafayette Chew Wilder was an American composer.

Laurence Reginald Ward Johnson, is an English composer and bandleader who has written scores for dozens of film and television series and has been one of the most highly regarded arrangers of instrumental pop and swing music since in the 1950s with works often serving as stock production music.

Trevor Ramsey Tomkins is an English jazz drummer best known for his work in a number of British bands in the 1970s, including Gilgamesh.

Gordon James Beck was an English jazz pianist and composer. At the time of his death, 26 albums had been released under his name.

Don Sebesky is an American jazz trombonist, keyboardist and arranger.

Howard Riley (musician) British musician

John Howard Riley is an English pianist and composer, who worked in jazz and experimental music idioms.

Jimmy Dale was a British-born Canadian arranger, composer, conductor, organist, and pianist. He was active as a music director for both Canadian and United States television during the 1970s and 1980s. He has also composed several film and television scores and written a number of TV theme songs and jingles. He has also worked as an arranger and pianist for both performances and recordings with several notable artists.


  1. 1 2 "Roy Budd Get Budd:The Soundtracks Review". BBC - Music. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 Ankeny, Jason. "Roy Budd". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. "Roy Budd; Pianist and Composer, 46". The New York Times. 10 August 1993.