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Ray Colcord

  • Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, New York
Date of passing: 
February 05, 2016

Obituary

Ray Colcord was a musician and composer whose career ranged from classic rock & roll recordings and live stage productions to numerous films and hundreds of hours of television. He was an active member of the Television Academy for many years, and he earned an Emmy nomination for the theme he wrote for the comedy series Singer & Sons.

Colcord was involved in music early on, touring with a professional boy's choir, the Columbus Boychoir, of which composer Van Dyke Parks was also an alumnus. As part of the choir, he performed in many famous venues with orchestras that included the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and a seven-week stint at Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Show.

In high school Colcord formed a band, the Deuces Wild, which was notable for dressing alike. In 1967 he enrolled at Rice University in Houston, where he pursued pre-law studies. At the time he had hair to his waist, Nixon was president, the war in Vietnam was raging and most of his classmates had never been outside the state of Texas. After much unpleasant interaction with the student body, he left Rice to tour with Roy Head, a Texas R & B singer with several national hits ("Treat Her Right" and "The Green Grass of Home"), and worked his way back to New York City, where he was hired as an A & R executive by Columbia Records in 1970.

Ray Colcord was a musician and composer whose career ranged from classic rock & roll recordings and live stage productions to numerous films and hundreds of hours of television. He was an active member of the Television Academy for many years, and he earned an Emmy nomination for the theme he wrote for the comedy series Singer & Sons.

Colcord was involved in music early on, touring with a professional boy's choir, the Columbus Boychoir, of which composer Van Dyke Parks was also an alumnus. As part of the choir, he performed in many famous venues with orchestras that included the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and a seven-week stint at Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Show.

In high school Colcord formed a band, the Deuces Wild, which was notable for dressing alike. In 1967 he enrolled at Rice University in Houston, where he pursued pre-law studies. At the time he had hair to his waist, Nixon was president, the war in Vietnam was raging and most of his classmates had never been outside the state of Texas. After much unpleasant interaction with the student body, he left Rice to tour with Roy Head, a Texas R & B singer with several national hits ("Treat Her Right" and "The Green Grass of Home"), and worked his way back to New York City, where he was hired as an A & R executive by Columbia Records in 1970.

While working for Columbia, he was the first A & R exec to hear Aerosmith audition, and convinced the label chief Clive Davis to sign the future superstars. He was the second person to hear Bruce Springsteen's demo tapes, after John Hammond Sr. brought them in. He was unsuccessful in convincing Davis to sign Bonnie Raitt or Jim Croce.

In 1972 Colcord left CBS to produce Aerosmith's second album, Get Your Wings, and to tour as a keyboard player with Lou Reed, with whom he played on two live albums. He also played on the classic Don MacLean album American Pie, amid many other sessions. In 1973 he moved to Los Angeles to work for United Artists records.

In 1976 he became the music director and keyboard player for the Groundlings, the acclaimed Los Angeles-based comedy group. For the next 10 years he wrote all of the group's musical material and performed with Groundlings members as Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), Laraine Newman, Edie McClurg, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), and many others. He was also music director of An Evening at the Improv during its first season. During this time, Colcord began scoring cable and syndicated shows and working on network shows.

In the ensuing years, Colcord wrote themes and underscore for more than 700 primetime episodes, including series such as Family AffairLost at HomeBoy Meets WorldBig Brother 2 & 3Promised LandDinosaursThe Facts of Life227My Two DadsWhere I LiveHiller & DillerTrial & ErrorSilver SpoonsTouched By an AngelThe Simpsons and more.

Additionally, he scored films, starting with The Devonsville Terror in 1982 and continuing on through The Sleeping CarWish Upon a Star, The Paper Brigade, Amityville Dollhouse, Off Your Rocker, Heartwood and The King's Guard. He also contributed additional music to Tomb Raider II, The General's Daughter, Dumb & Dumber, Casper, Double Impact, Maxie, Deep Impact and Unconditional Love.

In addition to his Emmy nomination, his other professional accolades included both ASCAP and BMI awards, Dramalogue awards and various other acknowledgements of his work.

Colcord taught the course Music Production for Film and Television at UCLA Extension, and he was active in several professional associations. In addition to serving as president of the Society of Composers & Lyricists, he was founder and president of the Composers and Lyricists Legal Aid Society, a member of the board of directors of the Film Music Society and a member of the American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Musicians Association, the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors and the American Association of Music Arrangers and Composers.

For the Television Academy, Colcord served two terms as a governor of the Music peer group, and he was involved in several committees, including the Website, Governors Award Selection, Activities, Budget Review and Primetime Awards committees. In addition, he was an editorial advisor for emmy magazine.

Colcord died February 5, 2016, in Studio City, California. He was 66.

 

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