Jack Nitzsche

Composer
Oscar-winning composer Jack Nitzsche's trademark eyeglasses won him the nickname 'Specs', while his memorable and groundbreaking film scores and earlier work as an arranger on some of popular music's most legendary ... Read more »
Born: 04/21/1937 in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Filmography

Music (57)

Easy A 2010 (Movie)

("Symphonies") (Song)

CSNY: Deja Vu 2008 (Movie)

("Shakey Pictures Fanfare") (Song)

Grindhouse 2007 (Movie)

Main Title Theme("The Last Race") (Theme Music)

Grindhouse 2007 (Movie)

("The Last Race") (Song Performer)

Grindhouse 2007 (Movie)

("The Last Race") (Song)

RV 2006 (Movie)

("Needles and Pins") (Song)

Yours, Mine & Ours 2005 (Movie)

("Up Where We Belong") (Song)

The Lizzie McGuire Movie 2003 (Movie)

("Up Where We Belong") (Song)

Moulin Rouge 2001 (Movie)

("Up Where We Belong") (Song)

The Crossing Guard 1995 (Movie)

(Music)

Blue Sky 1994 (Movie)

(Music)

Middle Ages 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Music

The Indian Runner 1991 (Movie)

(Music)

Mermaids 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

Revenge 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

The Hot Spot 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

The Last of the Finest 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

Next of Kin 1989 (Movie)

(Music)

The Seventh Sign 1988 (Movie)

(Music)

Starman 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Music

9 1/2 Weeks 1986 (Movie)

(Music)

Stand By Me 1986 (Movie)

(Music)

Streets of Gold 1986 (Movie)

(Music)

Stripper 1986 (Movie)

(Music)

The Whoopee Boys 1986 (Movie)

(Music)

Jewel of the Nile 1985 (Movie)

(Music)

Starman 1984 (Movie)

(Music)

The Razor's Edge 1984 (Movie)

(Music)

Windy City 1984 (Movie)

("Hit and Run Lovers") (Song)

Windy City 1984 (Movie)

(Music)

Breathless 1983 (Movie)

(Music)

Without a Trace 1983 (Movie)

(Music)

An Officer and A Gentleman 1982 (Movie)

("Up Where We Belong") (Song)

An Officer and A Gentleman 1982 (Movie)

(Music)

Cannery Row 1982 (Movie)

(Music)

Personal Best 1982 (Movie)

(Music)

Cutter's Way 1981 (Movie)

("We're Old Enough to Know") (Song Performer)

Cutter's Way 1981 (Movie)

(Song)

Cutter's Way 1981 (Movie)

(Music)

Cruising 1980 (Movie)

(Music)

Melvin and Howard 1980 (Movie)

("Gone Dead Train") (Song)

Hardcore 1979 (Movie)

(Music)

Heart Beat 1979 (Movie)

("I Love Her Too") (Song)

Heart Beat 1979 (Movie)

(Music)

Blue Collar 1978 (Movie)

("Hard Workin' Man") (Song)

Blue Collar 1978 (Movie)

(Music)

When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? 1978 (Movie)

("No One Knows Better Than You") (Song)

When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? 1978 (Movie)

(Music Arranger)

When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? 1978 (Movie)

(Music)

Heroes 1977 (Movie)

(Music)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 1975 (Movie)

Original Music Composer (Original Music)

The Exorcist 1973 (Movie)

Additional Music Composed by (Music)

Greaser's Palace 1971 (Movie)

songs (Song)

Greaser's Palace 1971 (Movie)

(Music)

Performance 1970 (Movie)

songs("Wake Up Niggers" "Gone Dead Train" "Rolls Royce and Acid" "Harry Flowers" "Natural Magic" "Performance" "Poor White Hound Dog" "Turner's Murder" "Get Away" "Powis Square" "The Hashishin" "Dyed, Dead, Red") (Song)

Performance 1970 (Movie)

(Music)

Village of the Giants 1964 (Movie)

(Music)
Sound (3)

Scary Movie 2 2001 (Movie)

(Boom Operator)

Blank Check 1994 (Movie)

(Boom Operator)

Biography

Oscar-winning composer Jack Nitzsche's trademark eyeglasses won him the nickname 'Specs', while his memorable and groundbreaking film scores and earlier work as an arranger on some of popular music's most legendary recordings made him a highly regarded if not widely known name in both the film and music industries.

The Chicago-born and Michigan-raised Nitzsche landed in Los Angeles as a young man looking to study at Westlake College of Music, and quickly jumped into the business, soon meeting up with Sonny Bono at Specialty Records. The two would go on to pen the hit single "Needles and Pins", recorded successfully by The Searchers and Jackie DeShannon. Nitzsche worked as an arranger for Phil Spector in the mid-1960s, helping to make the producer's vision of a "wall of sound" a groundbreaking reality. Responsible for memorable innovations from integrating complex handclaps into The Crystals' rocking recording of "He's a Rebel" to the sweeping orchestration of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby", Nitzsche crafted arrangements that made him an unheralded revolutionary of popular music, perfecting rock and roll symphonization to create elaborately layered pop songs without ending up with a sonic muddle. He worked on hits by Bobby Darin, The Righteous Brothers and The Monkees among others, and arranged Spector albums including "Hits of the Beatles" (1964) and Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" (1966). As a musician, Nitzsche had a moderate hit of his own with the instrumental "The Lonely Surfer", the title track of his 1963 solo album, a song brought back into fashion during the mid-90s surf rock revival. He produced the Buffalo Springfield album "Expecting to Fly" in 1967, where he began an association with the band's guitarist Neil Young. When Young embarked on a solo career, Nitzsche went on to play piano in his backing group Crazy Horse, also working with the band as a composer and arranger. He additionally produced Young's first album "Crazy Horse". Nitzsche did the rock rounds in the 1960s, also playing piano and percussion on several Rolling Stones albums, and arranging the choir accompaniment to their 1969 hit "You Can't Always Get What You Want". He has continued to work as a record producer throughout his career.

1965 saw Nitzsche score his first film, the panned teen sci-fi feature "Village of the Giants". Providing a heavily-orchestrated pop soundtrack, with a similar feel to Brian Wilson's "Pet Sounds" work and later Beatles albums, the score for this largely unmemorable movie would prove a turning point for his career and even for film composing as a whole. Busy in the music world, Nitzsche didn't return to the big screen until 1968 when he scored "Performance", one of the most innovative and influential movie scores of its day. (It was delayed from public ears for two years while studio politics kept the film shelved.) The strangeness of this extraordinary rock-themed melodrama starring Mick Jagger, was enhanced by Nitzsche's perfectly unpredictable music, incorporating bottleneck guitar with more offbeat instruments like the mouth bow and dulcimer. He next did the score for Robert Downey's "Greaser's Palace" (1972), and added additional music to "The Exorcist" (1973). While only three minutes in length, Nitzsche's contribution to the film's score was the only music specifically written for the movie, the eerie sustains marked the bridges and transitions in the film, enhancing the haunted feeling. In 1975, Nitzsche did some of his most unforgettable work as composer for Milos Foreman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". His use of unsettling bowed saw instrumentation, with painfully clear arrangements evinced both the agitated inmates and the insidious sterility of the institution, arguably adding more of Kesey's novel to Foreman's staging than had been present in the script. In 1978, the composer used evocative machinery sounds and employed the vocals of Captain Beefheart in his score for Paul Schrader's "Blue Collar", a story of auto workers duped by their own union. Before his successful spate of more mainstream fare in the 1980s, Nitzsche scored William Friedkin's controversial "Cruising" (1980), starring Al Pacino as an undercover police officer seeking out a serial killer preying on homosexuals. Resisting requests to turn in a suspenseful action adventure score, Nitzsche instead opted for a song heavy soundtrack, enlisting the help of seminal punk band The Germs whose work captured the dark side of the downtown underworld.

While his early 80s work in films such as "Cutter's Way" (1981), "Personal Best" and "Cannery Row" (both 1982) was capable and appropriate, it lacked some of the spark of his previous scoring, and was entirely overshadowed by the great success of 1982's "An Officer and a Gentleman", a score for which Nitzsche was nominated for an Oscar. While he lost out to John Williams for "E.T.", the composer did walk away with a Best Song statue for the film's hit theme "Up Where We Belong", co-written with his former wife Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings. A heart-wrenching score for Stanley Jaffe's compelling missing child drama "Without A Trace" (1983) followed this success, and also notable are his 1984 scores for the melodrama "The Razor's Edge" and John Carpenter's sci-fi romance "Starman", marking one of the infrequent times the director didn't score a film himself. Nitzsche's score for the beloved "Stand By Me" (1986), was outstanding, capturing the boys' (and the film's) boisterousness and uncertainty. That same year he composed the music for, as well as appearing in a bit part in, the otherwise forgettable "The Whoopee Boys". Additional credits include "Streets of Gold", "Nine 1/2 Weeks" (both 1986), and the spooky "The Seventh Sign" (1988).

While his prolific film score work would win him fame, critical acclaim and an Academy Award, the innovation displayed in his 70s scores was far more evident in his 90s work, his contribution to less mainstream films offering not only more artistic freedom but also winning him prestige and a cult following. A favorite among Hollywood's hipster elite, Nitzsche was hired to score Dennis Hopper's "The Hot Spot" (1990) and composed an impressive experimental jazz score, performed by such notables in the field as John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis. Sean Penn enlisted Nitzsche's help for his 1991 directorial debut "The Indian Runner" and subsequently procured the composer's services for his follow up "The Crossing Guard" (1995).

Relationships

Grace May

Wife
divorced

Jack Nitzsche

Son
born in March 1960 mother. Grace Ann May

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Wife
born in 1941 married in March 1981 had son from previous marriage divorced co-wrote "Up Where We Belong"

Carrie Snodgress Actor

Companion
Nitzsche was arrested for assaulting her in the 1970s

EDUCATION

Westlake College of Music

Los Angeles , California

Howard City Elementary and High School

Michigan 1943 - 1955

Milestones

1995

Reteamed with Penn to score "The Crossing Guard"

1994

Wrote the music for the acclaimed drama "Blue Sky" (filmed in 1990)

1991

Scored Sean Penn's directorial debut "The Indian Runner"

1990

Wrote an experimental jazz score for Dennis Hopper's "The Hot Spot", enlisting such superstars as Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker

1986

Composed the exceptional score for Rob Reiner's "Stand By Me"

1984

Wrote the memorable scores for the melodrama "The Razor's Edge" and the sci-fi romance "Starman"

1982

Composed the music for the film "An Officer and a Gentleman"; co-wrote the Oscar-winning hit theme "Up Where We Belong" with Buffy Sainte-Marie

1981

Wrote the score and performed the song "We're Old Enough to Know" for "Cutter's Way"

1980

Incorporated songs by the punk band The Germs into his score for the controversial "Cruising"

1975

Scored "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

1973

Added three minutes of original music to the score of "The Exorcist", the only music specifically written for the film

1972

Scored Robert Downey's "Greaser's Palace"

1968

Composed the score of the rock melodrama "Performance" (released 1970), starring Mick Jagger

1967

Began association with Neil Young when he arranged and produced Buffalo Springfield's "Expecting to Fly"

1965

Debut as film composer with the score of the teenage sci-fi movie "Village of the Giants"

1962

Worked as an arranger on Phil Spector's seminal "wall of sound" recordings, including "Hits of The Beatles" (1964) and Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" (1966)

1959

Worked with Sonny Bono as an arranger at Specialty Records

1957

Relocated to Southern California to attend Westlake College of Music

With Bono, co-wrote "Needles and Pins", a hit for The Searchers and later for Jackie DeShannon

Arranged and played piano and percussion on several Rolling Stones recordings, including "Out of Our Heads" (1965), "Aftermath" (1966), "Let It Bleed" and "Sticky Fingers" (1971)

Joined Young's backing group Crazy Horse as composer/arranger/pianist, also produced their first album "Crazy Horse"

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