R.I.P. Joel Goldsmith, 1957-2012

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    Composer Joel Goldsmith, son of Jerry Goldsmith, died tonight. I don’t know any details of how as yet.

    Joel probably could’ve broken into film scoring on the name alone, but insisted on breaking in at the bottom level, scoring such B-movies as Laserblast and Moon 44 throughout the ’80s. (and yes, we’re talking about that Laserblast – the one that saw out Comedy Central-era MST3K.) In the ’90s he get into television scoring, handling series like the short-lived remake of The Untouchables. When Jerry Goldsmith found himself hammered for time to work on Star Trek: First Contact, he brought Joel in to handle some of the “industrial” Borg cues, but Joel wound up doing about 1/3 of the film, including the pivotal scene where Cochrane’s warp ship finally launches. It was a hard sell – both Rick Berman and Jonathan Frakes balked at the idea of “paying for Jerry but getting Joel” – until the elder Goldsmith caught them off guard, playing an in-progress piece of action music they liked, and then revealing that it was one of the scenes Joel had scored.

    Within a year of First Contact, Stargate SG-1 went into production and Joel Goldsmith was hired to do the music for the pilot, even though in this case it was the almost-insulting job of simply adapting David Arnold’s music from the feature film for the TV premiere. At that point, Goldsmith was one of a number of rotating composers; by the end of the second season, he was the voice of the show, turning out surprisingly orchestral music entirely with synths and samples. He stuck around through the end of Stargate Universe, also scoring the two straight-to-DVD SG-1 movies (for which he actually had the luxury of a full orchestra for once).

    Dating all the way back to First Contact, Joel seemed to have a hard time getting labels to take him seriously for soundtrack releases; as much as he had insisted on getting into the business on his own merits. it seemed like his surname was almost working against him. The 1996 release of the First Contact soundtrack leaned heavily on material by Jerry, as the label felt customers would feel cheated if they “paid for Jerry but got Joel.” He eventually started his own label, FreeClyde, and released his own music from Stargate Continuum and Stargate: Ark Of Truth, Witchblade, and had other projects in the pipeline; he also frequently released music from his previous works through BSX Records. Witchblade was one of my favorite soundtracks for any medium in the past decade: if anything, it was better than the show.

    For all of the Hollywood treatment that could’ve left him bitter, he had a great sense of humor. The intro to his web site, freeclyde.com, states:

    This is my official website. If someone had made an unofficial website about me, I wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble to make this official website. But alas, no one did. I personally like the unofficial websites. They make the subject of the site seem more worthy. Whereas the official sites tend to be slick promotional tools for people to sell their wares and brag. I wish I had an unofficial website.

    I dislike braggarts, with the exception of a few dear friends of mine who really can’t help themselves. I’m also uncomfortable with self-promotion. In fact, I am a rather modest person, magnificently so!

    He’d show up on the forums and take things about that seriously too. I think he was just happy to have, well… fans.

    I corresponded with him all of a couple of times some time back, so I’m not going to lay any claim to being the man’s oldest friend; I had hoped to add him to the rogues’ gallery of Composers I’ve Interviewed For The Site at some point, but he was always so busy. Which is good. Being a composer who can consistently turn in quality material on time that fits the project keeps you that busy; simply having a famous last name doesn’t.

    I’ll be playing some Witchblade music again tonight in his honor.


    Ironically, I have more CDs signed by Joel Goldsmith than by any other composer (coming in at a distant second is Dennis McCarthy of Star Trek: TNG fame).

    Rather than showing off the obvious Stargate soundtracks, here are the signed booklets from his first sci-fi film score, and my favorite TV soundtrack of his. And of course he’d spent the last year or two trying to drum up interest in a release of Stargate Universe music. So much of his Stargate stuff remains unreleased that a huge box set could probably be assembled.


    Okay, didn’t see this coming: a newly released Joel Goldsmith soundtrack, complete with a “bonus disc prepared by the composer as a gift to his fans.” I’m guessing this was in the works before his death. [LINK]

    I wonder if this means there’s still a glimmer of hope for Stargate Universe.

    By the way, I heartily vouch for Buysoundtrax.com.

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