Composer, Greig McRitchie dies at 83
Orchestrated many scores for TV, pix

December 23, 1997


Composer Greig McRitchie, who became a well-known film and TV orchestrator with film credits including "Dances With Wolves," died Dec. 23 of a heart attack at his home in Studio City. He was 83.

During his career, McRitchie orchestrated for many well-known film composers including Jerry Fielding, Dave Grusin, Bill Conti and Randy Edelman.

Film credits included "The Wild Bunch," "Straw Dogs," "Broadcast News," "Conan the Barbarian," "Free Willy," "The Color Purple" and "Starship Troopers."

As a composer, McRitchie wrote the music for the TV series "You Asked For It." During the 1970s and 1980s he penned incidental music for numerous TV shows including "Charlie's Angels," "Dynasty," "Falcon Crest," "Starsky and Hutch," "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." He also wrote music for commercials including Shasta Cola.

In 1986 he won the BMI award for his television music, and in 1997 was presented with a career achievement award by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers.

Born Sept. 28, 1914, in Alameda, McRitchie graduated from Berkeley and later supported himself by playing trumpet for big bands in San Francisco. He eventually joined the staff of NBC radio in San Francisco as an arranger and moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s to pursue studio work.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Barbara, a son and two grandsons.

and from the defunct

Greig McRitchie


It is not easy to refer to our dear friend Greig McRitchie in the past tense-yet we must, for he died peacefully just before Christmas, 1997, at the age of 83. He was our mentor and musical guide since our little band was re-established over twenty-five years ago.

He contributed some two hundred compositions and arrangements, working closely with the band and Dave Fulmer-experimenting, challenging, joking, and inspiring us individually and as an ensemble. It was he who established our unique sonorous sound, and his arranging skill was phenomenal. We will miss his physical presence always-but his spirit and his musical genius will live on as long as Mr. Jack Daniel's Original Silver Cornet Band has the opportunity to perform for you. Each time we play "Moore County Toodle-Oo" or "Tennessee Squire Dance" or his beautiful arrangement of "Amazing Grace," we'll be thinking fondly of Greig. We hope you will too.

Thanks, Greig.

Greig McRitchie's long and colorful career saw him successful in every musical medium. As a performer, young Greig was considered a trumpet prodigy in his hometown of Alameda, California, and at Berkeley's University of California Music Department. After the war, he spent a fifth year studying composition with Darius Milhaud. He was also tutored by Arnold Schoenberg at UCLA.

Greig orchestrated well over a hundred major motion pictures for such directors as Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Walter Hill, Sam Peckinpah, Clint Eastwood, and Kevin Costner. Some of the films enriched by his orchestrations are THE COLOR PURPLE, AN AMERICAN TALE, GLORY, FIELD OF DREAMS, STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK and THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER.

His scores have been nominated six times for Oscars, and won the top award for DANCES WITH WOLVES.

In addition, Mr. McRitchie was active in broadcasting for many years: First with NBC Radio, and then as composer-arranger for "Dynasty", "Hotel" and "Charlie's Angels" on TV. His recording career included orchestrations for Alfred Newman and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra on five albums; ten albums for Roger Wagner with many different international orchestras in London, Paris and Vienna.

Usually backed up with two or three film commitments at any one time, Greig somehow found time to continue his tasteful and engaging compositions and arrangements for Mr. Jack Daniel's Original Silver Cornet Band. He referred to the unique little twelve-piece ensemble as his 'hobby'. Working closely with Dave Fulmer since the band's restoration began in 1972, Greig composed and arranged its library of over two hundred selections, and is responsible for the distinctively rich sound of the band today.