Legacy Content

USC School of Music Pays Tribute to Buddy Baker
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by Doug Marsh
September 30, 2003
Doug reports on the September 28th tribute to Buddy Baker by the USC Thornton School of Music.

USC Thornton School of Music presents
A Musical Tribute to Buddy Baker: Songs, Stories and Memories
Sunday, September 28, 2003, 3:00pm
University of Southern California
Bing Theater

Buddy Baker

Buddy Baker, like so many of the creative artists at Walt Disney Productions, produced his greatest works in near anonymity. From 1954 to 1983 he wrote or scored virtually every Disney TV program, numerous feature films, and beloved theme park attractions. After retirement, he continued to consult with Disney. He joined the faculty of USC, and before his passing was instrumental in building the USC Thornton School of Music Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program into one of the best of its kind in the country.

On Sunday, September 28 Buddy Baker was honored with a Musical Tribute that brought together friends, fans, professional colleagues, and students. It was a joyous occasion, organized by his wife Charlotte and David Spear. Following the Tribute, a special Buddy Baker Memorial Exhibit opened with a reception in the Alfred Newman Recital Hall Gallery on campus.

Bob Moline

The tribute opened with a performance of “Golden Dream? by its composer, Bob Moline. Bob accompanied himself on guitar in the moving rendition of the theme song from The American Adventure in Epcot. He first spoke of his friendship with Buddy, and praised his beautiful arrangement of the song. After the performance, Bob reminded the audience, “Whenever you are in Epcot and hear ‘Golden Dream,’ think of Buddy.?

Joe Harnell and the USC Saxophone Quartet were next on the program, with a three movement piece entitled “Screen Themes Suite.? The three movements were ‘Tango for Two Left Feet,’ “The Lonely Man from The Incredible Hulk,’ and ‘Main Title from V.’ Joe shared between the movements about his long friendship with Buddy. They met in 1973 when Buddy hired Joe as a pianist for “The Fox and the Hound.? (Buddy Baker received an Academy Award nomination for his score for “The Fox and the Hound.) Now in his 14th year on the USC faculty, Joe shared fond memories of Buddy’s regular lunches at the Smokehouse. The Screen Themes Suite was dedicated to Buddy Baker.

The USC Chamber Choir next joined the Quartet for a spirited rendition of “Grim Grinning Ghosts.? Lending their talents to the performance were Yuri Inoo, percussion, Greg Swiller, bass, David Spear, piano, and legendary drummer Louis Bellson. The song was a real crowd pleaser. The arrangement was by Buddy Baker himself.

The USC Chamber Choir performs “Live Every Day? by Louis Bellson

A sacred song was next on the program. “Live Every Day? was composed by Louis Bellson, who studied composition with Buddy. The song’s simple message-Live every day/With love in your heart/And He will protect your soul? was beautifully complemented by the lovely composition, well performed by the choir.

Pianist Wini Beatty brought a change of pace to wind up the first half of the program. Her original composition, “Blues for Buddy,? was written for his 80th birthday party. Wini played and sang the song, accompanied by Louis Bellson on drums and Greg Swiller on bass. Wini Beatty was one of Buddy Baker’s favorite piano players, and their shared affection was obvious in her warm lyrics that just about told Buddy’s whole life story. In rhyme!

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