Colin Towns

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Colin Towns
Birth name Colin William Towns
Born (1948-05-13) 13 May 1948 (age 67)
West Ham, London, England
Genres Jazz, Progressive rock, Classical, Heavy metal, Hard rock, Soft rock
Occupation(s) Musician, Composer, Producer, Arranger
Instruments Keyboard, Piano, Guitar, Bass guitar, Vocals
Years active 1976–present
Associated acts Ian Gillan Band
Mask Orchestra

Colin William Towns (born 13 May 1948 in West Ham, London) is an English composer and keyboardist. He was noted as playing in bands formed by ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, and later worked extensively in composing soundtracks for film, television and commercials. Learning piano as a child, by the age of 13 he was earning money playing at weddings and birthdays in his neighborhood of the East End of London. He went on to play in numerous dance bands, jazz ensembles and also became a session musician.


In 1976 he was recruited as keyboardist to replace Mickey Lee Soule in the Ian Gillan Band. Over the time he developed an increasing interest in composing, and Gillan credits the Towns-penned 'Fighting Man' as pointing the direction in which Gillan should go. Gillan dissolved the band, with its jazz-rock leanings, and retained only Towns, putting together the rockier Gillan. Encouraged by Gillan, Towns co-wrote many of the songs for the new band. Whilst with the band he used his free time to seek opportunities to compose music beyond the Heavy metal direction of Gillan, including releasing a solo album, Making Faces, in 1982. He submitted a demo soundtrack for the 1977 Mia Farrow-starring film Full Circle, which received reviews praising the music.

In 1982, Towns played with the Spanish rock band Barón Rojo, when they recorded Volumen Brutal.

In 1983, Ian Gillan dissolved the band, and Towns decided to pursue soundtrack composing full-time. In that year he won the commission to write the score for the film Slayground. From then on he was in constant demand, particularly in British television, where his body of work is prolific, and includes Chiller, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, The Buccaneers, The Crow Road, Dalziel and Pascoe, Ghostboat, Rockface, Into the Blue, The Blackheath Poisonings, Bodyguards, Cadfael, Clarissa, Capital City, Noah's Ark, Pie in the Sky, The Beggar Bride, Our Friends in the North, Between the Lines, Mobile, Cold Blood, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, Doc Martin, Half Broken Things, Foyle's War, Ivanhoe, Hot Money, Deceit and Imogen's Face.

He also composed the music for the popular children's animation series Angelina Ballerina as well as several other animation series and films for children including The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends, The Story Store, Truckers, The Willows in Winter, The Wind in the Willows, The Tale of Jack Frost, Oi! Get Off our Train, Toot and Puddle, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Sandman and Faeries.

His other film credits include Rawhead Rex (1986), Bellman and True (1987), Vampire's Kiss (1989, starring Nicolas Cage), Getting It Right (1989), The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1989), The Puppet Masters (1994, featuring Donald Sutherland), Captives (1994, featuring Tim Roth), Space Truckers (1996, featuring Dennis Hopper), Guest House Paradiso (1999), Essex Boys (2000), Man Dancin' (2003), Crimson Rivers II: Angels of the Apocalypse (2004), and Red Mercury (2005). Towns' principal musical passion is jazz and has released several albums in this genre and founding the Mask Orchestra. Several times he has worked for the German director Claudia Garde for the TV-series Tatort.

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