John Beal (composer)

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John Beal
Official photo: Composer John Bea
Born Santa Monica, California
Occupation Conductor, composer, producer, musician, marine
Years active 1956–
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1966–1972
Rank USMC-E5.svg
  • (Vietnam War)
  • Op. Napoleon-Saline
  • Op. Lancaster Ii
  • Op. Scotland Ii
  • Op. Rice
  • Op. Kentucky
  • Op. Scotland Ii/Nanking
  • Op. Dawson River
  • Op. Dewey Canyon
  • Op. Marshall Mountain
  • Op. Dewey Canyon
  • Op. Purple Martin
  • Op. Maine Craig
  • Op. Montana Mauler
  • Op. Ellis Ravine
  • Op. Task Force Remagan
  • Op. Virginia Ridge
  • Op. Herkimer Mountain
  • Op. Apache Snow
  • Op. Cameron Falls
  • Op. Utah Mesa
  • Op. Arlington Canyon
  • Op. Williams Glade
  • Op. Idaho Canyon
  • Op. Georgia Tar

John Beal (born in Santa Monica, California) is a veteran American film composer and conductor working in Hollywood, California. He has composed the music for numerous television series, such as Vega$, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Eight Is Enough and films such as The Funhouse and Terror in the Aisles. He is also a composer of film trailer music and works with the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra.[1]

Early life[edit]

John Beal was born in Santa Monica, California, raised in La Cañada Flintridge, California,[2] graduated from John Muir High School (Pasadena, California), where he was honored for having written many of the drum cadences for the school's internationally renowned Drum Corps, many of which are still used more than 50 years after his graduation. He was named to their Hall of Fame in 2008.[3] In the 1976 Rose Parade, the UCLA Marching Band added his cadence "JB" into their repertoire[4] He attended San Diego State University and, after being decorated for heroism and bravery in combat with the United States Marine Corps, he attended UCLA. He studied percussion with William Kraft and Bernie Mattinson, and drums with Irv Cotler (drummer for Frank Sinatra), composition with Harry Partch scholar Danlee Mitchell, synthesizers with Clark Spangler, and film scoring with Dominic Frontiere, George Duning, Buddy Baker, Fred Werner, Eddy Lawrence Manson and Earle Hagen.[5] In his early film career, and like many of the young composers of the day, he ghost wrote the scores for numerous major motion pictures and hit television shows and orchestrated and supervised the recording sessions for many others.[6][7]


Beal's first instrument was piano at age 6. He was a professional soloist in a boys choir at age 8 and a professional drummer on stage and in the recording studio by age 10. After his highly decorated service with the United States Marine Corps, he returned to Hollywood as a musical director and arranger with recording stars Olivia Newton-John (in her U.S. debut), B. B. King, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, and for many television variety shows ranging from Ed Sullivan to The Carpenters Make Your Own Kind of Music, The Captain & Tennille Songbook and John Wayne's Emmy Award-winning Sing Out Sweet Land, to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Beal was also the conductor and arranger for the vocal groups The Establishment, The Kids Next Door, The Nabors Kids, The King Cousins, and The Doodletown Pipers, and worked on stage in Las Vegas and on the showroom circuit with such icons of the day as Phyllis Diller, Perry Como, Raquel Welch, Mitzi Gaynor, Leslie Uggams, Jim Nabors, Sally Struthers, Peggy Fleming, Frankie Avalon, and Ed Ames.

Beginning in the late 1970s, he composed original music for numerous hit television series, including Vega$ with Robert Urich, Eight Is Enough with Dick Van Patten and Betty Buckley, Happy Days with Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, Laverne & Shirley with Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, Goodtime Girls with Annie Potts and Georgia Engel, Legmen with Bruce Greenwood and John Terlesky, and Chicago Story with Dennis Franz and Craig T. Nelson. His feature films included Zero to Sixty (1978) starring Darren McGavin and Joan Collins, The Man with Bogart's Face (1980) starring Robert Sacchi and Franco Nero, The Funhouse (1981) from director Tobe Hooper, Terror in the Aisles (1984) starring Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen, and Killer Party (1986) starring Sherry Willis-Burch.[8]

At the suggestion of Gary LeMel (President, Worldwide Music for Warner Bros.), Beal was tapped by Hollywood's marketing guru and "Godfather of Trailers," Andrew J. Kuehn of Kaleidoscope Films (Jaws and other major hit films) to work with him in the film trailer industry.[9] Kuehn and Beal collaborated on the very inception of today's modern film trailer format and Beal has long been recognized as the man who gave contemporary trailers their musical voice.[10][11] Beal has composed original scores for over 2,000 trailers.[12][13] His list of major studio credits includes campaigns for such hit films as JFK, Titanic, The Matrix, Forrest Gump, The Last Samurai, Aladdin, the Star Wars trilogy, The Hunt for Red October, True Lies, In the Line of Fire, Patriot Games, The Mask of Zorro, Black Rain, Ghost, Finding Neverland, and hundreds more.[14] Daily Variety box office results show the financial success of film campaigns to which he contributed original music is literally measured in hundreds of billions of dollars.[15]

Other projects[edit]

Working with one of his mentors, Buddy Baker, and the Walt Disney Imagineering Team led by Marc Davis, John Beal composed and arranged music for the Carousel of Progress and America Sings rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World (Orlando),.[16][17] He was also the music director for live stage acts during the opening of Walt Disney World in Florida and the musical conductor for the park's grand opening ceremony television presentation on NBC.[18] According to his official bio, Beal composed original music for Gentle Jungle and Enchanted Village theme parks. Beal also composed and produced the music for commercials from Apple, NASDAQ, Ben & Jerry's, AMGEN, Dr. Pepper and many other major advertisers.[19]

John Beal served as the General Manager and Producer of the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra for its debut concerts in the Los Angeles area, and as its television producer.[20] Beal is President of Reeltime Creative, a company that consults for and produces motion picture creative advertising ranging from film trailers to posters to web sites.[21]

Select film trailers[edit]

Some of the well-known film trailers for which John Beal wrote original scores between 1977 and 2007 cover a wide range of styles: Titanic, We Were Soldiers, The Last Samurai, Finding Neverland, Star Wars, Aladdin, The Matrix, Mean Girls, Planet of the Apes, Batman Beyond, Alaska, Being John Malkovich, Black Beauty, Black Hawk Down, Black Rain, The Bodyguard, Braveheart, Casualties of War, Chaplin, Clear and Present Danger, Conspiracy Theory, Cruising, Dead Again, Donnie Brasco, Fallen, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, First Blood, Flight of the Intruder, Ghost, Hamlet, Heathers, The Hunt for Red October, JFK, The Mask, The Mask of Zorro, Medicine Man, Miracle on 34th Street (1994), Mortal Kombat, Mr. Mom, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Nothing in Common, Patriot Games, Quiz Show, Regarding Henry, Rising Sun, The Santa Clause, The Scarlet Letter (1995 film), Steel Magnolias, The Toy, True Lies, Volcano, When a Man Loves a Woman, Working Girl, Payback, Tea with Mussolini, Police Academy, Indecent Proposal, Encino Man, Anaconda, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nine to Five, Revenge, Bicentennial Man, Eraser.[22]


According to his official biography, Beal is a former Governor of the Composers & Lyricists Guild of America (CLGA), former National Trustee and Governor of the Los Angeles Chapter of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards),[23] an active member the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmy Awards),[24] The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing,[25] is a Platinum member of the Society of Composers & Lyricists,[26] ASCAP,[27] Veterans in Film and Television and the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers.[28][29][30]

Military service[edit]

Beal served in the United States Marine Corps and was trained as a specialist in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare (Weapons of Mass Destruction). Sergeant Beal fought in Vietnam as a door gunner on a Huey gunship, earning his Marine Corps Combat Air Crew Wings and fighting in more than 200 combat missions and 24 major counter-insurgency operations against the North Vietnamese Army in Khe Sanh, Con Thien, Lao Bảo, Dong Ha and the A Shau Valley.[31] He received the Combat Action Ribbon along with 8 Air Medals for bravery[32] and was awarded a Single Mission Air Medal with Bronze Star for heroism during the rescue of a severely wounded Marine reconnaissance team near Hamburger Hill in the A Shau Valley on April 11, 1969. According to the citation for the award, after a serious firefight with an overwhelming force near Lao Bảo earlier in the day, Beal's crew refueled and came upon the trapped recon team. Surrounded by enemy fire, the Marines were struggling to drag their wounded up the extremely steep and muddy mountain to an accessible area, but were taking fire from all sides and nearly out of strength. The citation continues that due to his "unwavering tenacity in the face of withering enemy fire," all five Marines were saved.[33] Beal was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V for Valor for his service to Vietnamese refugees near the DMZ who had fled mass genocide by the North Vietnamese Army in the North[34] in recognition of his dedication in helping to build schools, provide medical care and protect the civilians,[35] and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross and Vietnam Civil Actions Medal from the government of the Republic of Vietnam. Other medals include the Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Vietnam Service Medal and RVN Vietnam Service Medal.[36]

Military awards and decorations[edit]

Silver star
Gold star
Gold star

Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

Expert marksmanship badge for rifle Expert marksmanship badge for pistol

Articles and books[edit]

  • The Emerging Film Composer book by Richard Bellis, 2006 pp. 136–137
  • Welcome to Heart Attack City' by John Beal, "The Score", Volume XII Number 4, Winter 1998 p. 1, (continues on p. 4) Online
  • John Beal, Musical Chameleon November 11, 1998, interview by Helene San,
  • The Modern Hollywood Composer: Interview with Composer John Beal, by Simon Barber, Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts Interview
  • The Art of Scoring Trailers: John Beal by Lukas Kendall, Part 1 - Film Score Monthly Magazine, issue #35, July 2003, pp 6–7, Part 2 continues in issue #36/Aug 37/September 1993, pp18–19 Online version
  • Art of the Tease by Rick Sherwood, Hollywood Reporter August 25, 1992 pp. S-39-S-72
  • Coming Attractions!: The two-minute film scores of John Beal by Randall D. Larson, "The Score" Cinefantastique, June 1999, Volume 31, Number 6 p. 60
  • The Oxford Student, Trailer Music
  • Movie trailer music: it's not what you think by Stephen Kelly, Guardian
  • Trailer Music Vibe: Featured Film Score Composer: John Beal
  • Disneyland 60th Anniversary: Composers share favorite Disney music memories by Mark Morton, Examiner

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Composer John Beal
  2. ^ "John Beal | John Muir High School | Pasadena, CA | is now part of - Memory Lane". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  3. ^ "John Muir High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame". 2010-11-15. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  4. ^ "History - John Muir Drum Section". Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  5. ^ "Composer Database". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  6. ^ IMDb
  7. ^ | John Beal Biography
  8. ^ IMDb
  9. ^ "Andrew J. Kuehn Biography". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  10. ^ "Everything You Wanted to Know About Scoring Film Trailers, Film Score Monthly". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  11. ^ * Art of the Tease by Rick Sherwood, Hollywood Reporter August 25, 1992 pp. S-39-S-72
  12. ^ Newman, Melinda (2010-06-02). "Daily Variety: Razor-thin copyright line". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  13. ^ Stephen Kelly (2010-08-22). "UK Guardian, Movie trailer music: it's not what you think". Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  14. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  15. ^ "Daily Variety Box Office Charts". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  16. ^ "The Disney Blog, John Beal, composed early Disney World tunes, interviewed". 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  17. ^ "This Day in Disney History". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  18. ^ The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World
  19. ^ "Composer John Beal". Composer John Beal. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  20. ^ "The Hollywood Symphony Orchestra". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  21. ^ "Reeltime Creative". Reeltime Creative. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  22. ^ "IMDB, John Beal, Other Works". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  23. ^ National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles Chapter
  24. ^ Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Music Branch
  25. ^ "Producers & Engineers Wing". Retrieved 2011-10-17. 
  26. ^ "Society of Composers and Lyricists, Platinum Members". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  27. ^ ACE/Repertory Database
  28. ^ "American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  29. ^ "About". Composer John Beal. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  30. ^ |John Beal Biography
  31. ^ "John Beal USMC Service". Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  32. ^ President of the United States, Eighth Award presented on February 18, 1970
  33. ^ President of the United States, Awarded on September 18, 1969
  34. ^ "AR: Genocide Clock". 2005-07-03. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  35. ^ Lt. H.W. Buse, Jr., Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Pacific
  36. ^ United States Marine Corps DD214

External links[edit]