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Paul Buckmaster

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Paul Buckmaster
Background information
Birth namePaul John Buckmaster
Born(1946-06-13)13 June 1946
London, England
Died7 November 2017(2017-11-07) (aged 71)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
GenresClassical, rock, pop, social music, country, film score
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger, film composer, conductor
Instrument(s)Cello, synthesizer

Paul John Buckmaster (13 June 1946 – 7 November 2017) was a British cellist, arranger, conductor and composer, with a career spanning five decades.

He is best known for his orchestral collaborations with David Bowie, Shawn Phillips, Elton John, Harry Nilsson, The Rolling Stones, Carly Simon, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, and the Grateful Dead in the 1970s, followed by his contributions to the recordings of many other artists, including Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Rogers, Guns N' Roses, Taylor Swift, Something Corporate, Train, and Heart.

Early life


Paul Buckmaster was born in London on 13 June 1946. His father, John Caravoglia Buckmaster, was an English actor[a] and his mother, Ermenegilda ("Gilda") Maltese, was an Italian concert pianist and graduate of the Naples Conservatory of Music.[1]

At age four, Buckmaster started attending a small private school in London called the London Violoncello School, and continued studying cello under several private teachers until he was ten. In 1957, his mother took him and his two siblings to Naples, where he auditioned with cello professor Willy La Volpe, to be assessed as eligible for a scholarship. From 1958 to 1962 he divided his time between studying music in Naples and working for his GCEs in London, then won a scholarship to study the cello at the Royal Academy of Music, from which he graduated with a performance diploma in 1967.[1]



Studio work


Buckmaster displayed professional mastery as a cellist. After leading a small orchestral group during a two-month tour with the Bee Gees in 1968,[2] he started his career as an orchestral arranger on various hit songs, including David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (1969),[3][4] and contributed orchestral collaborations on a number of early albums by Elton John (1969–72), as well as on the songs "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile" on The Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers (1971). Buckmaster contributed string and horn arrangements to Leonard Cohen's 1971 album, Songs of Love and Hate.[5]

He assisted Miles Davis with the preparation of On the Corner (1972) and wrote the arrangements for the studio sessions, in which he also participated, at Davis' request, by humming bass lines and rhythms to lead the musicians. These arrangements were often used as a starting point to be transformed until what was being played bore no resemblance to what he had written. This was in keeping with the Stockhausian approach that Buckmaster and Davis had discussed in the weeks leading up to the session.[1]

Film work


As a member of Third Ear Band, Buckmaster co-wrote and performed on Music from Macbeth, the soundtrack album to Roman Polanski's film Macbeth (1972).[citation needed] Buckmaster wrote some instrumental tracks for Harry Nilsson's film Son of Dracula (1974).[6] He also played with Bowie and his band in the recordings for the original soundtrack to the science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), in which Bowie starred as Thomas Jerome Newton. Buckmaster stated in Mojo magazine's feature "60 Years of Bowie", that he had played cello on the original soundtrack recordings,[7] on which Carlos Alomar, J. Peter Robinson and others were also included:

There were a couple of medium tempo rock instrumental pieces, with simple motifs and rifly kind of grooves, with a line-up of David's rhythm section (Carlos Alomar et al.) plus J. Peter Robinson on Fender Rhodes and me on cello and some synth overdubs, using ARP Odyssey and Solina. There was also a piece I wrote and performed using some beautifully made mbiras (African thumb pianos) I had purchased earlier that year, plus cello, all done by multiple overdubbing.

—Paul Buckmaster, "60 Years of Bowie" (Mojo Classic Magazine - Vol 2 Issue 2)

Later, the film's director Nicolas Roeg decided not to use the recordings but rather existing songs as the soundtrack for the movie.[8]

In 1995 Buckmaster composed, orchestrated, conducted and produced the original score to Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys.[9] He also composed the score for the 1997 film Most Wanted.[9][10]

Personal life


Buckmaster had two siblings, Rosemary and Adrian. He married Diana Lewis in 1970; they divorced three years later. From a relationship with Rosalie Van Leer, he had a son, Banten. Buckmaster died on 7 November 2017, aged 71, in Los Angeles from undisclosed causes.[1]



Buckmaster won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for his work on American rock band Train's 2001 single "Drops of Jupiter".[11]

Selected discography

Year Artist Song Album Notes
2018 Brandi Carlile "Whatever You Do"
"Party of One"
By the Way, I Forgive You Arranger, conductor
2017 Chris Cornell "The Promise" Chris Cornell (2018) Arranger, conductor
2016 Kelly Clarkson "I Don't Think About You" Meaning of Life Arranger, conductor
2016 Max&Friends
  • "Dove c'è amore"
  • "Arrivi Tu"
  • "Acqua"
  • "Sabato Sera"
  • "Una parte del tutto"
  • "Felice"
  • "Terra mia"
Max&Friends Co-composer, arranger, conductor
2016 Idina Menzel
  • "Extraordinary"
  • "Show Me"
  • "Everybody Knows"
  • "Small World"
  • "I Do"
  • "I See You"
  • "Like Lightning"
  • "Last Time"
idina. Arranger
2016 Heart
  • "I Jump"
  • "City's Burning"
  • "Sweet Darlin"
  • "Language of Love"
Beautiful Broken Arranger
2015 The Tenors "I Remember You" Under One Sky Arranger
2014 Hunter Hayes "...interlude" Storyline Arranger, conductor
2014 Ferras feat. Katy Perry "Legends Never Die" Ferras Arranger, conductor
2013 Goo Goo Dolls "When The World Breaks Your Heart" Magnetic Arranger, conductor
2012 Ben Folds Five
  • "On Being Frank"
  • "Away When You Were Here"
The Sound of the Life of the Mind Arranger, conductor
2010 Taylor Swift
Speak Now Arranger, conductor
2009 Mika "I See You" The Boy Who Knew Too Much Arranger, conductor
2008 Guns N' Roses
Chinese Democracy Arranger, conductor
2007 The Bravery "The Ocean" The Sun and the Moon Arranger, conductor
2007 Mika "Happy Ending" Life in Cartoon Motion Arranger, conductor
2007 Katharine McPhee "Ordinary World" Katharine McPhee Arranger, conductor
2007 Michael Bublé "Lost" Call Me Irresponsible Arranger, conductor
2007 Mig Ayesa
  • "Baby I Love Your Way"
  • "Kiss From a Rose"
  • "Who Wants to Live Forever"
  • "Can't Find My Home"
  • "Life on Mars"
  • "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
Mig Arranger, conductor
2006 Ben Folds "Still" Over the Hedge (Soundtrack) Arranger, conductor
2006 New Found Glory
  • "When I Die"
  • "Boulders"
Coming Home Arranger, conductor
2006 Kenny Rogers
  • "Water & Bridges"
  • "One Life"
Water & Bridges Arranger, conductor
2006 Jesse McCartney "Invincible" Right Where You Want Me Arranger, conductor
2006 Skillet
Comatose Arranger, conductor
2006 Bianca Ryan "Awake" Bianca Ryan Arranger, conductor
2005 Bon Jovi "Wildflower" Have a Nice Day Arranger, conductor
2005 Carrie Underwood
  • "Lessons Learned"
  • "Starts With Goodbye"
Some Hearts Arranger, conductor
2005 Faith Hill "Paris" Fireflies Arranger, conductor
2005 Ben Folds "Landed" Songs for Silverman Arranger, conductor
2005 The Wallflowers "Beautiful Side of Somewhere" Rebel, Sweetheart Arranger, conductor
2005 The Darkness
One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back Arranger, conductor
2005 Nerina Pallot
  • "Geek Love"
  • "Idaho"
Fires Arranger, conductor
2004 Keith Urban
Be Here Arranger, conductor
2004 Tears for Fears "Secret World" Everybody Loves a Happy Ending Arranger, conductor
2004 Third Day
  • "Wire"
  • "It's a Shame"
Wire Arranger, conductor
2003 Train
  • "Lincoln Avenue"
  • "Your Every Color"
My Private Nation Arranger, conductor
2003 The Thorns "No Blue Sky" The Thorns Arranger, conductor
2003 Something Corporate
  • "The Runaway"
  • "Me and the Moon"
North Arranger, conductor, performer
2003 Beth Hart "I'll Stay With You" Leave the Light On Arranger, conductor
2003 Luis Miguel "Nos Hizo Falta Tiempo" 33 Arranger, conductor
2003 Live "Run Away" Birds of Pray Arranger, conductor
2003 Wilshire
  • "In Your Arms"
  • "Tonight"
New Universe Arranger, conductor
2002 Faith Hill
  • "You're Still Here"
  • "Safest Place to Hide"
Cry Arranger, conductor
2002 Tim McGraw "She's My Kind of Rain" Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors Arranger, conductor
2002 Something Corporate
  • "Punk Rock Princess"
  • "The Astronaut"
  • "Cavanaugh Park"
  • "Not What It Seems"
  • "Globes And Maps"
Leaving Through the Window Arranger, conductor
2001 Train "Drops of Jupiter" Drops of Jupiter Arranger, conductor
2002 Grammy Winner
Arrangement of the Year
2001 Elton John
Songs from the West Coast Arranger, conductor
2000 No Doubt "Too Late (Reprise)" (Hidden instrumental track) Return of Saturn Arranger, conductor
1999 Julio Iglesias Jr. Under My Eyes Arranger, conductor
1999 Tal Bachman
  • "Beside You"
  • "You're My Everything"
Tal Bachman Arranger, conductor
1999 Lara Fabian "Sola Otra Vez" Lara Fabian Arranger
1998 Des'ree "Time" Supernatural Arranger, conductor
1997 Collective Soul "She Said" Scream 2 Soundtrack Arranger, conductor,
1996 Counting Crows
Recovering the Satellites Arranger, conductor
1996 Celine Dion "Falling into You" Falling into You Arranger, conductor
1995 Elton John
Made in England Composer, arranger, conductor
1995 The Jayhawks "Blue" Tomorrow the Green Grass Arranger
1993 Dwight Yoakam This Time Arranger, conductor
1992 Lionel Richie
Back to Front Arranger, conductor
1991 Kenny Loggins
  • "Cody's Song"
  • "Too Early for the Sun"
Leap of Faith Arranger, conductor
1991 Lloyd Cole Don't Get Weird on Me Babe Arranger, conductor
1985 Mick Jagger "Hard Woman" She's the Boss Arranger, conductor
1983 Nick Heyward North of a Miracle Arranger[12]
1983 Stevie Nicks "Beauty and the Beast" The Wild Heart Arranger, conductor
1981 UFO "Profession of Violence" The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent Arranger, conductor
1978 Elton John A Single Man Arranger, conductor
1977 Grateful Dead Terrapin Station Arranger, conductor
(side two)
1976 Elton John Blue Moves Arranger, conductor
1975 Thijs van Leer O My Love Arranger, conductor
1974 Miles Davis "Ife" Big Fun Arranger, conductor
1974 Carly Simon "Haven't Got Time for the Pain" Hotcakes Arranger, conductor
1974 Angelo Branduardi Angelo Branduardi Arranger, conductor, producer,
1973 Elton John
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player Arranger, conductor
1973 Shawn Phillips "Lady of the Blue Rose" Bright White Arranger, conductor
1973 Blood, Sweat & Tears No Sweat Arranger, conductor
1972 Miles Davis On the Corner Arranger, conductor,
electric cello
1972 Carly Simon "You're So Vain" No Secrets Arranger, conductor
1972 Harry Nilsson "Spaceman" Son of Schmilsson Arranger, conductor
1971 Elton John
Madman Across the Water Arranger, conductor, musical director
1971 Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers Arranger, conductor
1971 Chitinous Ensemble Chitinous Ensemble Musical director, electric piano, cello
1971 Leonard Cohen Songs of Love and Hate Arranger, conductor
1971 Harry Nilsson "Without You" Nilsson Schmilsson Arranger, conductor
1971 Elton John
  • "Variations on "Friends" Theme"
  • "Variations on Michelle's Song"
  • "I Mean To Do My Work Today"
  • "Four Moods"
Friends Arranger, conductor,
musical director
1971 Rupert Hine Pick Up a Bone Arranger,
electric cello
1970 Elton John Tumbleweed Connection Arranger, conductor, musical director
1970 Elton John
Elton John Arranger, conductor, musical director
1970 Shawn Phillips "F Sharp Splendor" (instrumental) Second Contribution Arranger,
musical director, keyboards
1970 Mick Farren "Mona, The Whole Trip" Mona – The Carnivorous Circus Solo cello
1970 Arrival
  • "Friends"
  • "I Will Survive"
Arranger, cello
1970 Michael Chapman "Aviator" Fully Qualified Survivor Solo cello
1969 Kevin Ayers Joy of a Toy Solo cello
1969 David Bowie Space Oddity Arranger, conductor, cello
1969 The Bee Gees "Odessa (City on the Black Sea)" Odessa Cello

Explanatory footnotes

  1. ^ John Caravoglia Buckmaster (1914–1995) should not be confused with English actor John Rodney Buckmaster (1915–1983), the son of Gladys Cooper. John C. Buckmaster—son of actor-manager Charles Buckmaster, of Italian ancestry—started out as a young actor in the 1930s. During WWII, he enlisted in the London Scottish regiment, where he served with Bruce Copp, also an English actor. John C. Buckmaster saw action in North Africa, then north into Sicily and finally in and around Naples, during late 1943 and early 1944. There he met a young concert pianist, Ermenegilda ("Gilda") Maltese (1918–1989), during a production of Madama Butterfly at the newly restored San Carlo Opera House. They married on 15 August 1945 and, after the war, made their home in Earl's Court, London.[13]: 67–69  They had three children: Paul, Rosemary, and Adrian. John C. Buckmaster continued to have small acting jobs until 1989. In 1994, he moved to Sydney where he died on 9 March 1995.


  1. ^ a b c d Sweeting, Adam (19 November 2017). "Paul Buckmaster obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. ^ Marble, Steve (9 November 2017). "Paul Buckmaster, arranger for Bowie, Elton John and the Rolling Stones, dies at 71". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  3. ^ Lanz, Michelle (16 May 2016). "Inside the rock star's studio with music arranger Paul Buckmaster". Southern California Public Radio. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ Cole, George (30 September 2010). "Elton John, the Beach Boys and the fine art of pop alchemy". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  5. ^ Sylvie Simmons, 2012, I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, pp. 234–235.
  6. ^ "Son Of Dracula (Soundtrack)". Harrynilsson.com. April 1974. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Paul Buckmaster". The Times. 15 November 2017. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  8. ^ Browne, David (8 November 2017). "Paul Buckmaster, Essential Arranger for Bowie and Elton, Dead at 71". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b Genzlinger, Neil (15 November 2017). "Paul Buckmaster, 71, Arranger on Hits by Bowie and More, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Paul Buckmaster - Most Wanted (Soundtrack From The Motion Picture)". Discogs.com. 1997. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  11. ^ Morgenstein, Mark (16 May 2016). "Drops of Jupiter / Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  12. ^ "North of a Miracle – Nick Heyward". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  13. ^ Copp, Bruce (2015). Out Of The Firing Line... Into The Foyer (hardcover). Stroud: History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-6134-9.