Rob Hubbard

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Rob Hubbard
Hubbard in 2023
Hubbard in 2023
Background information
Born1955 (age 68–69)
Kingston upon Hull, England
GenresVideo game music, Chiptune
Occupation(s)Composer, programmer
Years active1985–1996, 2004–present

Rob Hubbard (born 1955[1][2] in Kingston upon Hull,[3] England) is a British composer best known for his musical and programming work for microcomputers of the 1980s, such as the Commodore 64.

Early life[edit]

Hubbard first started playing music at age seven. Whilst at school he played in bands. After leaving school, he went to music college.[4]

Early career[edit]

In the late seventies, before scoring games, he was a professional studio musician. He decided to teach himself BASIC and machine code for the Commodore 64.[5]

Music on the Commodore 64[edit]

Hubbard subsequently wrote or converted music for a variety of publishers on over 75 games between 1985 and 1989 such as Monty on the Run, Crazy Comets, Master of Magic and Commando. Some of his most popular tunes include also Warhawk, Delta, Thrust, Lightforce, Spellbound, Sanxion, Auf Wiedersehen Monty and International Karate. The game Knucklebusters includes Hubbard's longest tune: a 17-minute opus. Hubbard has mentioned his personal favourites are Kentilla, W.A.R. and Sanxion. His least favourite was Samantha Fox Strip Poker, which he admitted to having done purely for money; he was listed in the game credits with the alias John York.[3] He has stated that he had many musical influences including Jean Michel Jarre, Larry Fast and other synth bands.[6]

Hubbard mainly composed for the Commodore 64's SID sound chip. He worked freelance and turned down offers from companies to work in-house.[4]

Move to Electronic Arts and the United States[edit]

After working for several different companies, he left Newcastle in 1988 and had the choice to work for Electronic Arts or Microsoft. Hubbard chose EA due to their prominence in the gaming industry as Microsoft had (as yet) no gaming platform. His work with EA Electronic Arts in America was as a composer.[4] He was the first person devoted to sound and music at EA and did everything from low-level programming to composing.[7] One of his most famous compositions during his period at EA, is the music featured in the loading sequence of the Commodore 64 version of Skate or Die, which features multiple sampled chords of electric guitar and organ. Playback of samples was facilitated by exploiting a feature in the SID sound-synthesizer chip: altering the volume register produces an audible click, and altering the register thousands of times per second enables a relatively crude (but surprisingly clear and sophisticated for eight-bit computers) form of sample playback.[8] He eventually became Audio Technical Director,[9] a more administrative job, deciding which technologies to use in games, and which to develop further.

After the Commodore 64 period, he wrote some soundtracks for games which appeared on the Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC and Mega Drive.

Recent activities[edit]

Hubbard recently[when?] contributed a few re-arrangements of his themes to Chris Abbott's C64 tribute Back in Time Live. Hubbard has performed several times with the Danish C64 cover band PRESS PLAY ON TAPE[10] who have covered many of his early tunes using a full rock-band arrangement. Hubbard has also performed his old music on piano with the support of violinist and fellow chiptune composer Mark Knight.

Hubbard left EA in 2002 and returned to England.[11] He has recently resumed playing in a band, and he has revisited his past game-music work in concert. His recent compositions have included music for mobile-phone games.

In 2005, music from International Karate was performed live by a full orchestra at the third Symphonic Game Music Concert. The event took place in Leipzig, Germany. Hubbard arranged and orchestrated the piece.[12]

In 2014, Hubbard appeared in and composed music for the documentary feature film From Bedrooms to Billions, a film that tells the story of the British video games industry.

In November 2016, Hubbard received an honorary degree from Abertay University for his contributions to video-game music in the 1980s.[13]


Year Title Notes
1985 Commando[14] based on theme from Commando arcade game by Tamayo Kawamoto
Rasputin[15] features traditional Russian songs
Monty on the Run[14] partially based on Devil's Galop[12] by Charles Williams
Thing on a Spring[16]
Confuzion[16] Cover of the song "Confuzion" by the band Private Property which was also on side B of the game cassette.
Crazy Comets[14] Inspired by New Order and funk music.[17]
Master of Magic[19] partially based on "Shibolet" from the Synergy album Audion
The Last V8[20]
Action Biker[16]
Formula 1 Simulator[21]
Hunter Patrol[22]
One Man and His Droid[18]
Battle of Britain
Harvey Smith Showjumping
Up, Up and Away cover of a song by The 5th Dimension
1986 Deep Strike
Bump Set Spike
Gerry the Germ[14]
Proteus based on two separate songs from John Keating's album Space Experience ("The Unknown Planet" and "Space Agent")
Warhawk[23] the same song as "Proteus", just an intro added
Lightforce [24] He was paid £750 for the tune according to the developers (equivalent to £2324 in 2020) which they claim was an absolute bargain.
Geoff Capes Strongman Challenge
Samantha Fox Strip Poker[25] credited as John York because as he said "[it] was such a cheesy title and they wanted that cheesy lame music along with it - I didn't want to admit that I did it just for the money".[26] Contains "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin and "The Stripper" by David Rose
Tarzan Based on the theme from 1960s TV show "Tarzan"
Zoids[27] based on the track "Ancestors" from the Synergy album Audion
Flash Gordon[28]
Hollywood or Bust Covers of "12th Street Rag" by Euday L. Bowman and "Dill Pickles Rag" by Charles L. Johnson
Human Race[20]
Phantoms of the Asteroid[29]
Chicken Song From the TV show Spitting Image
Video Poker contains "Easy Winners" by Scott Joplin
Knucklebusters Hubbard's longest composition, lasting 17 minutes[30]
International Karate[28] parts are a pastiche of Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Forbidden Colours" from "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"
Sanxion in addition to Hubbard's famous loader song,[24] this contains "Dance of the Knights" from Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet"
1987 Jet Set Willy Atari 8-bit version
BMX Kids the sampled voice saying "Go!" is actually Hubbard himself![18]
Saboteur II
Sigma 7 Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze
Thanatos Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze
Arcade Classics
I-Ball inspired by "Whip Blow" and "I Want You" by Cabaret Voltaire[5]
Shockway Rider
Auf Wiedersehen Monty with Ben Daglish[31]
Chain Reaction
Mega Apocalypse Re-arrangement of "Crazy Comets"[32]
Nemesis the Warlock[33]
Bangkok Knights
IK plus (International Karate plus)
Dragons Lair Part II[18]
Star Paws[34]
Delta The title song borrows few bars of melody from the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack by Philip Glass. Also inspired by Pink Floyd[3]
Trans Atlantic Balloon Challenge
Goldrunner contains the same song as "Human Race"
1988 19 Part One: Boot Camp an interpretation of Paul Hardcastle's "19"[35]
Jordan vs. Bird: One on One
Kings of the Beach
One-on-One 2
Power Play Hockey
Skate or Die![36]
Pandora Based on the main theme from Dune
1989 688 Attack Sub[37]
Budokan: The Martial Spirit[37]
Indianapolis 500: The Simulation
Keef the Thief
Kings of the Beach
Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs
1990 Low Blow
Ski or Die[37]
The Immortal
John Madden Football
Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble
1991 PGA Tour Golf
Road Rash with Michael Bartlow[38]
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf with Brian L. Schmidt
1992 Road Rash 2 with Don Veca and Tony Berkeley
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel[38]
John Madden Football '93
1993 NHL '94
1994 NHL '95 with Russell Lieblich
1996 The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Rose Tattoo
2014 From Bedrooms to Billions
2018 Go Go Dash


  1. ^ ZZAP! 64, October 1985
  2. ^ Happy Computer, July 1986
  3. ^ a b c "For the best in C64 nostalgia". Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "For the best in C64 nostalgia". Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  8. ^ "SID Music". 6 April 2008.
  9. ^ "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Rob Hubbard & Chris Abbott (Gremlin/EA) - Interview". 26 October 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Abertay announces honorary graduates". Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d "Profile - The Master of Micro Music". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Commodore User Magazine Issue 31". 25 April 1986. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  16. ^ a b c "View a Scan". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Profile - The Master of Micro Music". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Profile - The Master of Micro Music". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  20. ^ a b "Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Redirecting".
  22. ^ "Redirecting". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Commodore User (November 1986) Reviews - Amiga Magazine Rack".
  24. ^ a b c "Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  25. ^ a b Sheppard, Gary "Dominoid" (21 October 2017). "Legendary Game Composer Rob Hubbard to be Immortalised in Book, Game, and Album Form". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  26. ^ "C64.COM - For the best in C64 nostalgia". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  27. ^ "Profile - The Master of Micro Music". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Computer game music's orchestral revamp". 28 September 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  29. ^ "ZZap!64 Magazine Issue 012". April 1986.
  30. ^ "Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Ben Daglish | RETRO GAMESMASTER". 12 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  33. ^ "Issue 26". Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  34. ^ "CVG Magazine Issue 071". 25 September 1987. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  35. ^ "CRASH 56 – 19 Part One: Boot Camp". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  36. ^ "An Interview with Rob Hubbard". Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  37. ^ a b c "The EAvolution of Rob Hubbard - part 2, 1989–1990". 16 October 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  38. ^ a b "The EAvolution of Rob Hubbard - part 4". 21 October 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2020.

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