Paul Buckmaster, legendary string arranger, dies.
November 9, 2017 1:45 PM   Subscribe

If you think about Rock and Pop songs with great strings there's a good chance you're thinking about the work of Paul Buckmaster who died Nov. 7 2017. If you don't know the name you almost certainly know his work.

Perhaps most famous for his body of work with Elton John, making up a big part of what people think of as the EJ sound, including "Tiny Dancer" "Levon" "Your Song" and many full albums.

The list of his great work is too long to recreate, but here's some highlights to start you off;

David Bowie "Space Oddity"
Train "Drops of Jupiter"
Dwight Yoakum "Aint That Lonely Yet"
Carly Simon "You're So Vain"
The Rolling Stones "Moonlight Mile"

As well as the score to "12 Monkeys"

More background and interviews.
posted by bongo_x (18 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
What a great discography, and "Landed" is one of my very favorite songs.

posted by 4ster at 2:21 PM on November 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by brujita at 2:50 PM on November 9, 2017


Thanks for the post, I had no idea.
posted by Duffington at 3:10 PM on November 9, 2017

It's not always acknowledged in his professional biographies, but Buckmaster was also a member of the sui genesis and subtlety influential psychedelic early music collective Third Ear Band in the late 60s and early 70s. Here he is, on stage with them, opening for The Rolling Stones in London's Hyde Park in 1969.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:50 PM on November 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

posted by gyusan at 3:53 PM on November 9, 2017

posted by Songdog at 4:44 PM on November 9, 2017

The Jayhawks, "Blue"
posted by entropicamericana at 4:54 PM on November 9, 2017 [7 favorites]

I know, I know, "Space Oddity", but this too.


posted by droplet at 5:26 PM on November 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I first heard his string arrangements on Elton John's Madman Across the Water; most of the tunes, but, perhaps most memorably, the title track. Throughout, lifting and framing Elton and Bernie's tunes. A great arranger.


posted by the sobsister at 6:41 PM on November 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I first became aware of who he was with Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” and only learned of his work with Elton John later. If possible, I love his arrangements almost more than the songs themselves.

posted by lhauser at 7:25 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wow, what a great artist.

posted by jabo at 7:29 PM on November 9, 2017

Oh goodness, he did Counting Crows' I'm Not Sleeping! That's a song I love off of an album I love!
posted by hippybear at 7:47 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

More than for anything mentioned above (which indeed includes some classics), for introducing Miles Davis to the music of Stockhausen, and for the influence he had as an arranger/conductor of Miles’s 1972 album On the Corner, which a) has an incredible cast of characters, and b) was hated by many people at the time (who didn’t know any better). I didn’t know much myself, but I’ve always loved it.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:05 PM on November 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

On the Corner is a wonderful album, indeed.
posted by Chitownfats at 11:13 PM on November 9, 2017

For a good chunk of my 1970s teen years I was a giant Elton John fan, and so a giant Paul Buckmaster fan.
posted by pracowity at 12:57 AM on November 10, 2017

posted by How the runs scored at 3:11 AM on November 10, 2017

posted by filtergik at 4:17 AM on November 10, 2017

Wow, I had no idea. So many of these songs I absolutely LOVE - Madman Across the Water, Blue, Ain't that Lonely Yet...just wow. Thanks so much for this post.

I always thought that George Martin was the key to the Beatles, & the 1st post-Beatle efforts of former Beatles, and that's what opened my eyes to the magicians in the background.

Goes back to my gut instinct all along: for stuff you like, look on the periphery, because it can't be as good as it is without those people.
posted by yoga at 5:40 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

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