Legendary pianist and keyboardist recollects his impressive career as a studio musician performing in thousands of Hollywood film scores and his many collaborations with John Williams from 1969 until 2001, including his unforgettable playing on Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Very few musicians can compare to the versatile and incredibly prolific career of Ralph Grierson. A legend among studio musicians, Grierson has graced a great number of performances and recordings (including thousands of film soundtracks) thanks to his talent on a wide variety of keyboard instruments, from traditional piano and harpsichord to the most advanced synthesizers, playing across genres and styles including classical music, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, contemporary and avant-garde.

Born near Vancouver, Canada, Grierson began studying music since a very young age. In 1968 he settled in Los Angeles, establishing parallel careers as a studio musician for TV and film (playing all the electronic keyboard instruments and also piano, organ, and harpsichord) and as an interpreter of contemporary music. With Michael Tilson Thomas he made the first recording of Stravinsky's own four-hand piano reduction of The Rite of Spring

Grierson also appeared on a handful of Grammy-nominated albums: Palm Leaf Rag, and the follow-up album, Magnetic Rag, both with the Southland Stingers (a group formed by some of the finest Hollywood studio musicians conducted by) and both containing music by Scott Joplin; and ‘S Wonderful, a collection of George Gershwin’s tunes for piano duet performed together with Artie Kane (a legendary studio musician himself who often performed for John Williams).

He first worked with John Williams on The Reivers (1969), a score that would then became the Maestro’s first Academy Award nomination as Best Original Score—and the work that would pick the attention of a then-very young up-and-coming director named Steven Spielberg. From that moment, Grierson worked on almost every John Williams score recorded in Los Angeles until 2001, a total number of 46 scores. He can be heard playing in iconic scores such as Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial—he’s the pianist on the unforgettable piano solo heard in the film’s end credits.

rierson performed piano, synthesizer and keyboards in many other classic scores by the Maestro including The Cowboys, The Towering Inferno, Family Plot, 1941, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Witches of Eastwick, The Accidental Tourist, Always, Stanley and Iris, Home Alone, just to name a few (often performing in a keyboard section that included other legendary talents such as Artie Kane, Mike Lang, Clare Fischer, Chet Swiatkowski and Ian Underwood).

Over the course of his 30+ years career as studio musician, Grierson performed on literally thousands of film and television scores, playing for every top Hollywood film composers and includes some of cinema’s biggest hits such as E.T., Titanic, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Matrix. Ralph also appeared as the piano soloist (both on screen and on the soundtrack recording) in the segment of "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin in Disney’s Fantasia 2000

n this wide-ranging, in-depth candid conversation, Ralph talks about his incredible life and career as studio musician in Hollywood and his collaborations with John Williams on many film scores as pianist and keyboardist, recalling his work on Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Ralph also recalls some of his other career’s highlights, including his work with the late James Horner and his soloist work for Disney’s Fantasia 2000. He also opens up about the career-altering injury he faced in 2002 and how his life changed since then. 

For more information and the list of musical excerpts featured in the episode visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/08/26/ralph-grierson-podcast/

Legendary flutist discusses his life as a studio musician recording hundreds of film and television scores over 30+ years, including his many collaborations with John Williams in scores such as The River, Jurassic Park and Memoirs of a Geisha

Jim Walker is one of the most talented and celebrated flutist of our times. From classical to jazz to television and film to the concert hall, Walker has brilliantly showcased his incredible musicianship for 50+ years.

In his incredibly prolific career as a studio musician, Jim Walker has performed in hundreds of film and television scores. His first major prominent part was assigned to him by John Williams in 1984—the composer picked Walker as soloist for the Academy Award-nominated score of The River, directed by Mark Rydell and starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek. Since then, he's been part of the flute section in virtually all of John Williams’s recordings in Los Angeles until 2008, including some of Williams’s biggest hits such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Home Alone, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List. Walker can also also be heard as soloist/1st flute in scores such as Amistad, The Patriot, Catch Me If You Can and Memoirs of a Geisha.

His versatility and incredible dexterity was appreciated by some of Hollywood’s top film composers including Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Elmer Bernstein, Randy Newman, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, and his playing can be heard in box office hits such as Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Finding Nemo, but also beloved classics like Awakenings, Edward Scissorhands, Cocoon.

In this in-depth conversation, Jim talks about his musical life, from his upbringing in Kentucky to his arrival in Los Angeles as the Principal Flute of the LA Phil and his work as a studio musician for films and television scores. He talks extensively about his many collaborations with John Williams, including his soloist work on The River and Memoirs of a Geisha, but also the very challenging parts he had to perform in scores such as Hook and Jurassic Park, offering his own detailed look on Williams’s music as seen from the performer’s unique point of view.

For more information and the full list of musical excerpts featured in the episode, visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/08/07/jim-walker-podcast

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