Jack Nitzsche

HOLLYWOOD--Rock musician, arranger and Oscar-winning composer Jack Nitzsche died here August 25, 2000, following cardiac arrest brought on by a recurring bronchial infection. He was 63. MSTies may remember his very first Hollywood composing job, the movie in episode 523- VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS. He also conducted the orchestra in that film.

Born Bernard Nitzsche on April 22, 1937, in Chicago, he was a well known rock musician and producer. A young talent scout named Sonny Bono gave Nitzsche his first job in the music industry when he co-wrote the Searchers' 1964 hit song "Needles and Pins." He later arranged many of the songs produced by Phil Spector, including the Crystals' "She's a Rebel" and Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." Nitzsche worked with the Rolling Stones during the 1960s, playing keyboards on such tracks as "Let's Spend the Night Together," "Play With Fire" and "Paint It, Black." He also worked as a session man and producer for Neil Young over several decades, beginning with the 1967 Buffalo Springfield song "Expecting to Fly." He was a member of the Stray Gators, the backing band on Young's biggest selling album, "Harvest." He also worked with artists as varied as Tim Buckley, Leon Russell, Ry Cooder, Tom Petty, The Monkees and Glen Campbell.

His film music work included the 1970 Mick Jagger movie "Performance," "The Exorcist" "Starman," "One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest," (for which he was nominated for an Oscar), "Stand By Me," "The Indian Runner" and "The Crossing Guard."

In 1983, he shared the Best Original Score, along with Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings, for "Up Where We Belong," the theme to "An Officer and a Gentleman." Nitzsche was married to Sainte-Marie for a time.

Nitzsche struggled with drugs for many years, which led to run-ins with the law--one of which was reportedly featured on the reality TV show "Cops."