Even if you've never heard Shirley Walker's name, you've heard her work: she orchestrated and conducted the scores to the first Danny Elfman Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Hans Zimmer's Backdraft, and many others. She scored all three Final Destination movies, the remake of Willard (for which the director asked her to write "nerdy" music), and John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. and Memoirs of An Invisible Man. She also was one of the most distinctive television composers of the past two decades, scoring and supervising Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, The Flash, and the SF actioner Space: Above and Beyond, among many others. (That's the second time I've written "Many others." She was all over the place. She was prolific.)
Her composing career never reached the level I felt she was capable of reaching; Film Score Monthly's Lukas Kendall sometimes vented on her behalf that Walker wouldn't get assignments because her music sounded (as at least one producer she worked for said) "just like what a man would write!" Yeah, Mr. Producer Man, and your point is? People missed out by not hiring her; she was (by all accounts) a happy, geeky person. And a wife and mother; I don't want to imagine what her family is feeling now.
While writing this, I listened to Shirley's score to the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Waiting on the CD turntable is Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Waiting on my CD rack is Escape From L.A., a score I especially love.
Damnit. World? Forces That Be? Stop so much death. Please.
Edited To Add: I found a Film Score Monthly piece (Feb. '03) by Jeff Bond about the recording of Shirley Walker's score to Willard, and I wanted to share a moment from it:
Shirley Walker has just finished listening to six accordions rip through their parts in the main-title cue... She takes a large, black rubber rat from her conductor's stand and waves it over the surrounding orchestra musicians. "Excellent playing, excellent playing," she says. "Ben is happy."Second Edit: How could I forget these? She was a session musician on Apocalypse Now. She orchestrated and co-composed The Black Stallion. Oh yeah, you've been hearing her music and her touch since the Seventies.