floats from the foot of a man sitting at a bench
. . . a diver slowly descends into the deepest depths on the planet . . . a cartoon alien
shows himself to a small girl . . . a Delorian
breaks the eighty-eight miles per hour barrier and is thrown through time to 1955
. All of these classic movie
scenes have one thing in common; they were made one hundred times better because of the music that accompanied them. Alan Silvestri is one of the most revered, most sought out, and most talented composers alive. Alan Silvestri's music sucked me in the first time I saw 'Back to the Future
'. He has a way of making music in such a way that each movie he composes for has an individual catch
, but yet remains distinctly Silvestri-esque.
Alan Silvestri the person was born in New York on a balmy March 26th day, 1950. Of Irish and Italian descent, young Alan actually grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey; not New York as many people believe. Alan had a very normal childhood, and wasn't even born into a musical family. What he did do however, was find music on his own, at the age of four when he took up drumming. Later on in highschool, our hero taught himself to play multiple instruments: clarinet, bassoon, baritone and alto sax, woodwinds, and guitar; all in additon to the drums! His highschool years is also when he started to dabble in the writing of music, as opposed to just playing it. At this time, Alan's time was split evenly between the music and his other love, baseball.
Halfway through highschool, his focus shifted from wanting to write more music than to simply play it. However, he wasn't sold on the idea of writing music as a profession. His true love was jazz. He wanted more than anything to become a guitar (more specifically a bebop guitar player) in a band. He persued that over composing after his graduation from highschool when he enrolled in the Berklee School of Music. Berklee was very jazz orientated and the twenty something Alan fit right in. He immediately joined a band as a bebop guitar player and enjoyed living out his dream. His stay at Berklee was a short one, as he left after only two years attendence. He wanted to travel the country, playing music and live life on the road. He did just that when he moved to Las Vegas and joined the band, Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders. The Riders were right up Alan's musical alley, even if the shows were a little low brow for the domesticated Silvestri. All while his traveling and playing, he continued to hone his writing craft.
Out of highschool, on his own, and already in a band the young Silvestri was ready for something more. He knew something had to happen, or he would be forced to return home in disgrace. This is when the Alan Silvestri we know and love started to take shape. While in Vegas, Alan joined a new band as a composer/guitarist. This new band was popular in the underground scene and soon snatched up by a record producer. The band quickly signed up for a lengthy yet lucrative contract with this mystery man. However, it was not to be and was a quick lesson in the 'business' when the check signed to the band bounced. The band traveled to the city of angels in order to buy back the contract and regain control over their lives. They did just that, but they found themselves in Los Angeles without a penny to their name and without a place to go. Alan used a connection in Mike Jarrett (no relation to Jeff Jarrett, the professional wrestler), to secure safety in the large city. Silvestri more or less quit the band as Jarrett offered Alan his big break; scoring a movie. Alan quickly agreed and without prior compisition experience, made the score for 'The Doberman Gang'. For a kid with no experience in scoring movies, he did quite well for himself.
After the movie gig was up, the 22 year old Silvestri moved onto the small screen with a job writing the score for uber-cop show 'Starsky & Hutch'. This is widely considered Alan's biggest learning curve of his career, because he had never composed for a full orchestra before. He quickly adapted and went on to enjoy high levels of success on 'Starsky' as well as another cop show 'CHiPS'. When 'CHiPS' was suddenly cancelled, Alan went through a rather lengthy dry spell of unemployment. It was Michael Douglas that would be his savior . . . go figure.
Not working for a couple of years, it seemed only fitting that a movie would be his re-birth, given that his debut was a movie not so long ago. 'Romancing the Stone' was having musical issues, and nary a composer could be found. The director, Robert Zemeckis, loved his work and with the producer/lead actor Michael Douglas's approval, hired Alan for the job. This pairing of Zemeckis and Silvestri would prove to be arguably the best director/composer duo of all time. I tend to agree with this statement. After 'Romancing the Stone' movie offers still came slow in for the still very young (At least for his profession was concerned. He was 21 when he first scored a film. Incredible!) 'Cat's Eye', 'Fandango' (Not the Grim kind either . . . ), and 'Back to the Future' were the next three movies for Alan. 'Back to the Future' would greatly change all of this however, as its brilliant and innovative score elevated both the movie overall and Silvestri to megastar levels. The movie was a blockbuster, and the score made Silvestri a double Grammy nominated composer. In addition to the nominations, this launched his career into the stratosphere as a main event star. The offers came pouring in, and the subsequent movies that Silvestri did were huge. 'Clan of the Cave Bear', 'Predator', 'Back to the Future II and III', 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit', and 'Father of the Bride'. His next film of note was the huge blockbuster 'Forrest Gump'.
'Gump' changed Silvestri's career in the same way that 'Back to the Future' did so many years earlier, it made him into a bigger and more sought after superstar than before. The 'Gump' score is my favorite score ever, and when you listen to it, you will see why. This is the score that simply put, made Alan's career concrete. Because of this movie, his legacy will live on long after he has retired from his work.
Alan the family man is something that isn't widely documented, yet it is very important to him. Like many people involved in Hollywood who are off the screen or out of the limelight, Alan prefers his family life to be just that, family life. He married his wife Sandra in 1978, and have been married ever since. He leads a normal life with his family, which now consists of himself, his wife Sandra, and his son Joey. His out of music interests include wine making, flying, baseball, and an active interest in the education of the public about Diabetes. His son Joey was born with type-1 juvenile Diabetes and because of this they helped to form the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, with the intention to help cure and educate about Diabetes. What a guy!
Alan Silvestri is good at what he does. He is good at composing really good music for whatever the film may be, and it shows. Whether it be sci-fi, horror, comedy, drama, mystery, suspense, whathaveyou . . . Alan can make it come alive through music. He is a modern master of sound, and I salute this musical genius.
Sources: http://www.imdb.com, http://www.bttf.com/silvestr.htm, and http://www.ascap.com/filmtv/2002/silvestri.html.