Gerald Fried was the first composer I ever interviewed, back in 1974. I had been a huge fan of his work on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and he gave me a wonderful half-hour. He went on to collect an Emmy for the landmark miniseries Roots and even greater fame for his iconic Star Trek battle music (and his silly stuff for Gilligan’s Island, which he later confessed to me generated his biggest royalty stream because it reruns constantly everywhere in the world). He was a highly articulate, very witty and super-talented composer who could write in any genre. Here is my obituary, with a detailed look at his career, for Variety.
The upcoming L.A. stop on the national tour of Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage, a two-hour concert of Trek music commemorating the franchise’s 50th anniversary, offered an opportunity to examine the long history of Star Trek scores and the many composers who contributed along the way, from Alexander Courage to Jerry Goldsmith. Comments by veteran composers Gerald Fried, Dennis McCarthy and Jay Chattaway, along with concert conductor Justin Freer and even William Shatner himself, are included in this Sunday Los Angeles Times piece.
On Saturday, I took part in “The Golden Anniversary Affair,” a celebration of the 1960s spy-series classic The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in Culver City, Calif. I moderated the afternoon music panel, featuring Lalo Schifrin and Gerald Fried (Robert Drasnin was unable to attend), and both produced and hosted a special, one-time-only evening concert of music composed for the series.
I chose 14 tunes (Jerry Goldsmith and Schifrin music from the first season, Fried and Drasnin from the second and third seasons), found most of the original charts from the 1964-66 recording sessions, and worked with six great L.A. jazz musicians in two rehearsals to get the music just right. Their rendition of Goldsmith’s romantic theme, “Meet Mr. Solo,” gave me chills, and their performance of Lalo’s Latin tunes like “Roulette Rhumba” were lively and colorful. Fried’s noirish “Lament for a Trapped Spy” and Drasnin’s cool-jazz number “Basic Black” were other highlights for me. It was an unforgettable night (the audience of 100 dyed-in-the-wool U.N.C.L.E. fans really loved it). My old friend Bob Short prodded me to do this and I’m so glad we did.