It is with deep sadness that I report the passing of my dear friend, Ray Colcord. It was Ray who insisted that I follow in his footsteps as President of the Society of Composers & Lyricists. He served our membership with distinction, calling upon his wit, intelligence and knowledge of his chosen profession to elevate the organization to new heights and prestige within the large community here and abroad.
To say that Ray was courageous, would be a gross understatement, as his valiant battle with pancreatic cancer over four years, not only defied all odds, it redefined to all who knew him what the words courage and determination truly mean. During most of those four years we were running companions, with Ray, even in his weakened condition, always the winner as he truly is today. Participating in several LA marathons was always one of his most prized accomplishments.
As a composer, his work on such classic series as Boy Meets World, The Facts of Life, My Two Dads, 227, Big Brother2 &3, Family Affair, Lost at Home, Dinosaurs, Promised Land, Silver Spoons, Hiller and Diller, Touched by an Angel and Where I Live among countless others set the bar high for all of us working in the profession. His music for those series continues to play around the world. He was particularly proud of his work on the movie, Heartwood, where he was able to employ Elmer Bernstein sensibilities with his own beautiful gift for melody and textures. It was no coincidence that he was able to convince Elmer to take a position on the ASCAP board, of which Ray was a proud member for several decades. Ray’s passion for composers’ rights was unparalleled and his tireless work to try to achieve equality in the greater entertainment community with collective bargaining was admired by all of his peers. His tenure as Governor of the Television Academy yielded among many things, the recognition of Earle Hagen and a night celebrating the art of the television theme song. Other highlights from his community service included serving on the board of the Film Music Society and the Film Preservation Society, as well as memberships in Musicians Union, Local 47 and SAG.
In his early career Ray had the opportunity to tour with the renowned Columbus Boys Choir and later with hit recording artist, Roy Head as an accomplished keyboardist. This led to a coveted position of A&R at Columbia Records where he performed on the seminal album, American Pie with Don Maclean and was the first to hear Aerosmith and convince Clive Davis to sign them. He left Columbia to produce their second album and then went on tour with Lou Reed as a keyboard player. His diverse career went on to include time as music director and keyboardist for an Evening at the Improv and the Groundlings, a celebrated Los Angeles comedy group.
Ray achieved what all of us dream of—going out on top. Through his close friend and champion, Michael Jacobs, Ray was still writing music for Michael’s hit series, Girl Meets World up until his final days. He leaves his loving wife, Maddie and talented son, Alex, who lived through the good and bad times, but never faltered in their devotion to this creative and passionate soul. I am better for having known Ray Colcord and cherish these last few years of watching this heroic figure that was the exemplary role model for all who knew him.