The Sultans of SID: #16: Fred Gray

Our sixteenth SID sultan of our Advent Calendar

From yesterday, our little clue was:

Another one of the Commodore scene’s amazing Grays.

Our sixteenth Sultan of SID is…

Fred Gray

A lucky break at Imagine Software’s original Liverpool HQ saw Fred Gray become the company’s in-house composer. A friend of his, Tim Best, saw what Fred did on a VIC20 and he landed the job as their tunesmith. Compared with the 3k RAM on an unexpanded VIC20, the joy of 64k RAM was mind blowing to say the least for Fred.

His most celebrated tunes include those of Batman: The Caped Crusader, Firefly (both for Ocean Software), and Shadowfire (Beyond Software, developed by Denton Designs).

Essential Tunes

i. Firefly

I first came across this tune via a PD demo coded by Ash and Dave (Ashley Routledge and David Saunders to give their Sunday names). Fred Gray’s piece is strident and melodic, everything a good shoot em up theme tune should be.

ii. Enigma Force

Throughout the mid-1980s, Fred Gray provided the musical base for Denton Designs’ works. The game, and musical score, has Japanese influences. As well as its Yellow Magic Orchestra style composition, you could half imagine Jeff Porcaro doing session guitar on this number.

iii. Mario Bros

In the annals of computer gaming history, one thing that is forgotten is how the early Mario Bros games were released on non-Nintendo computers. Fred Gray’s reworking of Mozart’s Turkish March is an absolute gem.

Tomorrow’s Sultan of SID…

Once more, we can’t tell you who our next SID legend is, but we can give you a clue. The clue is as follows:

This Amiga tunesmith started out on the Commodore 64 with Codemasters. Spellbound? You would be.

All will be revealed tomorrow.

S.V., 16 December 2016.

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