Joseph Abbott (faxpaladin) wrote,
Joseph Abbott

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Tommy Johnson is dead

You probably don't know the name, but you almost certainly know the sound: Two ominous notes on a tuba, back and forth... slowly at first, then gathering steam, finally joined by the rest of the orchestra...

...and then the shark strikes.

John Williams wrote those notes for Jaws, but it was Tommy Johnson who made them come alive, the highlight of a half-century career playing on thousands of film scores, including The Godfather, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Titanic the Star Trek movies...

I'm thinking of a particular cue in Wrath of Khan — "Surprise Attack," the scene where Enterprise first encounters the Reliant, not knowing of its hijacking by Khan and his followers. The trumpet sounds the first notes, the tuba the next. I have a name to put to those notes now. Typically, too late.

Tommy Johnson died Oct. 16 of cancer and of kidney failure. He was 71.

The Los Angeles Times obituary includes a link to an mp3 file of Johnson's most famous work, possibly the most famous two notes in movie history.
Tags: film, music, obit

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