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Ken Thorne, Composer of Beatles ‘Help’ Score, Dies

Ken Thorne
YouTube / Capitol

Ken Thorne, the Academy Award-winning film composer who worked on movies by the Beatles and the Monkees, died of natural causes on July 9. He was 90.

According to the L.A. Times, the British-born Thorne began playing piano at the age of five, turning pro at 15. In 1965, he was hired by Richard Lester to create the incidental score for the Beatles’ second movie, ‘Help.’ He said that he was given very clear instructions for the job. “My orders were to only use Beatles music and use their themes and snippets of themes, and I did that.” Thorne, along with the Beatles, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show.

‘Help’ was the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership with Lester. In 1966, he wrote the score for the film version of the Stephen Sondheim musical, ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.’ Throne won the Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment. A year later, came ‘How I Won the War,’ which co-starred John Lennon. Thorne also created the soundtrack for 1980’s ‘Superman II’ and 1983’s ‘Superman III’ — adapting the score John Williams wrote for the 1978 original.

Thorne was also involved in two other movies where classic rock featured prominently. He scored the Monkees’ 1968 cult classic ‘Head‘ as well as ‘The Magic Christian,’ the Peter Sellers-Ringo Starr vehicle which introduced the world to Badfinger via their Paul McCartney-penned hit, ‘Come and Get It.’

In the late ’70s, Thorne moved to Los Angeles and, following his work on the ‘Superman’ movies, focused primarily on TV movies. His last credit, according to his IMDB page, was in 2007 for ‘Marco Polo.’

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