David Ferguson - Composer and Chairman, British Academy of Composers & Songwriters (BACS)
Film and TV soundtrack composer David Ferguson was born in 1953 in South London. Though he began his working life in theatre, his interest in popular music led to a chance meeting with an old school friend, David Rhodes, at a concert in the late ’70s, when he was just 24 years old.This encounter changed the direction of his professional life.
The two Davids formed the core of an influential left-field combo called Random Hold, whose name should be familiar to any aficionado of early-’80s pop. Attracting record label interest and touring with XTC and OMD, the band were also spotted and taken under the wing of Peter Gabriel, on whose worldwide hit, ‘Biko’, David’s keyboard.
Three albums later, but with no great commercial success, Random Hold split, leaving David Ferguson to return to his old life in drama or to forge a new career in music. Then a Random Hold connection paid off, when the director of the band’s last music video landed a TV directing job and offered David the chance to produce the music. The 1985 six-part series for Channel 4, Low-Tech, gave David a track record with which to begin pursuing further soundtrack work.
The real breakthrough came when David narrowly missed a job at the BBC’s now defunct Radiophonic Workshop. Impressed by his work and attitude, the Workshop added him to their list of freelancers and his first major TV music assignment, the 1987 Emmy – and Bafta-winning Granada documentary The Sword of Islam, followed. Within a few short years his style was very much in demand, and his music was being matched with top-quality drama drawn from novels by contemporary best-selling writers such as Ruth Rendell (A Fatal Inversion, BBC 1992; A Dark Adapted Eye, BBC 1994) and with hard-hitting factual programming such as Black Box, X Cars, Fire In The Blood and Under The Sun.
His soundtracks have been graced by the talents of notable classical musicians such as Alex Balanescu, of the Balanescu Quartet, and Jonathan Carney, who played on David’s first foray into classical music and who is now leader of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Now 48, David Ferguson is in the top drawer of British film composers, with a list of recent credits including major documentary series American Visions (BBC/Time Inc, 1996), a wide-ranging sweep through American cultural history, with music to match; 1997’s Carlton/BBC period psychological thriller The Woman In White; the HBO/BBC action movie Hostile Waters, with Rutger Hauer and Martin Sheen (1997); and David’s personal favourite, the cult Granada drama Cracker, starring Robbie Coltrane, for which his skills were called upon in the 1994 second series.
David’s CD, The View from Now, available from The Expression Shop harks back in its title to the beginning of his eclectic musical career and Random Hold’s 1979 album, The View From Here. As David himself says, it’s an album he never expected to make, but the carefully-crafted moods he created to serve the moving image combine to make a CD that stands beautifully alone.
David worked on four films based on the Inspector Rebus books by Ian Rankin and starring John Hannah and has produced the music for a film biography of Diana Princess of Wales. As well as documentaries on subjects as diverse as the fall of Slobodan Milosovic, the British secret service and action adventure expeditions he has recently renewed his working relationship with John Hannah and Clerkenwell Films to write the score for a new version of Dr Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.
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