R.I.P. COMPOSER ROB WALSH
October 17, 2018
REVENGE OF THE NINJA composer Rob Walsh has died
by Randall D. Larson
Word has come that Robert J. Walsh, a talented musician, composer, and orchestrator for films and television, has passed away at the age of 70. No further details have yet been announced.
Perhaps best known for his thick and powerful synth-based score to the 1983 action film REVENGE OF THE NINJA, Walsh was an expressive and articulate composer whose dexterity on synths and electronics brought him numerous opportunities to score feature films, television movies, and animated TV shows.
Walsh was born in Chicago in 1947 and began his film scoring career in the late 1970s; one of his first scores was for the 1977 American release of the Taiwanese martial arts film REVENGE OF THE SHOGUN WOMEN. With an abundance of film and television assignments coming up in the 1980s, his career took off. In 1983 he re-scored the 1972 Bert I. Gordon horror film, NECROMANCER. Other notable genre scoring included Don Dohler’s NIGHTBEAST (1982), YOUNG WARRIORS (1983), the animated TV series TRANSFORMERS (1985-1987), based on the Hasbro toy line, and the 1986 animated series INHUMANOIDS, made by Marvel Studios and based on another Hasbro line; several episodes were edited together that same year to create INHUMANOIDS: THE MOVIE. In 1986 he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for MUPPET BABIES.
Walsh also scored Marvel Studio’s cartoon series SOLARMAN (1986), the animated FRAGGLE ROCK (1987), based on Jim Henson’s Muppet series, the Stan Lee Productions’ cartoon science fiction series THE 7TH PORTAL (2000), and dozens of other animated series – including THE PINK PANTHER specials, the G.I. JOE cartoon series and TV movie(1986), and several LOONEY TUNES compilations and specials. Returning to TV movies, documentaries, and feature films in the 1990s, Walsh composed the first LEPRECHAUN horror film (1993), the Glen A. Larson-scripted science fiction thriller THE DARWIN CONSPIRACY and MILLENNIUM MAN (both 1999), Ulli Lomell’s ZOMBIE NATION (2004), and Jeff Frentzen’s horror thriller THE HOUSE ON THE HILL (2012).
Of his score for REVENGE OF THE NINJA, Daniel Schweiger wrote in the liner notes of Varèse Sarabande’s 1977 expanded CD release of the score, “A composer also skilled in oriental fighting techniques, Walsh possessed equal inventiveness under pressure, creating a nearly non-stop soundtrack whose percussion and electric guitar were as steely, relentless, and energetic as this new brand of hero and his lethally rhythmic action.” With his arsenal of Oberheim synthesizer, DMX drum machine, and vintage 1968 Les Paul guitar, Walsh gave the film a brazen and bravado sense of action, propulsion, and ninja-worth sense of dexterity and speed. Other than a soundtrack LP of his YOUNG WARRIORS, Walsh’s REVENGE OF THE NINJA score has been his only feature film score to be preserved on a soundtrack recording.
For a detailed biography of Rob Walsh see his website home page
Listen to Walsh’s track “Ninja Power” from RETURN OF THE NINJA