Farewell to Gerald Fried, the composer of the music of ‘Star Trek’ was 95 years old

He created the soundtracks for Kubrick’s first four films

US composer Gerald Fried, the Oscar-nominated score for “The Birds and the Bees Do It Too” (1974) who created the iconic gladiator fight music for the original “Star Trek” series and who collaborated with Quincy Jones winning an Emmy for the musical theme of the historic miniseries “Roots” (1977), died Friday February 17 of pneumonia at St. Vincent hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at the age of 95. The announcement of his disappearance was given by his wife Anita Hall to “The Hollywood Reporter”.

After meeting Stanley Kubrick on a baseball field in the Bronx in the early 1950s, Fried found himself creating and scoring the director’s first four feature films: “Fear and Desire” (1953), “Killer’s Kiss ” (1955), “Armed robbery” (1956) and “Paths of Glory” (1957).

Fried also scored Roger Corman classics such as “The Law of the Machine Gun” (1958), “The Cry Baby Killer” (1958) and “A Gangster’s Life” (1959). He also collaborated with directors Larry Peerce for “The Hard Law” (1964) and “The Bell Jar” (1979), as well as with Robert Aldrich for “The Murder of Sister George” (1968), “The Third Pit” ( 1969), “It’s No More Heroes” (1970) and “Grissom Gang” (1971).

The composer has created the music for numerous episodes of telefilms, such as “Gilligan’s Island”, “Mission: Impossible”, “Flamingo Road” and “Dynasty”.

Fried first worked for the TV series “Star Trek” midway through the first season, in the December 1966 episode “Shore Leave,” but made his mark in the second season opener, “Amok Time.” His relentless soundtrack “The Ritual/Ancient Battle/2nd Kroykah” dramatizes a memorable “fight to the death” on the planet Vulcan between Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy).

In the 1999 book “The Music of Star Trek,” author Jeff Bond describes the music as “a pattern of action-bombing, wildly percussive and filled with exclamatory trills from trumpet, flute, and horns to accentuate the pounding of fanfare performed by the brass”.

Some passages were reused for another 18 episodes of “Star Trek” and appeared in “The Cable Guy” (1996) and in some episodes of “Futurama” and another animated series.

A year after receiving an Academy Award nomination for “Birds and Bees Do It Too,” a documentary about the mating rituals of animals and insects, Fried won an Emmy for his work on the first episode of “Roots” ( 1977). Qyincy Jones had been hired to score the miniseries, but as the January 1977 premiere date approached, he missed deadlines. So producer Stan Margulies called Fried. “Quincy, for some reason, had a kind of writer’s block and couldn’t find a main theme,” Fried said. “And they needed a main theme for the commercial. It was three weeks away from airing. So they called me. I wrote the main theme. I finished episode number one. The first show, Quincy did 56% of it. and I had to finish it. I’m very happy to have participated in Roots. It was an honor.” Fried also received a nomination on his own for his background vocals in the eighth and final episode.

Born in Manhattan on February 13, 1928, Fried was raised in the Bronx by his father Samuel, a dentist, and his mother Selma. He credited his mother’s side of the family with his musical talent. His father, a trombonist, had bought the family passage to America as a traveling musician in Eastern Europe. Fried’s aunt was a pianist who provided live music for silent films.

(by Paolo Martini)