Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010)

Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010)
Whenever I try to finish drawing an arc of The Palace, like during last week and this week, I avoid logging on to the Web for a few days because I find it to be such a distraction. When I did allow myself to log on earlier today, I learned about the Saturday death of British jazz artist John Dankworth, whom I know best for his theme from the rarely rebroadcast first few seasons of The Avengers (back when the show was shot on videotape and was more serious in tone--Dankworth's theme reflected that harder-edged tone--and Emma Peel wasn't around yet to sex up the joint) and his catchy Modesty Blaise theme...

... which I was first exposed to via the Gorillaz/Del tha Funkee Homosapien collab "Rock the House."

In England, Dankworth is better known for his theme from Tomorrow's World--the show that was spoofed by Peter Serafinowicz's Look Around You--and his jazz albums. A Guardian obit gives a good overview of the career of Dankworth, whose death was announced by his singer wife Cleo Laine onstage at the end of an all-star jazz concert that took place only a few hours after he passed.

One of the greatest compliments a musician can receive is being frequently sampled. Dankworth has been the source of many excellent samples (and what I'm sure are hours of giggles from stoners because of his last name).

Dankworth's 1974 cover of his own theme from the 1965 thriller Return from the Ashes is pretty gangster.

The 1974 re-recording was sampled by Madlib a.k.a. Quasimoto for his 2002 joint "Astronaut" and DJ Premier for Cee-Lo's 2004 cut "Evening News."

UPDATE: Y Society's "Never Off (On & On)" is another track that sampled the '74 recording. (Good looking out, wutangfan85.)


  1. You forgot to put down that it was sampled by Damu The Fudgmemunk for Y-Society's song "Never Off":

  2. No problem, just keep the music alive man, oh and by the way, there is another song you can post on this blog:

    Two Piece Flower sampled by DJ Premier for Gang Starr's "Above The Clouds"

    "Above The Clouds" by Gang Starr

  3. This post focuses only on his film and TV themes and the tracks that sampled them, which is why I didn't and won't post embeds of the non-score-related "Two-Piece Flower" and the Gang Starr/Inspectah Deck tune, but yeah, those are two great tracks as well. Thanks for the links.