Richard Bellis joins us at the LA Ravel to talk about his work in the industry, about the LA Conducting Workshop, and about the creative process of film scoring.
The background of Richard bellis is distinguished by its surprising diversity: child actor, touring rock ‘n roll music director, arranger/conductor for Las Vegas headliners, university lecturer and now, award-winning Hollywood composer.
Born in Pasadena, California in 1946, he began his show business career acting in movies (notably the sci-fi classic Them!) and TV (from Cheyenne to Batman) but turned his attention to music in his teens, fronting his own Dixieland band and writing arrangements for several Los Angeles-based big bands.
Within months of graduating from high school, he became musical director for the touring version of the popular TV rock ‘n roll showcase Shindig, leading the band for such ‘60’s stars as Bobby Sherman, the Dixie Cups and Gerry & the Pacemakers. That led to a long stint as musical director for Johnny Mathis on cross-country and worldwide tours, and Bellis’ own first album of instrumentals (for famed London producer Norman Newell).
Bellis spent several years arranging and/or conducting for a number of top Las Vegas acts, including Connie Stevens, Leslie Uggams, Abbe Lane, Sally Struthers and Ann-Margaret, as well as such vocal groups as The Young Americans, the Doodletown Pipers and the King Cousins. In 1976, he returned to Los Angeles on a full-time basis to begin a film-scoring career.
His very first movie-for-television (Black Market Baby) boasts a song with a Sammy Cahn lyric. He won an Emmy for the score of Stephen King’s IT and a nomination for HBO’s Doublecrossed starring Dennis Hopper.
In addition to his film-scoring career, Bellis is a past president of the Society of Composers & Lyricists; served on the faculty of the University of Southern California, where he lectured for the past 11 years in the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program; and served on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Bellis currently serves on the Board of Directors of ASCAP.
(Written by Jon Burlingame)