The Virginian composer Jack Hayes (1919-2011)

Composer Jack Hayes died recently at the age of 92. In partnership with Leo Shuken he was responsible for many TV Western scores on Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Riverboat among others. When Shuken died in 1976 Hayes continued to compose solo for shows such as Quincy M.E. and to orchestrate numerous film scores including The Color Purple (1985) for which he received an Academy Award nomination. In 2009, Hayes was awarded honors from the Society of Composers & Lyricists and the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers (ASMAC), for his long career in films and television.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 3 at St. Anastasia Catholic Church, 7390 West Manchester Avenue, Los Angeles. Donations may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. 

Here is Shuken and Hayes’ theme for the opening title credits to “Legacy of Hate” (5:01)

Author: PGreen

Published work in U.S.A. for McFarland & Co. Inc. : A History of Television’s The Virginian 1962-1971 (2006, 2009 Softcover edition) Pete Duel : A Biography (2007, 2009 Large Print edition; Kindle edition) Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns (2009) Jennifer Jones : Life and Films (2011)

4 thoughts on “The Virginian composer Jack Hayes (1919-2011)”

  1. I love Shuken & Hayes’ wonderful chase music from “The Stallion” in Season 3, which was re-used in several other episodes.

    1. Yes I love their music Elisabeth. It really enhances the pleasure of the episodes and lifts The Virginian above all other TV Westerns for the quality of composers used in the series.

  2. Just wondering if any of Shuken & Hayes music is available on recordings? I think that the Viriginian had some of the best theme music and background scores. The music really fit the shows and contributed to the feeling of the shows. It’s such a lost art with most of the TV and movies out today. Unfortunately budget cuts and computer technology have replaced a lot of great compositions, musicians and orchestras. I really like your book too, it’s a great reference and tribute to all these great composers and people that worked behind the scenes on this show.

    1. Hi E.M. Glad you enjoyed my book. I researched all available Virginian related recordings for my book and listed them in the Appendix. No Shuken & Hayes unfortunately. Universal TV were quite weak in promoting tie-ins to The Virginian. There isn’t much out there compared to other TV Westerns.
      I totally agree with you regarding the lost art of composing with an orchestra. It has such a natural sound compared to the synthetic music we hear today. The music was one of the best features of The Virginian and it’s a pity no soundtrack of the various composers has been released apart from Bernard Herrmann’s “Last Grave at Socorro Grave’ soundtrack.

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