Ben Daglish

Com­posers and fans mourn the pass­ing of Ben Daglish

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

De­vel­op­ers and mu­si­cians pay trib­ute to the retro gam­ing mu­si­cian and icon­o­clast

Ben Daglish had pas­sion – for playing mu­sic live, for teach­ing chil­dren about mu­sic and for the C64’s sound chip. His wife Sarah an­nounced Ben’s death on 1 Oc­to­ber 2018, he died af­ter a bat­tle with lung can­cer. The retro scene has lost an amaz­ing ra­con­teur, a su­perb per­former and a great show­man.

Ben learnt sev­eral in­stru­ments at school and per­formed as per­cus­sion­ist in the Sh­effield Schools Orches­tra.

Ben won his school a BBC Mi­cro in an es­say con­test, and was among the first to use it – meet­ing young pro­gram­mer Tony Crowther. “I have known Ben for many years, we met when he was 15. He is prob­a­bly the most like­able mu­si­cian I have ever known, he could play any musical in­stru­ment and keep you fas­ci­nated for hours. His pass­ing is a great loss, but his legacy will live on, with such mem­o­rable pieces of mu­sic as Trap, Wil­liam Wob­bler, and Ket­tle. These are just some of my games Ben worked on, that I am for­ever grate­ful. Ratt and Benn for­ever.” When Tony needed mu­sic for Com­modore 64 game Percy The Potty Pi­geon, Ben typed in the notes for Chopin’s Funeral March and a ca­reer started.

“We worked on Auf Wieder­se­hen Monty and had a real blast,” Rob Hub­bard re­mem­bers. “I’ve known him for over 30 years and we al­ways got on re­ally well. I re­cently thought about do­ing some kind of project with him, but kept putting it off. He was a very gifted, nat­u­rally tal­ented mu­si­cian and a one-off char­ac­ter. His mu­sic will al­ways sur­vive and new peo­ple will get to know it. We all loved Ben and he will be missed by all.” In the Nineties, Ben be­moaned the “suits” start­ing to dom­i­nate the games in­dus­try. He re­turned to work on live mu­sic, with bands Loscoe State Opera and Cold Flame.

Com­poser Matt Gray looks back. “Ben wrote some of the finest game sound­tracks in his­tory. As a teenager I com­piled a mix­tape of my favourite SID tracks and amongst that was some of Ben’s great­est work in­clud­ing The Last Ninja and my per­sonal favourite Trap, which dis­played a great un­der­stand­ing of what makes an epic piece of mu­sic work. I lost count of how many times I lis­tened to that tape.” Matt fi­nally met Ben at some re­cent retro events. “You wouldn’t have known Ben was ill. He found his way through the trauma of can­cer with the same jovi­al­ity he did through life. He was pos­i­tive about so many as­pects of life and never will­ing to see any­thing but good in peo­ple. I know he was de­voted to his fam­ily. I know he lived and breathed mu­sic. And he did it all rather well.”

Jarle Olsen of Fast­load­ers says, “Ben and I shared the stage for our Ninja Mu­si­col­ogy re­lease con­cert. When per­form­ing with us he pretty much just felt the mu­sic rather than think­ing

about it, just went with the flow and played his heart out. He was quite a char­ac­ter, born to be on stage and af­fected the au­di­ence with his charisma. The first time I met Ben he stood there watch­ing me playing one of his songs, he told me that he tried to make the most im­pos­si­ble mu­sic to play and I just showed up playing ev­ery note! It was in­spi­ra­tional know­ing him and I am proud of what we achieved to­gether, adding to his musical legacy that will al­ways carry on.”

Ben was part of the Back In Time con­certs, as per­former and com­pere. Off-stage he was al­ways happy to talk to fans and rem­i­nisce about his mu­sic. Mark Knight (TDK) per­formed along­side Ben with Stuck In D’80s. “I didn’t meet Ben un­til Back in Time Live 2001, he be­came a good per­sonal friend of mine. The guy was awe­some. He is prob­a­bly the best all-round mu­si­cian I had ever met, be­ing able to pick up vir­tu­ally any in­stru­ment and get a half-de­cent sound out of it straight away, and as a front­man I’ve never known bet­ter. I con­sider my­self very lucky to have per­formed with some­one whom I could com­mu­ni­cate with sim­ply through eye con­tact and fa­cial ex­pres­sion – very rare, and also a very sat­is­fy­ing thing to ex­pe­ri­ence. Out­side of per­form­ing he was a very en­gag­ing per­son. He had an im­mense wealth of knowl­edge. We were dis­cussing start­ing a TV theme cov­ers band. He al­ready had the name – ‘Mrs Slo­combe’s Pussy’, which re­ally summed Ben up. Ben was the most alive per­son I have ever met, even when he was dy­ing. I’m proud that he con­sid­ered me a friend, and I will sorely miss him.”

Chris Ab­bott of C64 Au­dio says, “Work­ing with Ben has been one of the priv­i­leges of my life. From an ad­mirer in front of a TV screen to work­ing with him on de­fin­i­tive or­ches­tral ver­sions of his best-known pieces. Ben was a show­man, but his eye for de­tail and knowl­edge of mu­sic was en­cy­clopaedic. He knew what he wanted, and was hon­est about what was crap, but he was cre­atively gen­er­ous, a great teacher and a joy to be around. I like to think he’ll turn up in spirit wher­ever a SID is played with spirit and pas­sion. That would be very Ben in­deed.” The 8-Bit Sym­phony con­cert in June 2019 will fea­ture or­ches­tral ar­range­ments of 8-bit mu­sic (in­clud­ing Ben’s) and act as a fit­ting trib­ute to the man and his mu­sic.

He was a very gifted, nat­u­rally tal­ented mu­si­cian and a one-off char­ac­ter Rob Hub­bard

Chris Ab­bott and Ben take their bow af­ter Back In Time Brighton, 2015.

Photo by MarkHardistyBen gave a mu­sic work­shop at Brinsworth dur­ing Games Bri­tan­nia, Com­pre­hen­sive 2011

Back In Time 2005. The Av­enue club in Manch­ester,Stuck In D’80s rock­ing

Photo by Mark HardistyPeter Har­rap, Ben Daglish, Shaun Holling­worth and Tony Crowther at Games Bri­tan­nia, 2012,

Ben Daglish per­form­ing at Brighton’s Back In Time event in 2015.

Ben per­form­ing with Jarle Olsen of Fast­load­ers, Cam­den 2016.


[Am­strad CPC] Switch­blade was el­e­vated by Ben’s mag­nif­i­cent sound­track.

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