Paul Buckmaster, an arranger and composer who worked with Elton John, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and many other famous musicians, died Tuesday in Los Angeles, according to the McDaniel Entertainment PR firm. He was 71.
The London-born musician found early success with his orchestral arrangement for Bowie’s classic 1969 song “Space Oddity,” and soon began a fruitful collaborative relationship with Elton that included work on such hits as “Your Song,” “Levon” and “Tiny Dancer.” Buckmaster also arranged strings on the 1971 Rolling Stones tunes “Moonlight Mile” and “Sway.”
Among the many other artists Buckmaster worked with over the years were Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon, Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, The Grateful Dead, Stevie Nicks, Guns N’ Roses, Heart, Kelly Clarkson and Chris Cornell. In 2002, he won a Grammy for his instrumental arrangement on Train‘s “Drops of Jupiter.”
Elton posted a message on his Twitter feed Wednesday paying tribute to Buckmaster. “So heartbroken. He helped make me the artist I am,” John wrote. “A revolutionary arranger who…took my songs and made them soar.”
Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson, who worked with Buckmaster on her band’s most recent studio, 2016’s Beautiful Broken, penned her own homage to Paul. She praised his collaborations with Elton, Bowie and The Stones, and shared how excited she was to get get to work with him directly.
“The world has lost one irreplaceable classic rock composer,” Nancy wrote on Facebook. “I hope Paul that you are somewhere out there soaring along and breathing with your heavenly strings.”
More details about Buckmaster’s passing and information about funeral plans will be announced soon.
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