Ben Vaughn wears many hats: A talented television and film composer, instrumental musician, solo artist and producer, he's known for his surf-inspired guitar theme for the hit TV series 3rd Rock from the Sun.
A fan of '50s music, Vaughn got hooked on rock & roll after hearing an album by legendary guitarist Duane Eddy. Additional influences included Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, along with composers Ennio Morriconi, Lalo Schifrin, Nino Rota, and Georges Delerue.
Ben moved to Los Angeles from New Jersey five years ago, wanting to focus on composing for film. He landed the pilot for 3rd Rock after two months, after appearing on local radio station KCRW while promoting his instrumental CD. "The President of Carsey-Werner Productions (producers of 3rd Rock) was listening to the show that morning and said 'that's the sound'," recalls Vaughn.
Vaughn finds TV music interesting because "you need to sum up in 30 seconds the musical identity of the show, and create a theme that makes people watch it for eight seasons. The 3rd Rock theme took a while because they're earthlings but something is wrong with them. That's why I made the music go slightly off key in different parts. Coming up with the musical identity was the crucial part."
Vaughn's credits include the theme and background music for That '70s Show and the theme for the new NBC animated series God, The Devil and Bob. He also scored the films Psycho Beach Party (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival); The Independent, directed by Steve Kessler (Vegas Vacation) and starring Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofolo; and American Nightmare, a 30-minute mystery/murder directed by Jason Roberts. Ben recently hired Jeff Sudakin as his co-composer, "to help free up more of my time, but, more work came in."
Having completed a solo tour in Europe, he is planning repeat trips in April and June. He is also recording material with members of Teenage Fanclub and Belle & Sebastian.