The 89 year-old maestro, John Williams, considered one of the greatest and most influential film composers of all time, producing the most popular, recognisable and acclaimed movie scores over the past seven decades (including JAWS, the STAR WARS sagas, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, ET, THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL,the INDIANA JONES and JURASSIC film franchises and SCHINDLER’S LIST to name only a handful). He has won 25 Grammys, five Oscars, seven BAFTAs, four Golden Globes, three Emmys and a myriad of other accolades, which sums up his spectacular contribution to film music. His 52 Academy Award nominations are the second most by an individual, behind Walt Disney. He has had a long association with Steven Spielberg since 1974 scoring all but five of his feature films.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting the maestro once, when he and George Lucas were at ShoWest in Las Vegas in the 1990s. He was conducting the local symphony orchestra performing a number of STAR WARS medleys. From 1983 to 1993 John was principal conductor of the Boston Pops succeeding Arthur Fiedler. While there he signed a card for me adding the opening few bars of the infamous dum dum dum dum Intro to JAWS. A few years ago I sent this sketch to his agent hoping to get it signed, but unfortunately it wasn’t possible.
John was scheduled to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in October 2018 which gave me an opportunity to get the drawing signed in person, but due to a last minute illness he was unable to attend.
As the ever enthusiastic gastronaut I was watching the first episode of the ITV’s mini-series INSIDE THE RITZ HOTEL one lazy Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago. It featured the famous Piccadilly Hotel’s venerable Executive Chief John Williams and the launch of The Ritz’s first ever cookbook, compiled by him and containing its most famous signature recipes, including the Roast Scallops Bergamot and Avocado, the Saddle of Lamb Belle Époque and the Grand Marnier Soufflé. The recipes are said to be ‘simple to the seasonal, to the signature and the sublime.’
I thought he would make a great addition to my collection, drawing this quick sketch, I posted it to him for signing. South Shields-born, on England’s North East coast and the son of a Tyneside fisherman, John’s culinary career began peeling spud’s in his mum’s kitchen. He moved to London at the age of 16 and after working at the Royal Garden, Claridges and The Berkeley Hotels he arrived at The Ritz in 2004 as the Executive Chef. Seen by many as the symbol of high society and luxury it is described as one of the best dining experiences you’ll ever have or in my case ever wish to have.
The fortunate diner is spoiled for choice with The Ritz Restaurant, which was awarded it’s first Michelin Star in 2017, the iconic Palm Court, the legendary Rivoli Bar, six private dining suites not to mention room service. It is the recipient of a Royal Warrant for Banqueting and Catering Services from HRH The Prince of Wales-the first and only Hotel to receive the prestigious accolade.
John himself has been personally recognised with numerous awards, including the Pierre Taittinger International prize, known as the ‘Everest of Gastronomy’ and the Craft Guild of Chefs Award in 2000. In 2005 he was the first British Chef to be conferred with the CMA by the French Government for his contribution to French cuisine. He was made a Member of the British Empire in 2008.
His favourite dish? The lobster with lemon verbena, which has had a few variations over the years. It used to be accompanied by a spiced carrot purée, but now it’s served with a vegetable tagliatelle.
As you can see John kindly signed and returned my drawing.
The world’s most celebrated guitarist, the brilliant, Grammy Award winning Australian John Williams played the Royal Festival Hall in London earlier this month, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Described by guitar historian Graham Wade as, “perhaps the most technically accomplished guitarist the world has seen.” John’s technique is universally considered flawless.
His career has spanned six decades and although he is best known for his classical work, he has explored different musical genres, including the acclaimed classical rock fusion duet with Peter Townshend of The Who for the 1979 Amnesty International benefit show The Secret Policeman’s Ball.