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Rob Hubbard

Rob Hubbard

British composer
Rob Hubbard
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British composer
Is Musician Composer
From United Kingdom
Type Music
Gender male
Birth Kingston upon Hull
Peoplepill ID rob-hubbard
The details


Rob Hubbard (born 1955 in Kingston upon Hull, England) is a British composer best known for his composition of computer game theme music, especially for microcomputers of the 1980s such as the Commodore 64. His work showcased the potential of the Commodore 64's sound hardware and provided many examples of how appropriate music can improve the gaming experience.

Early life

He first started playing music aged seven. Whilst at school he played in bands. After leaving school he went to music college.

Early career

In the late seventies, before scoring games, he was a professional studio musician. He decided to teach himself BASIC and machine code for the Commodore 64.

Music on the Commodore 64

Writing a few demos and some educational software for learning music, he approached Gremlin Graphics in 1985 with samples of his work, in an attempt to market his software. Gremlin was more interested in the tunes than the software, and he was asked to create the soundtrack for Thing on a Spring, a platform game.

Hubbard went on to write or convert music for a variety of publishers on over 75 games between 1985 and 1989 such as Monty on the Run, Crazy Comets, Master of Magic and Commando. Some of his most popular tunes include also Warhawk, Delta, Thrust, Lightforce, Spellbound, Sanxion, Auf Wiedersehen Monty and International Karate. The game Knucklebusters includes Hubbard's longest tune: a 17-minute opus. Hubbard has mentioned his personal favourites are Kentilla, WAR and Sanxion. His least favourite was Sam Fox Strip Poker which he admitted to have done purely for money. He went under John York as an alias on the game credits. He has stated that he had many musical influences including Jean Michel Jarre, Synergy (Larry Fast) and other synth bands.

During this time Hubbard mainly composed for the Commodore 64's SID sound chip. He worked freelance and turned down some offers from companies to work in-house.

Move to Electronic Arts and the USA

After working for several different companies, he left Newcastle in 1988 to work for Electronic Arts in America as a composer. He was the first person devoted to sound and music at EA, and did everything from low-level programming to composing. One of his most famous compositions during his period at EA is the music featured in the loading sequence of the C64 version of Skate or Die, which features samples of an electric guitar. Playback of samples was facilitated by exploiting a flaw in the SID sound-synthesizer chip: altering the volume register produced an audible click, and altering the register thousands of times per second enabled a crude form of sample playback. He eventually became Audio Technical Director, a more administrative job, deciding which technologies to use in games, and which to develop further.

After the Commodore 64 period he wrote some soundtracks for games which appeared on the Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC and Sega Mega Drive.

Recent activities

Hubbard recently contributed a few re-arrangements of his themes to Chris Abbott's C64 tribute Back in Time Live. Hubbard has performed several times with the Danish C64 cover-band PRESS PLAY ON TAPE who have covered many of his early tunes using a full rock-band arrangement. Hubbard has also performed his old music on piano with the support of violinist and fellow chiptune composer, Mark Knight aka TDK.

Hubbard left EA in 2002 and returned to England. He has recently resumed playing in a band, and has even revisited his past game music work in concert. Recent composition jobs have included music for mobile phone games.

In 2005, music from International Karate was performed live by a full orchestra at the third Symphonic Game Music Concert. The event took place in Leipzig, Germany. Hubbard arranged and orchestrated the piece.

In 2014, Hubbard appeared and composed music for the documentary feature film From Bedrooms to Billions, a film that tells the story of the British video games industry.

In November 2016, Hubbard received an honorary degree from Abertay University for his contributions to video game music in the 1980s.


Title Publisher Release Notes
Commando Elite Systems 1985 based on theme from Commando arcade game
Rasputin Firebird 1985 features traditional Russian songs
Monty on the Run Gremlin Graphics 1985 partially based on Devil's Galop by Charles Williams
Thing on a Spring Gremlin Graphics 1985
Confuzion Incentive Software 1985 Cover of the song "Confuzion" by the band Private Property which was also on side B of the game cassette.
Crazy Comets Martech 1985
Chimera Firebird 1985
Master of Magic MAD/Mastertronic 1985 partially based on "Shibolet and an End to History" from the Synergy album Audion
The Last V8 Mastertronic 1985
Action Biker Mastertronic 1985
Formula 1 Simulator Mastertronic 1985
Hunter Patrol Mastertronic 1985
One Man and His Droid Mastertronic 1985 borrows some notes from Police Woman theme (a long version with strings) by Henry Mancini.
Battle of Britain PSS 1985
Harvey Smith Showjumping Software Projects 1985
Up, Up and Away Starcade 1985 cover of a song by The 5th Dimension
Deep Strike Durell 1986
Bump Set Spike Entertainment USA 1986
Ninja Entertainment USA 1986
Gerry the Germ Firebird 1986
Proteus Firebird 1986 based on two separate songs from John Keating´s album Space Experience
Thrust Firebird 1986
Warhawk Firebird 1986 the same song as "Proteus", just an intro added
Lightforce FTL 1986
Geoff Capes Strongman Challenge Martech 1986
Samantha Fox Strip Poker Martech 1986 credited as John York because as he said "[it] was such a cheesy title and they wanted that cheesy lame music along with it - I didn't want to admit that I did it just for the money". Contains "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin
Tarzan Martech 1986 Based on "Tarzan's Nuts" from the album One Step Beyond... by Madness
W.A.R. Martech 1986
Zoids Martech 1986 based on the track "Ancestors" from the Synergy album Audion
Flash Gordon MAD/Mastertronic 1986
Spellbound MAD/Mastertronic 1986
Hollywood or Bust Mastertronic 1986
Human Race Mastertronic 1986
Kentilla Mastertronic 1986
Phantoms of the Asteroid Mastertronic 1986
Video Poker Mastertronic 1986 contains "Easy Winners" by Scott Joplin
Knucklebusters Melbourne House 1986
International Karate System 3 1986 partially based on Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Forbidden Colours" from "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence"
Sanxion Thalamus Ltd 1986 in addition to Hubbard's famous loader song, this contains "Dance of the Knights" from Prokofiev's ballet "Romeo and Juliet"
Jet Set Willy Tynesoft 1987 Atari 800 version
ACE II Cascade 1987
BMX Kids Firebird 1987 the sampled voice saying "Go!" is actually Hubbard himself!
Saboteur II Durell 1987
Sigma 7 Durell 1987 Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze
Thanatos Durell 1987 Commodore 64 arrangement by Hubbard; Amstrad original by Julian Breeze
Thundercats Elite 1987
Arcade Classics Firebird 1987
I-Ball Firebird 1987 inspired by "Whip Blow" and "I Want You" by Cabaret Voltaire
Hydrofool FTL 1987
Shockway Rider FTL 1987
Auf Wiedersehen Monty Gremlin Graphics 1987 with Ben Daglish
Chain Reaction Kele-Line 1987
Mega Apocalypse Martech 1987 Re-arrangement of "Crazy Comets"
Nemesis the Warlock Martech 1987
Wiz Melbourne House 1987 contains a melody line from Premiata Forneria Marconi song Impressioni Di Settembre
Bangkok Knights System 3 1987
IK plus (International Karate plus) System 3 1987
Dragons Lair Part II Software Projects 1987
Star Paws Software Projects 1987
Delta Thalamus Ltd 1987 The title music is partially based on the title track of Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack by Philip Glass. Other songs inspired by Pink Floyd
Trans Atlantic Balloon Challenge Virgin 1987
Goldrunner Microdeal 1987 contains the same song as "Human Race"
19 Part One: Boot Camp Cascade 1988 an interpretation of Paul Hardcastle's "19"
Jordan vs. Bird: One on One Electronic Arts 1988
Kings of the Beach Electronic Arts 1988
One-on-One 2 Electronic Arts 1988
Power Play Hockey Electronic Arts 1988
Skate or Die! Electronic Arts 1988
Skate or Die 2: The Search for Double Trouble Electronic Arts 1990
Pandora PSI Soft Design/Firebird 1988
Ricochet Firebird 1988
Q-Ball Mindscape 1988
688 Attack Sub Electronic Arts 1989
Budokan: The Martial Spirit Electronic Arts 1989
Indianapolis 500: The Simulation Electronic Arts 1989
Kings of the Beach Electronic Arts 1989
Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs Electronic Arts 1989
Populous Electronic Arts 1989
Low Blow Electronic Arts 1990
Ski or Die Electronic Arts 1990
The Immortal Electronic Arts 1990
John Madden Football EA Sports/Imagineer 1990
PGA Tour Golf Electronic Arts 1991
Road Rash Electronic Arts 1991 with Michael Bartlow
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf Electronic Arts 1991 with Brian L. Schmidt
Road Rash 2 Electronic Arts 1992 with Don Veca and Tony Berkeley
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel Electronic Arts 1992
Desert Strike Electronic Arts 1992
NHL Hockey '95 Electronic Arts 1994
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Rose Tattoo Electronic Arts 1996
From Bedrooms to Billions Gracious Films 2014

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