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.
He first started playing music aged seven. Whilst at school he played in bands. After leaving school he went to music college.
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.
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.
|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.|
|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|
|Formula 1 Simulator||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|
|Bump Set Spike||Entertainment USA||1986|
|Gerry the Germ||Firebird||1986|
|Proteus||Firebird||1986||based on two separate songs from John Keating´s album Space Experience|
|Warhawk||Firebird||1986||the same song as "Proteus", just an intro added|
|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|
|Zoids||Martech||1986||based on the track "Ancestors" from the Synergy album Audion|
|Hollywood or Bust||Mastertronic||1986|
|Phantoms of the Asteroid||Mastertronic||1986|
|Video Poker||Mastertronic||1986||contains "Easy Winners" by Scott Joplin|
|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|
|BMX Kids||Firebird||1987||the sampled voice saying "Go!" is actually Hubbard himself!|
|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|
|I-Ball||Firebird||1987||inspired by "Whip Blow" and "I Want You" by Cabaret Voltaire|
|Auf Wiedersehen Monty||Gremlin Graphics||1987||with Ben Daglish|
|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|
|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|
|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|