John Meston

Gunsmoke, Volume 8

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The Gunsmoke theme is considered by many to be one of the most renowned pieces of music of classic radio themes. Rex Koury was hired to provide the music for the program, and while having experience on a variety of radio shows, Koury had never composed for a western before. As a matter of practice, Koury wrote the music for the show itself first, openers and bridges and the like, then he would write the theme, tying it all together. According to Koury, he wrote the Gunsmoke theme the morning of the show’s first broadcast, after oversleeping, in ten minutes.
One of the keys to the success of Gunsmoke most definitely was character development. With a concept built around basically four key cast members and a continual flow of other characters in and out each week, Gunsmoke endeared itself to its audience by allowing that core cast to grow over the years. Although originally conceived to be a ‘Philip Marlowe of the West,” Matt Dillon grew less hard-boiled and more compassionate and understanding. Portrayed early on much like a buzzard waiting for people to die, Doc Adams also evolved, maturing into a man dedicated to his work. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 8.
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