He started his musical career as a cellist, but soon found work as an in-demand arranger after he worked on David Bowie‘s “Space Oddity.” Since that 1969 session, Buckmaster has collaborated on records by Miles Davis, the Grateful Dead, Heart, Mott the Hoople, Harry Nilsson and many others over the past four and a half decades.
Buckmaster is probably best known for his orchestral arrangements on John’s early albums – including Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water – and for his work on the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers (he arranged and conducted the orchestra on “Moonlight Mile” and “Sway”). His arrangements can be heard on records like Nilsson’s “Without You,” Carly Simon‘s “You’re So Vain” and Guns N’ Roses‘ Chinese Democracy.
He also played on, as well as composed, many of the records he helped arranged, and worked with Bowie on The Man Who Fell to Earth score and Nilsson’s Son of Dracula soundtrack.
Fans and coworkers have shared the news of Buckmaster’s death on social media, including Matthew Wilder, a longtime collaborator whose “Break My Stride” reached No. 2 in 1984.