Anthony Lees was one of the well-known Commodore 64 composers.
Contrary to many other video game composers, Anthony Lees was familiar with music from early childhood. He learned how to play clarinet, alto sax and bassoon, for many years working in a choir.
In the mid-1980s, however, he switched to Commodore 64 programming. Between June 12 and July 10, 1986, at age 16, he entered a music competition held by ZZAP! 64 magazine to compose the music for a fictional game called Mindsmear (which started out as an April Fools' joke and remained fictional, but turned into a music competition). One of the three judges was Richard Joseph. Anthony Lees submitted at least 3 songs and won against Barry Leitch, Jonathan Dunn and Neil Baldwin. It caught the attention of the System 3 owner, Mark Cale, who then chose Lees to work alongside the professional composer Ben Daglish on the music for a real game, The Last Ninja (C64). Anthony Lees provided 6 tracks (tunes 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, and 10 in the game's rip), while Ben Daglish composed the rest.
Anthony Lees' new music was considered for the sequel, Last Ninja 2: Back With a Vengeance (C64), but was rejected, as it was told, due to the unfitting style, and Matt Gray's work was chosen instead. He then composed music for some other games, including the Incredible Shrinking Sphere (C64), also trying to move onto 16-bit systems, but much of his work remained unpublished.
Unfortunately, in the late 1980s, Lees' father passed away, and that affected him deeply. He made a decision to quit composing music for a job, despite starting to have a definite success, making it as a part of a hobby instead. His new job was at the Civil Service, and he remained there for about 30 years. He seems to very scarcely have done some minor programming and game design in later games, however.
In August 2016, Anthony Lees passed away in a traffic accident, just two years before his former colleague, Ben Daglish, died from lung cancer. Due to him not maintaining many contacts with any people in the Commodore 64 community, only in June 2018 his wife told them about his death, and an obituary has been written using the information from his old interviews.
It is assumed he was British, because Ben Daglish was, and all games he provided his music to were published in the UK mainly. When he entered the competition, he had just finished his O levels at school and was living in Great Harwood, Lancashire, England.
Anthony Lees wrote his own music driver for composing music on Commodore 64. He has stated on the making of the Last Ninja:
In the game's binary of the fifth tune, he added an interesting comment:
In 1988, he switched to Ubik's Musik.
|1987-??-??||The Last Ninja (C64)||With Ben Daglish|
|1987-??-??||Captain America in: The Doom Tube of Dr. Megalomann (C64)|
|1987-??-??||Rainbow Dragon (C64)|
|1988-??-??||Dream Warrior (C64)|
|1988-??-??||Street Warriors (C64)|
|1988-??-??||Last Ninja 2: Back With a Vengeance (C64)||Unreleased tracks|
|1989-??-??||Incredible Shrinking Sphere (C64)|
|1989-??-??||Incredible Shrinking Sphere (AST)||Composer, also might have been an arranger|
|1991-??-??||Brat (AST)|| |
Probably composed long before the game's release, because Anthony Lees was inactive from 1990 or even 1989
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,117739/ - MobyGames.
- heechee.net/c64/ninja/crew.php - Interview from August 17, 1999.
- facebook.com/chris.abbott.9638/posts/10213713304639469 - Interview from Commodore Zone Issue 14.
- c64audio.com/blogs/news/anthony-lees-an-obituary - An obituary.
- csdb.dk/scener/?id=4290 - A page about his Commodore music and credits.