September 22, 2014
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LIFESTYLE
Local musician eyes a future in Hollywood
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN: Freda Kelly, pictured with Paul Koch Jr. at the premiere of a film about her, was just 17 years old when she became secretary to the Beatles and president of their fan club. Koch, a Warwick native, wrote the original music for “Good Ol’ Freda,” about Kelly’s 10 years with the group.

Nobody expects to be a successful Hollywood music composer within four years of graduation but Paul Koch Jr. seems to be well on his way, well enough on his way for his father to start boasting about him being the youngest musician writing for television this year.

“I don't believe I am the youngest composer working in TV this year.  Definitely not in all of television, but perhaps not even in network primetime TV.  I feel extremely lucky that I was given the opportunity to co-compose the score for a TV show at such a young age, but I don't think any superlative applies…but it’s still pretty amazing. I’m only 26 and I’m writing music for a television show. Most Hollywood composers are in their 40s, 50s, even 60s before they have a show like this.”

The show he’s talking about is called Lucky 7. It’s an upcoming American drama television series that is expected to air on Sept. 24, 2013 on ABC as part of the 2013–14 American television season. The one-hour series is based on the British television show The Syndicate.

[It is not based on the forgettable movie, Lucky 7, from 2003, starring Patrick Dempsey, about the seventh beau who was predestined to marry the leading lady and how Dempsey, being the sixth, complicates the plot.] Lucky 7 is a group of seven gas station employees in Queens, New York, who play the lottery every week and dream about what they would do with the winnings. When they do finally hit the jackpot, the coworkers learn that money may solve some problems, but it creates new ones. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that the premise of the show could go the distance, even reach syndication (if you’ll pardon the pun) before Lucky 7/The Syndicate runs out of plot complications, all of which will be grist for Koch’s music mill.

“My focus now is to come up with music that fits the action and the mood of the story,” said Koch. “Not music that you want to write for yourself but what you think sounds best for the story the producer and director are trying to tell.”

What’s most amazing about the producer of this show is that he is none other than Stephen Spielberg. While Spielberg will not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the show, as executive producer, he had to sign off on all decisions made for the show, including the music.

“I guess he liked it,” said Koch. “We are doing 13 shows with them, and if that works out, we’ll do nine more.”

So, what could be more impressive than working with Stephen Spielberg? Nothing, really, unless you are doing the music for a movie about, oh, say…The Beatles!

Yes, the Beatles, or at least close to them as you can get these days.

“More than a year ago I told you I'd let you know if Paul Jr. ever did something really cool with his film composing out in Hollywood,” said Dr. Paul Koch, the ophthalmologist and father of the soon to be famous composer. “He has, and here's what.”

The first thing the good doctor told us about was The Beatles:

“Good Ol' Freda opened last Friday in Los Angeles,” he wrote. “It’s a wonderful documentary about Freda Kelly, the secretary to the Beatles and the president of their fan club from before they were famous until after they broke up. She never told her story to anyone, til now. It's probably the last [untold] Beatles story that ever will be told.”

Paul Jr. clarified the story in a phone conversation earlier this week.

“Freda was a fan of the Beatles from their earliest days,” said the younger Koch. “She used to go to see them in the Cavern Club and became friendly with Brian Epstein. When they began to get more popular, Brian asked her to be their secretary and she stayed with tem for about 10 years, until she left to have a family of her own.”

Young Koch said that she stayed because the fab four trusted her to do the right thing and she did, over and over again, as their secretary and president of the official Beatles Fan Club.

“There was one time when a fan wrote to her and asked if she could have a pillowcase Ringo had slept on,” said Koch. “So Freda took the pillow case down to Mrs. Starkey and told Ringo’s mother, and said, ‘Make sure that Richard sleeps on it’ and she did, and she sent it to the fan who asked for it.”

Koch mentioned an instance that someone in the Beatles organization once cut her sister’s hair and sent it to a fan as from one of the Beatles.

“She was fired and everybody who was in the office at the time was fired,” said Koch. “She said they couldn’t be trusted and got rid of them.”

Koch said he didn’t get to meet any of the surviving Beatles at the opening last week but he did get something that very few movie musicians get without paying an arm and a leg for; permission to use recordings of four songs by the Beatles. “We did pay for them but not as much as we should have,” said Koch. “It allowed us enough money to pay for other people’s music for the movie without going over budget…I actually had nothing to do with the approval of the Beatles songs. It was the music supervisor and the director, with Freda's help, who put all of that together, and I just wrote the original score.”

Koch said he did meet Freda, and that she is a remarkable woman who led a remarkable life, said Koch, the younger. He said she was just 17 when she started and toured with them and experienced the 1960s in a very personal way.

“She just decided that she wanted a DVD to show her grandchildren how she wasn’t just any old ordinary secretary, which was what she did when she left the Beatles, and what she still does today,” said Koch.

Koch was faced with the task of writing original music that sounded plausibly like London in the 1960s while avoiding obvious comparisons to the Beatles. For Lucky 7 Koch had to come up with music that sounded like 2013 in Queens, New York.

“1970s R and B horns with a modern twist,” said Koch. “Like music you would hear in Queens today.”

You have to wait for the debut of Lucky 7 on Sept. 24 to hear the score but you can see and hear Good Ol' Freda at the Cable Car in Providence for a two-week engagement, starting on Sept. 20.

“So,” says papa Koch, with more than a little pride, “A movie [with The Beatles]…and a TV show [with Stephen Spielberg] both coming out within five days of each other…I think that's pretty cool, no?”

 

This story was re-edited for the online version to clarify certain facts and quotations that appeared in the print version.


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