Shore's formal education came at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. From 1969-1972 he recorded with the group Lighthouse. He was one of the original creators of Saturday Night Live and served as its musical director from 1975-1980. In 2000, Shore began work on one of the most expansive projects of his career when he signed on to produce scores for film adaptations of the Lord of the Rings series. He spent a year just working on the first film, using Tolkien's texts and drawing from eighth and ninth century music sources to try to evoke the books' magical worlds.