A regular collaborator of Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh, Cliff Martinez is one of the most successful musicians to have made the transition from rock star to film composer.
Born in the Bronx, New York in 1954 but raised in Columbus, Ohio, he moved to California just as the punk movement was gathering pace in 1976. After drumming for the likes of Captain Beefheart
, Lydia Lunch
, and the Dickies
, he was recruited by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
to replace Jack Irons
, who along with Hillel Slovak, had left to concentrate on What Is This?
Martinez performed on both their 1984 debut and 1985 follow-up, Freaky Styley, but during the recording sessions for 1987's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, he was fired by Anthony Kiedis
, who felt his heart was no longer in the band. Switching his focus to TV/film work, his first composing job on kid's show Pee Wee's Playhouse attracted the attention of Soderbergh, who invited him to score the 1989 indie Sex, Lies & Videotape, and later 2000's Oscar-winning Traffic (for which Martinez received a Grammy nomination), 2002's remake of Solaris, and 2011's virus drama Contagion. Other credits include 1990's Pump Up the Volume, 2004's Wicker Park, 2013's The Company You Keep, the video game Spore, and several TV shows including multiple seasons of the Soderbergh-directed series The Knick. Arguably, his most well-received work came from his retro synth pop soundtrack for the 2011 Ryan Gosling
action film Drive. Over the next several years, Martinez continued to compose scores for high profile films like 2016's The Neon Demon and the 2017 Jackie Chan
film The Foreigner. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi