Anthony Lees

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Anthony Lees
Gender Male
Born 1969 or 1970
Birth Place Unknown
Nationality English   England.svg
Died August 2016 (Age 46 or 47)
Aliases Ant. Lees

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, Lees entered at least three songs into a music competition held by ZZAP! 64 magazine to compose the music for a theoretical game. One of the judges was Richard Joseph, and Lees won against Barry Leitch, Jonathan Dunn and Neil Baldwin. ZZAP! writer Julian Rignall put Lees' name around, and System 3 founder Mark Cale chose Lees to work alongside the professional composer Ben Daglish on the music for a real game, The Last Ninja (C64). Anthony Lees provided 5 or 6 tracks (tunes 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, and possibly 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including the Incredible Shrinking Sphere (C64), also trying to move onto 16-bit systems, but much of his work remained unpublished.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.

Audio Development

Amiga/Atari ST

It is unknown what he has used to create tunes for Amiga and Atari ST, though it was mostly never published anyway.

Commodore 64

Anthony Lees wrote his own music driver for composing music on Commodore 64. He has stated on the making of the Last Ninja:

I did six tunes for LN, the first of which was the one involving the creepy jungle music (which was and still is my favourite) - the inspiration is hard to nail down, but it was probably the film 'Apocalypse Now' - very dense, troubled and scary moods were evoked.

In the game's binary of the fifth tune, he added an interesting comment:


In 1988, he switched to Ubik's Musik.


Released Title Sample Comment
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