Gaylord Carter (August 3, 1905 – November 20, 2000) was an American organist and the composer of many film scores that were added to silent movies released on video tape or disks. He performed a majority of the organ music heard in The Haunted Mansion.
Gaylord Beach Carter was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, the son of Charles Davis Carter & Olive Athena Beach: both musicians themselves. His father was a church organist and taught music, while his mother taught voice. They met in Europe and were married at Litchfield cathedral in England, eventually spending time in Wiesbaden, where Gaylord was born. Actually, Gaylord was originally to be called Mortimer Preston Carter, and the name Gaylord came about later. His family soon emigrated to the United States, settling in Wichita, Kansas, where his father opened a conservatory of music and also served as a church organist.
Young Gaylord displayed the family talent for music and became a soloist in a church choir, until his voice changed. He also played the organ in another church from the age of ten. As the "Jazz Age" evolved, Gaylord found himself drawn to the new musical form and dared to try jazz on the church organ. On one occasion this transgression was discovered by the pastor, who then chastised him: "Gaylord, stop playing that high-falutin' music in church!". By the time he was fourteen he was playing at a local movie theater, accompanying the silent films at children's matinees.
Silent Movie Career
The family remained in Wichita until 1922 and then made the long drive in the family's Chandler touring car to Los Angeles, California, where 16 year old Gaylord was enrolled at Lincoln High School in the Lincoln Heights district. Gaylord found employment at a local theater accompanying movies on the piano and then, as the theater prospered, a new Estey organ. After graduating from Lincoln High, he attended UCLA where, by 1926, he was engaged in pre-law studies. He continued playing in theaters to finance his education.
Carter was playing accompaniment to a Harold Lloyd movie at the Seville Theater in suburban Inglewood when he was spotted by an agent of the Harold Lloyd Company, who had dropped in to see how the movie was doing at the box office. Gaylord would later tell audiences that the agent was there to "see that Lloyd got his proper cut from the box office". Impressed by the description of Carter's playing, Lloyd recommended him to Sid Grauman, who offered the 21 year old $110 dollars a week to be the full-time organist at his downtown Los Angeles movie palace, the Million Dollar Theatre. Carter accepted the offer and left school. Though he later paid for the college educations of his brother and sister, he never completed college himself. Carter was summoned to the UCLA deans' office and asked if his reason for leaving his law studies was financial. Carter replied, "Yes! I'm making too much money to stay!".
Recording began in April of 1969. Carter performed the organ pieces heard in the Foyer, and Corridor Of Doors. Recording for the organ took place at Lorin Whitney Studios on a Robert Morton theater organ IV/34. When recording for the Foyer, the resonant, melancholy theater organ's output was so intense that the recording microphone was moved away from the instrument, and into the hallway to avoid distortion. For the Grand Hall, however, Carter was taking too sensible an approach for Baker's tastes, so he took a transcription of Carter's improvisations to William Sabransky. Sabransky then improvised from Carter's attempts. Also for the Foyer, Carter actually played the song backwards to achieve the discord that the composer intended. The organ part that can be heard in the song is that tune played forwards.