W. G. Snuffy Walden

William Garrett Walden, known as W. G. Snuffy Walden (born February 13, 1950), is an American musician and composer of film and television soundtracks. Walden is an Emmy Award winner for the theme music to The West Wing (NBC),[1] has been nominated for numerous Emmys throughout his career, and has received 26 BMI Awards.[2][3]

W. G. Snuffy Walden
Birth nameWilliam Garrett Walden
Also known asSnuffy Walden, W. G. Walden
Born (1950-02-13) February 13, 1950
Years active1973–present
Associated actsStray Dog
The Eric Burdon Band

Early life

Walden was born in Louisiana on February 13, 1950, and raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Lamar High School in Houston in 1967. In college he studied science and math, and he put himself through school working on a late-night radio show at KRBE in Houston and playing guitar in a strip club.[4]

Walden's middle name was his mother's maiden name, and this was the origin of his nickname. Members of his mother's family had sometimes been called Snuffy after the Southern snuff manufacturer Levi Garrett. His family and schoolmates addressed him as Garrett, but Snuffy began to stick when he was away at summer camp and the name was preferred by fellow musicians as his career began.[5]

Musical career

In the late 1960s, Walden dropped out of school, quit his job, and devoted his energies to the guitar full-time, picking up a bass player (Al Roberts) and drummer (Randy Reeder) to form a three-piece band named Aphrodite. They started touring and wound up in Denver, playing local clubs and opening for acts like Buddy Miles. It was in Denver that Emerson, Lake & Palmer's manager, Neville Chesters, saw them in a club and offered them a recording contract with ELP's label, Manticore. In 1972, the group moved to England and was reformed, keeping Al Roberts and changing the name to Stray Dog. There, they were signed to Manticore and Greg Lake produced three songs from their first album Stray Dog. The new group toured with ELP as the opening act, but never really took flight, and eventually folded. Following the breakup of the band, Walden supplanted the ailing Paul Kossoff by providing guitar tracks for Free's final album Heartbreaker, which was released in 1973 (Walden plays on 'Common Mortal Man', 'Easy on My Soul' and 'Seven Angels'). He also played electric guitar in 1973, on the debut solo album Still by King Crimson lyricist, Peter Sinfield. In 1975, he joined The Eric Burdon Band and performed with them for a year.[2][4]

In 1975, Walden moved to Los Angeles and spent the rest of the decade performing as a solo artist and supporting artists such as Stevie Wonder, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, and Eric Burdon. Notably, in 1975-6 he again filled in for Paul Kossoff as a session musician on Back Street Crawler's Second Street album. By the mid-1980s, television agents and producers became aware of Walden through his local performances in Santa Monica. When approached to score a new television show, Walden had mixed feelings but accepted the offer. "I could see the handwriting on the wall for touring," he would later remember, "and it wasn't pretty. I kept envisioning Holiday Inn at age 60." The television show he was hired for was thirtysomething, which turned out to be a major hit television series and dramatically altered Walden's music career.[2][4]

Following his success as a touring and session musician and an Emmy nomination for the "Theme from Thirtysomething",[6] Walden scored numerous television series, including Roseanne, Ellen, My So-Called Life, Felicity, Early Edition, Sports Night, The West Wing, George Lopez, I'll Fly Away, The Stand, Huff, Once and Again, Friday Night Lights and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.[7]

In the summer of 2001, Walden released a solo album of mainly acoustic guitar pieces titled Music by... W. G. Snuffy Walden. The album included expanded or full versions of many of Walden's themes, such as "Once and Again", "Eugene's Ragtop", "Thirtysomething (Revisited)", and "West Wing Suite".[3]

In July 2002, Tom Guerra conducted a comprehensive interview of Walden for Vintage Guitar Magazine.[4][8] In April 2008, Stephen J. Abramson interviewed Walden for a four-hour, multi-part video series for the Television Academy.[9]

In March 2018, Up to Snuff, a documentary film about Walden's career,[10] won the documentary competition in its premier at the Pasadena International Film Festival.[11][12]

Awards and nominations




BMI Awards


Solo albums

  • Music by... W. G. Snuffy Walden (2001, Windham Hill Records)[28]

Stray Dog albums

  • Stray Dog (1973)[29]
  • Fasten Your Seat Belts (1973) [30]
  • While You're Down There (1974)[31]

Compilation albums

  • Still (1973, Peter Sinfield - Command Studios)
  • thirtysomething Soundtrack (1991, Geffen Records)
  • Babylon Minstrels (1992, Hollywood Records)
  • The Stand (1994, ABC Circle Music)
  • My-So Called Life Soundtrack (1995, Atlantic Records)
  • A Winter's Solstice VI (1997, Windham Hill Records)
  • Celtic Christmas III (1997, Windham Hill Records)
  • The Carols Of Christmas II (1997, Windham Hill Records)
  • Summer Solstice 2 (1998, Windham Hill Records)
  • Sounds Of Wood & Steel (1998, Windham Hill Records)
  • Celtic Christmas IV (1998, Windham Hill Records)
  • Touch – Windham Hill 25 Years of Guitar (2001, Windham Hill Records)
  • A Winter's Solstice, Vol. 1: Silver Anniversary Edition (2001, Windham Hill Records)
  • A Windham Hill Christmas (2002, Windham Hill Records)
  • Windham Hill Chill: Ambient Acoustic (2003, Windham Hill Records)
  • Windham Hill Chill 2 (2003, Windham Hill Records)
  • Friday Night Lights Vol. 2 (2010)
  • The West Wing (2017, Varese Sarabande)


Year Title Type Role / notes Source
1979Laverne & Shirley: The Fourth Annual Shotz Talent Show Episodeguitarist[7]
1987thirtysomethingTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
1988WinnieFilmcomposer (score)[7]
19881993The Wonder YearsTV seriesmusic by, theme composer[32]
1989Roe vs. WadeTV moviecomposer (score)[7]
1990The OutsidersTV series
1990Working GirlTV series
1990Burning BridgesFilmcomposer (score)[7]
1990Guess Who's Coming for Christmas?Film
1991The ChaseFilmcomposer (score)[7]
1991Shoot First: A Cop's VengeanceFilmcomposer (score)[7]
1992Leaving NormalFilmcomposer (score)[7]
19911992I'll Fly AwayTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
1992CrossroadsTV series
1992Wild CardFilmcomposer (score)[7][33]
1992The Jackie Thomas ShowTV series
1992The Good FightFilmcomposer (score)[7]
1993A Place to Be LovedFilm
1993I'll Fly AwayTV series
19931997RoseanneTV seriesmusic by, theme composer[32]
1994Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd StoryFilmmusic by[34]
1994TomTV series
1994The StandminiseriesEmmy nomination[1]
1994Sweet JusticeTV series
19941998EllenTV seriesmusical score[32]
1995HomageFilmcomposer (score)[7]
19941995My So-Called LifeTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
1995The MonroesTV series
1996A Friend's BetrayalFilm
1996HomecomingFilmcomposer (score)[7]
1996InkTV series
19961997RelativityTV series
19961998Early EditionTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
1997413 Hope St.TV series
1998Maggie WintersTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19981999CupidTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19982000Sports NightTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19982002FelicityTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
19982003The Drew Carey ShowTV seriesmusic by[35]
1999NormTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19992001It's Like, You Know...TV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19992001ProvidenceTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19992002Once and AgainTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2000The $treetTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2001Rock & Roll Back to School SpecialFilm
2001Three SistersTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2002George LopezTV seriesmusic composer[36]
2002Hidden HillsTV series
2003Mister SterlingTV series
2003The Brotherhood of PolandTV series
2003The Lyon's DenTV series
2003BoomtownTV series
2003MiraclesTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
2005, 2008QuarterlifeFilmmusic composer[37]
20052007The War at HomeTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2005SurfaceTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2006The Book of DanielTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
19992006The West WingTV seriesEmmy award[1]
2006HuffTV seriesEmmy nomination[1]
20062007KidnappedTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2007HeartlandTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
20062007Studio 60 on the Sunset StripTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
20082009Lipstick JungleTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2008In Plain SightTV seriescomposer (score)[7]
2009A MarriageFilmcomposer (score)[37]
2009The BeastTV seriescomposer (score)[37]
2009HawthorneTV seriescomposer (score)[37]
20092010Men of a Certain AgeTV seriescomposer (score)[37]
2010HugeTV seriescomposer (score)[37]
2011In the Key of EliFilmcomposer (score)[37]
2011Serving LiveFilmcomposer (score)[7]
2011Friday Night LightsTV seriescomposer (score)[37]
2011A Gifted ManTV seriescomposer (score)[37]
2012Stetson, Street Dog of Park CityFilmcomposer (score)[38]
20132015Under the DomeTV seriesmusic by[39]
20122013NashvilleTV seriesmusic by[40]
2014Guilt By AssociationFilmcomposer (score)[37]
2017Seal TeamTV seriesmusic by[41]
2018Up To SnuffFilmmusic by[11]


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  24. Shared with John Lennon and Paul McCartney
  25. Shared with Allen Reynolds
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  27. Shared with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Bennett Salvay
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  40. Parisi, Paula (October 8, 2016). "Nashville Tunes-Up for Season Five". MaxTheTrax. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
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