Akira Ifukube, 91; Created ‘Godzilla’s’ Film Score and Roar

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Akira Ifukube, 91, the composer who brought the giant movie lizard Godzilla to life with a trademark anthem and high-pitched roar, has died. He was 91.

Ifukube died Wednesday of multiple organ failure at a hospital in Tokyo.

Born on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido in 1914, Ifukube composed more than 250 film scores over 50 years, including music for the 1956 war film “The Harp of Burma.” He headed the Tokyo College of Music from 1976 to 1987.

But he rose to fame with the menacing, repetitive score to the Japanese movie “Godzilla” in 1954. The self-trained composer also devised Godzilla’s high-pitched roar -- for which sound engineers rubbed a leather glove against the loosened strings of a double bass -- and the lizard’s booming footsteps.

He was named a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 2003.