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Lee Jackson (composer)

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Title: Lee Jackson (composer)  
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Subject: O. Henry Pun-Off, Duke Nukem 3D, Duke Nukem, Rise of the Triad, Risk (Megadeth album)
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Lee Jackson (composer)

Lee Jackson
Born (1963-11-19) November 19, 1963
Origin Austin, Texas
Genres Video game music
Occupation(s) Composer, musician, voice actor, game audio designer/director/producer, producer, news presenter
Instruments Bassoon, bass clarinet, marimba/xylophone, tympani and other percussion, synths and samplers, other MIDI instruments and sample libraries
Years active 1994–2002

Lee Jackson is an American composer. He was the Music and Sound Director for the video game developer 3D Realms from 1994 through 2002. He is most well known for his work on Duke Nukem 3D and Rise of the Triad, specifically for creating Duke Nukem 3D's main theme titled "Grabbag". He collaborated with Robert Prince to create the two games' instrumental background tracks. Jackson created all of the tracks for the fourth episode of Duke Nukem 3D, better known as the "Plutonium Pak Add-On" or as the full four-episode "Atomic Edition."[1]

Game music and audio development

While at Apogee/3D Realms, Lee Jackson also served as the primary composer for the later 3D Realms title Shadow Warrior, and was involved with many other games published by 3D Realms and Apogee Software.[2] His duties also called for sound design on Shadow Warrior and on early versions of Duke Nukem Forever.

Lee also did voice acting, direction, and effects for games by Apogee and 3D Realms, as well as for the Balls of Steel pinball game,[3] released under the Apogee one-off subsidiary Pinball Wizards label. His own voice acting characters include the "Fat Commander" in Duke Nukem 3D, the "Doug Wendt"[4] character in Rise of the Triad, and "Zilla" in Shadow Warrior. Aside from performing several characters used in Balls of Steel, he also auditioned talent and directed recording sessions for Apogee and 3D Realms games at Bill Reardon's RR Brand Productions studio in Dallas.

Lee's voice can also be heard in the music for two games. He incorporated his voice into the music for a level of Apogee's Stargunner, and used it as a sampled instrument in a track for Shadow Warrior.


Grabbag has elicited many spin-offs and remixes over the years by both fans and professional musicians, including an officially sanctioned studio version by the popular thrash metal outfit Megadeth. Another version of the song was recorded by Chris Kline in August 2005. 3D Realms featured it on the front page of their website and contracted with Kline to use it to promote their Xbox Live release of Duke Nukem 3D.[5] Grabbag was brought back and used again as the theme song for the 2011 release of Duke Nukem Forever.

In June 2014, Lee made MIDI files in both General MIDI and Roland GS formats available for download from his website at . The files were released under a License which allows non-commercial use but retains his copyright.

Grammy (NARAS) membership

Lee was one of the first people to qualify for full voting membership in [6] He is also a member of the NARAS Producers & Engineers Wing.[6] Lee celebrated his 15th year anniversary as a member of both organizations in 2012.


Prior to his career with Apogee/3D Realms, Lee attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1981–1983 as a Music Education major and was initiated into the Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia in the fall of 1982. He was also a member of the flag section of the University of Texas Longhorn Band and played bassoon in the UT Wind Ensemble and Concert Band. He left the University in 1983 and went to work for the Internal Revenue Service's Austin Service Center with his wife, Brenda, whom he had married the same year. The two had a son, Nathan, in 1986. Lee and Brenda both worked at the IRS until 1993, when Lee joined Apogee Software's technical support department. He was promoted to the Music and Sound Director position in 1996. His wife, Brenda, is still employed with the IRS, working at the agency's office in Dallas.[6]

The Hack report

Before and briefly after moving to the Dallas area, Jackson published a monthly report that was distributed through the FidoNet network and the "hack-l" newsgroup of the Internet, called "The Hack Report.".[7] This report was distributed for free to sysop of any Bulletin Board System and to anyone else who offered files for download. It was an attempt to help users and sysops alike avoid "fraudulent programs." Malicious files that contained viruses or did harm to a system when executed were of course covered, but the report also covered programs which were either jokes or attempts to earn "download points" in exchange for uploading "new files," such as ones which had been edited with a hex editor to look like a new version but which were actually the same as the real current version. The report was published through much of 1992 and 1993, with the help of contributors from around the world. It earned coverage in the 1994 book "Cyberlife!", although the authors of the chapter in which it was featured called it "The 'Hacker' Report."[8]

O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships

In the early-to-mid 1990s, Lee Jackson competed in and won first-place honors in the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, held yearly at the O. Henry Museum in Austin, Texas. He won the prepared pun category twice ("Punniest of Show," 1992 and 1995) and the head-to-head competition once ("High Lies and Low Puns," now called the "Punslingers" category) in 1991. Jackson is also a charter member of Punsters United Nearly Yearly (a.k.a. "P.U.N.Y.),[9] a support group for punsters dedicated to holding the World Championships competition.


Lee began working a radio producer and on-air traffic and news reporter out of what was the Dallas / Fort Worth market of Metro Networks in 2004. He continued his position during the purchase of Metro Networks by Clear Channel Communications and stayed on during the eventual folding of Metro into Clear Channel's Total Traffic Network subsidiary in 2011. He primarily provided traffic reports on the 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. overnight shift for 1080 KRLD (AM) in Dallas from 2006 until late 2012, when poor health forced him to go on disability status.

Lee was one of many former 3D Realms employees who worked on the long-delayed Duke Nukem Forever and who attended the game's Happy Ending launch party held on June 11, 2011 at the Palladium Ballroom in Dallas,[10] along with his wife and son.

Games credited

See also


  1. ^ Lee Jackson – Interview by Brian Cowell Sonikmatter, May 25, 2000
  2. ^ Lee Jackson – Music To Play By GameSpy, Article by Ryan Kelly
  3. ^ Mobygames Balls of Steel entry
  4. ^ The Apogee FAQ, section, ROTT characters
  5. ^ "Official Duke Nukem 3D Xbox LIVE Arcade Trailer".  
  6. ^ a b c Lee Jackson – Music To Play By GameSpy, Article by Ryan Kelly
  7. ^ Jackson, Lee. "The Hack Report for February, 1993". Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ Summit, Paul M. & Summit, Mary J. "Chapter 14: Hackers: Pirates or Patriots?". In Abraham, Marla; Piga, Rosie & Williams, Joe. Cyberlife!. Sams Publishing. pp. 348–350.  
  9. ^ P.U.N.Y. Group
  10. ^ Goodbye Duke Nukem, Article by Joe Siegler

External links

  • Lee Jackson at the Internet Movie Database
  • Lee Jackson at GiantBomb
  • Lee Jackson at MobyGames
  • Lee Jackson interview at GameSpy
  • Goodbye Duke Nukem at A Cup of Joe

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