Gary Calamar is an American DJ and Grammy Award-nominated film and television music supervisor whose credits include Six Feet Under, House, True Blood, Dexter and Varsity Blues. He also hosts a long-running program on the influential radio station KCRW in Santa Monica, CA.
Raised in Yonkers, NY, Calamar developed an early fascination with music and radio by listening to WNEW-FM. He told journalist Tony Pierce in a 2007 interview: "I ...was the kid who kept a transistor radio under his pillow. I was a big fan of WNEW-FM and their amazing staff of DJ's. I remember Scott Muni, Pete Fornatelle, Allison Steel 'The Night Bird' and Dave Herman. I was listening when John Lennon surprised Dennis Elsas on the air and guest DJ'd."
Calamar migrated to Los Angeles in the early 1980s. His intense interest in music eventually led him to manage Los Angeles-area boutique record stores Licorice Pizza, Moby Disc and Rhino Records. It was at Licorice Pizza that he met musician Jeff Davis. Calamar was enlisted to manage Davis' band, The Balancing Act, who went on to release three critically acclaimed albums on IRS Records.
In addition to his record store work, Calamar volunteered in the music library of highly influential NPR station KCRW in the early 1990s, opening mail and filing CDs.
He quickly made his way on to the airwaves. He described his transition from volunteer to DJ to Tony Pierce: "I got to know Chris Douridas who was music director and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic at the time. One day he casually mentioned that they were looking for a Saturday-Sunday overnight DJ... I dropped to my knees and begged Chris to give me a shot...and he did."
Calamar's Sunday night radio program (known as The Open Road until a KCRW policy change in 2008 eliminated music show names) features a blend of contemporary and classic rock, pop, and folk music. He calls it "adventurous pop music both timely and timeless". He has also conducted on-air interviews with iconic musical figures including Brian Wilson, Lucinda Williams, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips as well as film composers Elmer Bernstein, Thomas Newman, Lalo Schifrin and Danny Elfman.
Calamar cites the 1998 film Slums Of Beverly Hills as his first major break in the world of music supervision. The following year he co-supervised the number one hit movie Varsity Blues. Both films were co-supervised with G. Marq Roswell whom Calamar has called a mentor. In 2001, he and then-professional-partner Thomas Golubić were given the opportunity to work on an HBO series called Six Feet Under, created by American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball. The show became hugely influential, as did its soundtracks. Calamar and Golubic were nominated for Grammy Awards for volumes 1 and 2 of the Six Feet Under soundtracks that they produced. The final scene in the last episode of Six Feet Under featured the track "Breathe Me" by Sia Furler. The singer often credits this placement as a major event in her career, leading her to both a record deal and wider fame.
In 2006, Calamar founded Go Music to manage his various music supervision projects and continues to run the company with long-time colleague Alyson Vidoli.
The success of Six Feet Under brought Calamar wide recognition as a music supervisor, leading to his work in some of the most popular and critically acclaimed shows on television; House, True Blood, Dexter, Weeds, and Entourage. He has also continued his work in film, music supervising the Sundance Award-winning documentary God Grew Tired Of Us: The Story Of The Los Boys Of Sudan (2006) as well as the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor film I Love You Phillip Morris (2009).
In 2008, Calamar began work on the Alan Ball HBO series, True Blood, a vampire drama set in Northern Louisiana. The soundtrack albums he produced for the series have been nominated for Grammy Awards in both 2010 and 2011. Volume 3 of the True Blood soundtrack album is slated for release in the fall of 2011 and will include a cover of the Zombies classic "She's Not There" by Nick Cave and Neko Case, which Calamar put together with producer CC Adcock. Other shows he is currently working on include Peabody Award winner Men Of A Certain Age, Wilfred (with co-supervisor Alyson Vidoli), and Death Valley (again with co-supervisor Alyson Vidoli) as well as continuing work on House and Dexter.
In the spring of 2010, Calamar's first book was published by Sterling Publishing -- Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again -- co-authored by music journalist Phil Gallo. The lavishly-illustrated volume features a foreword by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and tells the story of the development of record stores.
In 2011, Gary Calamar was honored as "Music Supervisor Of The Year (Television)" by his colleagues in the Guild Of Music Supervisors.
Gary Calamar lives with his wife Ali and daughter Zoe in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles.