James Thomas (Tom) MacCluskey Jr.
1931 - 2020
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September 29, 1931 - August 16, 2020

Tom MacCluskey was surrounded by family as he quietly passed away from cancer on August 16 in his Durango, CO home.

As a Colorado native and Grammy-winner Tom MacCluskey began performing professionally at age 14 in 1945 as a jazz drummer. Nocturnal jazz pursuits didn't jive well with high school homework, so by 1948, he was a full-time drummer in an R&B/bebop band touring the Midwest. He eased over to the piano several years later even as friends teased him he never quite learned the fundamentals of "proper" keyboard playing.

After graduating from Boulder High School in 1949 and the University of Colorado in 1953, Tom entered the Navy where he served as a multi-engine pilot and flight instructor. Everything he did revolve around music after the Navy. A few of many career highlights:

- Cellist in the Pensacola (FL) Symphony Orchestra

- Assistant Professor of Theory & Music Analysis at the University of Colorado while completing a Master's degree

- Professor and Music Department Chair at Colorado Women's College

- Denver Rocky Mountain News Music Editor, Critic, and Columnist writing more than 1600 articles, reviews, and columns

- Notable mentions in magazines such as The New Yorker referring to Tom as "The first musicologist to write valid, in-depth analyses of rock music."

- Co-authored LP series World of Popular Music used by teachers in public schools nationwide

The 1970s saw Tom continue in academia as he lectured for the U.S. Information Agency in Washington DC, Europe and Japan. He also presented regularly at more than 25 universities and colleges. He also received the Colorado Governor's Award for the Arts and the Colorado Music Educator of the Year Award.

At age 50, Tom's passions shifted to digital music editing. He edited music for Soundstream Studio at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and later at the RCA/BMG Studios in New York City. During his 17 years in the recording industry, he edited, recorded, remastered, and occasionally even produced more than 1,000 projects by many world-renowned artists. In the recording industry, Tom was known as the "granddaddy" of all digital music editors. Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis referred to him as "Dr. Splice" and the "Splice King."

Nominated for four Grammy Awards between 1988 and 2000, Tom won a Grammy in 1996 for remastering nearly all of the recordings made by violinist of the 20th Century, Jascha Heifetz.

In 2000, Tom retired near the beautiful James Ranch outside Durango. He became very active as a solo pianist and a combo-leader, playing at the Mahogany Grille, Jean Pierre's Restaurant, the Cyprus Café, Durango Arts Center, and many others. Over 19 years he was a passionate host of the Sunday Morning Mostly Classical Music Program on Fort Lewis College's radio station, KDUR, producing over 450 3-hour programs. Meanwhile, he stayed active as a lecturer and active board member.

Tom confessed that he had always dreamed of being a rancher. In his later years, he volunteered at the James Ranch, exercising mosquito control, feeding horses, and comforting cattle. He earned titles such as "Skeeter Nator" and "Equestrian Dietary Technician."

Tom is preceded in death by Sisters Maureen and Carol Sue, former Wife Audrey, Grandchildren Tait, and Viviana. He is survived by Lady Partner Kriss, former Wives Shirley and Jeanine; 6 Children - Karen, Philip (Eden), Lisa, Chad (Julie), Joel (Julie), and Brooke (Trent); 7 Grandchildren - Zuri (Rachel), Terra, Kelia, Christopher, Gabrielle, Satria, Adelaide, and Jasmine.

Tom's unique legacies will be remembered by his family, many friends, and professionals. He was cremated at Hood Mortuary in Durango. Celebration of Life memorials will be held at later dates.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Durango Herald on Sep. 1, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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3 entries
September 7, 2020
It was a pleasure having you on KDUR all these years. I'll miss the shows we did together during membership drives, and the musical conversations we had. I regret not taking you up on your offer to walk the grounds of the James Ranch with you. I'll miss you TMAC.
Bryant Liggett
September 7, 2020
I only knew Tom thru Kriss and the Mancos Valley Chorus. I was always pleased to see him smile during a performance and thrilled when he would come up to me afterwards and say we sounded beautiful. Thanks, Tom.
Marian Rohman
September 3, 2020
Dad - sure hope you're having fun where ever you are! Say 'hi' to mom for me. Luv you! Karen M
Karen MacCluskey
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