Sheridon Stokes
Artist's Title
Emeritus Professor of Flute, UCLA
Instruments Select



In Memoriam

1935 - 2022

by Charles Carr


The worlds of music and academia along with countless family, friends, and colleagues mourn the passing of Sheridon Stokes, who died July 4 at Community Hospital of the Monterey, CA.

Son of longtime Los Angeles Philharmonic clarinetist Franklyn Stokes, and Helena Stokes, Sheridon was born in Los Angeles in 1935. He began his professional career in 1951 at age 16 when he was hired as a piccolo player in the Denver Symphony. At age 19, he became the youngest contracted musician ever to join the 20th Century Fox studio orchestra under the legendary Hollywood composer and conductor Alfred Newman.

In 1958, Sheridon was drafted in the US Army where he performed with the 7th Army Symphony in Germany.

Returning to the U.S., Sheridon quickly became a coveted "first call" recording artist, performing on literally hundreds of movies and television shows over a career that would span more than six decades. He worked closely with virtually every legendary composer of the time, including Lalo Schifrin for whom he performed the signature flute theme for the television series "Mission: Impossible" in 1967. The two collaborated on many projects in the decades that followed, including the Academy Award-nominated score for the film "The Fox" in 1968. Stokes was also John Williams' principal flute for many years and performed on some of Williams' most famous scores including solos on "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "1941," "E.T.," and "The Witches of Eastwick." In the early 1970s, he also premiered Williams' Flute Concerto at UCLA, one of the composer's first works for the concert hall.

Sheridon was also solo flute at the Academy Awards in 1997, 1998, and 2008. At the 1998 ceremony he played the famous penny whistle solo from the film "Titanic" for the song “My Heart Will Go On” with Céline Dion.

In the 1970s Sheridon began teaching flute at UCLA where he would remain for 45 years and eventually be named Senior Lecturer and Professor Emeritus. He took immense joy in engaging with young minds, teaching them not only the tricks of the instrument, but of the business they were about to enter. He often took his classes out on his sailboat as a post-graduation treat. Many of Stokes' students went on to become members of prestigious symphony orchestras around the world.

Sheridon wrote several music books including the mainstays, "The Illustrated Method for Flute" and "Special Effects for Flute (with Richard A. Condon)." His works are still considered canonic by many musicians to this day. At the time of his passing he was wrapping up work on his own memoir, "Sheridon Stokes: The Hollywood Flutist, Stories from the Recording Business."

Stokes received the MVP award in flute from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1980, 1981, and 1982, and in 1983 received the organization's Emeritus award. He won the National Flute Association’s International Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

After retiring from the recording and teaching worlds, Sheridon remained busy traveling between residences in Westwood, CA and Bodega Bay, CA with his wife of more than 30 years, Ann Stokes, formerly a dancer with the Starlight Opera and a private tutor at St. Martin of Tours in Brentwood, CA. He and Ann, both sailing enthusiasts, continued to enjoy the sea.

Stokes regularly attended national flute and music industry conventions, frequently in his capacity as a longtime celebrity endorser for Pearl Flutes, where he would often perform original works. He relished speaking about his life in music and taught master classes around the world. In 2007 he was soloist in La Mancha, Spain with the Murcia Chamber Orchestra. In 2019 Stokes not only enjoyed but participated in a tribute concert in his honor at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles, where he performed world premiere works by German composer Jürgen Kramlofsky.

Stokes recently took part in the "L.A. Studio Legends" podcast series on The Legacy of John Williams ( He was also one of the guests of the video special "L.A. Studio Legends: The Reunion" (, where he joined former colleagues in an insightful and lively discussion about working in the recording industry.

Sheridon Stokes is survived by wife Ann Stokes, son Michael Stokes, daughter Sylvia Gray, sisters Marsi Stokes Caratti and Kathleen Stokes, and a large extended family.

A community of friends, past associates, and well wishers is currently active on Stokes' Facebook page ( The family encourages everyone to participate and share memories and personal anecdotes.