Cacavas was born in the US state of South Dakota. After graduating from Northwestern University in Illinois, he entered the Armed Forces and became an arranger with the United States Army Band in Washington, D.C. After his discharge, Cacavas moved to New York and began pursuing his career and continued composing and arranging.
In 1970, he and his family moved to London where he became an established film composer. He relocated his family to Beverly Hills in 1973, where he became a full-time composer for feature films and television.
He shared a common Greek heritage with Telly Savalas, and the two formed a friendship which led to collaborations. Cacavas not only worked on Savalas’ hit TV series “Kojak,” but also films the actor starred in, including “Pancho Villa” and “Horror Express.”
His music has also appeared on “Friends,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Magnum P. I.,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Perry Mason,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “X-Files,” “Frasier” and countless others.
In addition to composing, Cacavas was an accomplished writer. He wrote for shows like “Matlock,” “Columbo,” “Quincy,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Mrs. Columbo,” “The Gangster Chronicles,” “Lady Blue,” “The Four Seasons,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “Today’s FBI,” “The Equalizer” and “Bionic Woman.”
The obituary written by Cacavas’ family called him a “Greek Renaissance Man.” He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, their two daughters and son, and three grandchildren.
Donations for the John Cacavas Memorial can be made to the Aberdeen Public School Foundation (1224 South 3rd Street, Aberdeen, SD 57401) in his honor.