Simon Brint, who has taken his own life aged 60, was a composer and the musical interpreter for a generation of comedians. He was also half of the cult comedy duo Raw Sex, and a celebrated nonconformist. Although he was never particularly happy in the limelight, he was known to many through the music he composed, for television comedy – a long list of shows, including The Comic Strip Presents ..., French & Saunders, Bottom, Absolutely Fabulous, Alexei Sayle's Stuff, The Lenny Henry Show, The Ruby Wax Show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience and A Bit of Fry & Laurie; for the long-running drama series London's Burning and Monarch of the Glen; and even for Blue Peter, a reworking of the theme tune that was used on the show between 1989 and 1994.
It was while he was working regularly at the Blitz club in London in the late 1970s that Simon first encountered the drummer Rowland Rivron and the pianist Rod Melvin. Together they moved round the corner to the Raymond Revuebar to become the house band for the newly formed Comic Strip club in 1980. When that group of comedians started making TV series, Simon was the natural choice to create the music for them. He had a phenomenal gift for interpreting mood through music, and an innate sense of humour which never let the music intrude on any jokes. It was a difficult trick to pull off, but it suited his particular style of creativity, a magpie talent for collecting lots of references and making them into something entirely new that made you appreciate things in a different way.
It was a talent that lent itself readily to the pastiches he wrote for French & Saunders, and it was on Dawn and Jennifer's show that the unlikely duo Raw Sex was born. Simon and Rowland played father and son Ken and Duane Bishop, the fictional remnants of Ken Bishop's Nice Twelve, who had found themselves in reduced circumstances and changed their name to appeal to a younger market. With his hearing aid working intermittently, and his drug-crazed son trying his hardest to finish the show and get to the pub, Ken held steady through the madness – swinging through all the styles from Latin lounge to hip-hop, always delivering "rhythm, value for money and punctuality".
Raw Sex developed as an act in its own right outside French & Saunders, with additions such as Kathy Burke as Duane's girlfriend, and Jakko Jakszyk as Eddie the crazed jazz guitarist. They were totally absurd and brilliant. While Rowland was the more demonstrative character of the pair, it was Simon's creation that held the deeper magic for me.
Simon was born in High Ham, Somerset. His father, Stephen, was from a large working-class family, and had lied about his age to join the army. His mother, Anne Tracey Watts, was the daughter of a high court judge and a former English scholar at St Anne's College, Oxford. They met in Austria after the second world war, where they were both involved in repatriating former PoWs. When the family moved from south Wales to Kent, Simon, aged 15, decided to stay on alone in Wales, and moved into a B&B near his school. Ostensibly this was to allow him to complete his O-levels, but his band at the time, a very stylish R&B outfit called the Blue Imperials, were also doing very well. A year later, he followed the family to Hythe, where he and his friend, Doug Chandler, persuaded the headteacher at Harvey grammar to excuse them from PE because they were both "physical weaklings with towering intellects" and would be better used preparing for school concerts.
They used their time to visit record shops and to float in and out of various musical projects, most successfully combining a bizarre cover version of Ennio Morricone's theme from For a Few Dollars More with Granny Takes a Trip by the Purple Gang to create Granny Takes a Few Dollars More. Simon went on to study English literature at Reading University, where he cut an eccentric figure on a Bernini bicycle fitted with a small engine (he never learned to drive). He became the social secretary's chief arbiter of taste when deciding which bands to bring to the university.
Graduating in 1972, he drifted happily, working in the studio of the artist Anthony Benjamin; playing and recording with the singer and tightrope walker Hermine Demoriane; dressing elephants as mammoths for the 1981 film Quest for Fire; and prop-making – on one occasion, when delivering a prop for Ken Campbell's 1979 production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the ICA, he was stopped by a policeman who asked what he had in his bag – "the secret of life," he replied. One of his first film compositions, a series of tape loops, was for a documentary about modern surrealist artists, Chance, History, Art (1980). He also co-wrote, with his longterm collaborator Simon Wallace, the music for the Oscar-winning short A Shocking Accident (1982).
In his personal life, Simon was an exquisite minimalist, and lived in spaces that were always painted several barely perceptibly different shades of grey. But although everything looked clean and empty and ordered, all the cupboards were bursting with stuff, absolutely chock-full of multitrack tapes, gizmos and instruments and millions of bits of recording equipment – perhaps that is a metaphor for the man. But he did have rigorous taste, especially in music – the minute he detected anything mediocre in the emotional integrity of what he was listening to, he became disaffected. Tom Waits was loved, and then suddenly dumped for "trying too hard".
He was selective with his friendship, too, but if you became his friend, he was very loyal, very good company, very amusing. We did lots of tours together. There is usually a scramble to sit next to the most interesting and open person on a tour bus – and Simon was always that man. He was so civilised and convivial, knew things I never knew, and would introduce me to things I'd never heard or seen: Pina Bausch, Gillian Welch, the Holy Modal Rounders. And he could be deliciously cruel about stuff he didn't like. That wince that said ,"Oh really, it just won't do", and then the trademark flick of his collar.
In 2004, with his old friend David Campbell (the social secretary from his days at Reading), and under the umbrella of Action for Music, Simon started to help unacknowledged musicians in Kenya record their music and get a return for their work. He had an extraordinary ear for talent, and a lot of the bands he chose to help then are the leading musicians playing in Kenya today. In parallel, he worked on Makutano Junction – a TV soap reaching 12 million east African viewers and the region's biggest show – both as a composer, and a mentor to composers. This was all done from a sea container under an avocado tree in Nairobi that he had converted into a studio.
In 2003, Simon married Amanda Cockerton, and they moved back to Somerset. My daughter, Simon's goddaughter, once remarked: "Everything thing about Simon is grey, except Amanda." He was the gentlest, kindest man, with extraordinary taste and a sublime, quirky talent that he was never really confident of. He is survived by Amanda, and four brothers.
• Simon Tracey Brint, composer and comedian, born 26 September 1950; died 29 May 2011