G. K. Venkatesh was a prominent composer of film music in Kannada cinema during the 1960s, 1970s and until the late 1980s. He also composed music for Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu movies. He produced numerous master pieces of Kannada film music. He learned veena from his elder brother G. K. S. Pathi. As a teenager, he played Veena for the great music directors such as S. V. Venkatraman, S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and C. R. Subburaman. He became a close friend to M. S. Viswanathan (MSV) while working under S. M. Subbaiah Naidu during the late 1940s. When N. S. Krishnan offered an opportunity to M. S. Viswanathan and T. K. Ramamoorthy to compose music for Panam (1952) for Madras Pictures, GKV became a part of their troupe. In 1952, he composed music independently for a Malayalam film, which was also dubbed in Tamil as Nadigai. In 1955, he started to compose music for a Kannada film named Sodari. Since then he became a much sought after and one of the successful music directors in Kannada films along with T. G. Lingappa and Vijaya Bhaskar. He was showered with offers where he composed music from Ohileshwara (1955) till Kalitaaroo Henne (1963) in a row. He came back to Tamil films in 1964 for Thirumagal Films movie Magale Un Samathu. Since then he began to compose music for both Kannada and Tamil films. He composed music for 51 films in which Dr. Rajkumar played the lead role. Ilaiyaraaja was hired as an assistant by GKV, an event that marked the entry of Ilaiyaraaja into film music composition and direction. Ilaiyaraaja assisted GKV in 200 Kannada film projects. GKV had a small part to play in AVM Productions's Mella Thirandhathu Kadhavu in 1986 in which he acted in the role of Mohan's musician father. During the fledgling days of Kannada film movement, he produced movies such as "Ranadheera Kantheerava (1960)", "Immadi Pulikeshi(1968)" in partnership with other artists. In 1987, he produced the Ramarajan and Revathi starrer Gramathu Minnal Tamil film.