Angelo Badalamenti Dead at 85

    Angelo Badalamenti, the composer best known for collaborating with David Lynch on Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive, has died at 85, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A cause of death has not been disclosed.

    Born in Brooklyn in 1937, Badalamenti was drawn to music from an early age, learning to play the piano and eventually the French horn. As a teenager, he accompanied vocalists at resorts in the Catskill Mountains, before graduating with a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 1959. Badalamenti started working with David Lynch when he was hired as Isabella Rossellini’s vocal coach for 1986’s Blue Velvet, but ended up scoring and supervising the film’s soundtrack. He also appeared in the movie as a jazz lounge pianist under the name Andy Badale. Badalamenti went on to score Lynch’s films Wild at Heart, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, and Mulholland Drive, as well as the television series Twin Peaks, whose iconic title theme won the Best Pop Instrumental Performance Grammy Award in 1991.

    Badalamenti recalled improvising the Twin Peaks title theme in an interview with Spirit & Flesh Magazine, saying: “David came to my little office across from Carnegie Hall and said, ‘I have this idea for a show, Northwest Passage.’ He sat next to me at the keyboard and said, ‘I haven’t shot anything, but it’s like you are in a dark woods with an owl in the background and a cloud over the moon and sycamore trees are blowing very gently…’ I started to press the keys for the opening chord to ‘Twin Peaks Love Theme,’ because it was the sound of that darkness. He said, ‘A beautiful troubled girl is coming out of the woods, walking towards the camera…’”

    “I played the sounds he inspired,” he continued. “‘And she comes closer and it reaches a climax and…’ I continued with the music as he continued the story. ‘And from this, we let her go back into the dark woods.’ The notes just came out. David was stunned, as was I. The hair on his arms was up and he had tears in his eyes: ‘I see Twin Peaks. I got it.’ I said, ‘I’ll go home and work on it.’ ‘Work on it?! Don’t change a note.’ And of course I never did.”

    Badalamenti composed the scores for dozens of other films and series, including A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Wicker Man. He wrote the opening theme to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, and worked with artists like David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Nina Simone, Marianne Faithfull, among many others.

    In 2008, Badalamenti received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Soundtrack Awards, and the Henry Mancini Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 2011.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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