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Angelo Badalamenti, 1937-2022

December 11, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

Composer Angelo Badalamenti died on December 11, 2022, at home in New Jersey after a short illness. He was 85.

Angelo Daniel Badalamenti was born in New York City in March 1937, the son of Italian immigrants from Sicily. A piano player from a young age, Badalamenti was already earning money as a pianist accompanying singers at resorts in the Catskill Mountains in his teens; he later studied at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and then at the Manhattan School of Music, graduating with a master’s degree in 1959.

He began his career as a songwriter, penning works for singers such as Nina Simone and Shirley Bassey using the pen name Andy Badale. He made his film music debut was early as 1973, scoring the blaxploitation action pic Gordon’s War, but his break came when he was hired to be Isabella Rossellini’s vocal coach for David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. Impressed with his work, Lynch asked Badalamenti to co-write the song “Mysteries of Love” for vocalist Julee Cruise, and then asked Badalamenti to composed the score for the entire film.

After their success on Blue Velvet, Badalamenti scored almost every David Lynch film thereafter, including Wild at Heart in 1990, Lost Highway in 1997, The Straight Story in 1999, and Mulholland Drive in 2001, but by far their most successful collaboration was on the surreal 1990 ABC TV series Twin Peaks. Badalamenti won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, and was nominated for an Emmy, for his dreamy, rapturous, iconic main theme, which is now regarded as one of the most famous theme in television history.

Other successful and popular works by Badalamenti included A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), Cousins (1989), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), The Comfort of Strangers (1990), The City of Lost Children (1995), Arlington Road (1999), The Beach (2000), Secretary (2002), A Very Long Engagement (2004), Dark Water (2005), and the 2013 war epic Stalingrad, as well as several other efforts for directors John D. Hancock and Paul Schrader. He also wrote the theme to the long-running documentary series Inside the Actors Studio.

In addition to his Emmy and Grammy nominations for Twin Peaks Badalamenti was nominated for one BAFTA Award, two Golden Globes, two César Awards in France, and two IFMCA Awards, as well as winning the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Soundtrack Awards in 2018. Badalamenti had been married to his wife Lonny since 1968 and had two daughters.

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