Angelo Badalamenti, the famed composer who created haunting music for David Lynch projects including Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, has died aged 85.
Badalamenti died Sunday of natural causes, surrounded by family at his New Jersey home, his niece told The Hollywood Reporter.
Lynch and Bandalamenti would become close friends and collaborators, working together on Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway, The Straight Story and Mulholland Drive. Badalamenti also appeared on screen as coffee-loving mobster Luigi Castigliane in Mulholland Drive and played piano with Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet.
The classically trained musician has also worked with Nina Simone, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, Marianne Faithfull, Liza Minnelli, Pet Shop Boys and LL Cool J over his varied career, and has composed such themes as Inside the Actors Studio and the 1992 Olympics.
On 1986’s Blue Velvet, his first collaboration with Lynch, he was brought in to work as a vocal coach for Rossellini. Lynch asked him to write a melody for the score, saying “let it float like the tides of the ocean, make it collect space and time, timeless and endless” – which became the song Mysteries of Love, performed by Julee Cruise. Eventually, Lynch commissioned him to write the film’s score, asking Badalamenti to be “like Shostakovich, be very Russian, but make it the nicest thing but make it dark and a bit scary”.
Badalamenti wrote the music for most of Twin Peaks without having seen any of the footage. In 2018, Badalamenti recalled writing Laura Palmer’s theme with Lynch: “David came into 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 didn’t draw anything, but it’s like you’re in a dark wood with an owl in the background and a cloud above the moon and sycamores are blowing very softly’…he said, ‘A troubled beautiful girl comes out of the woods, walking towards the camera…’ I played the sounds he inspired.
“The notes have just come out. David was dumbfounded, as was I. The hairs on his arms were up and he had tears in his eyes: “I see Twin Peaks. I understood.’ I said, ‘I’m going to go home and work there.’ ‘Work on it?! Don’t change a note. And of course, I never did.
Badalamenti would receive a Grammy Award and three Emmy Award nominations for his work on Twin Peaks, and the soundtrack went gold in 25 countries.
He would sometimes visit Lynch sets to play live music during filming so the actors “could feel the vibe”. His intuition for reading the atmosphere was a big inspiration for the filmmaker, who told the New York Times in 2005: “I sit down with Angelo and talk to him about a scene and he starts playing those words on the piano… when we started working together we had a kind of instant rapport – me knowing nothing about music but really interested in ambiance and sound effects. sound effects and music while working with Angelo, how close they are to each other.
Born in Brooklyn in 1937, Badalamenti played piano and French horn as a teenager before heading to music school on a full scholarship. He graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 1960. During college vacations, he accompanied artists to resorts in the Catskill Mountains. “I had to play a lot of standards, so I learned a wide range of music,” he said in 2019. “I had to learn them very quickly, and learn so many different types of music a been a huge help later in my career.”
He eventually landed a job with a music publisher, which saw him write songs for artists such as Shirley Bassey and Nina Simone, under the pen name Andy Badale. His first film score was for Gordon’s War in 1973. His third film score was Blue Velvet from 1986.
Badalamenti, Lynch and Cruise released two albums, Floating Into the Night in 1989 and The Voice of Love in 1993. He and Lynch also recorded a jazz album, Thought Gang, in the early 1990s, which was not released. before two decades.
He would later work with Paul Schrader on The Comfort of Strangers, Forever Mine, Auto Focus and Dominion, Jean-Pierre Jeunet on The City of Lost Children and A Very Long Engagement, Jane Campion on Holy Smoke, Danny Boyle on The Beach and Eli . Roth on cabin fever.
His music has been used in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Secretary, the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, and A Late Quartet.
Badalamenti received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 World Soundtrack Awards and the prestigious Henry Mancini Award in 2011, presented to him by Lynch.
He is survived by his wife Lonny and his daughter Danielle.