Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks composer and David Lynch collaborator, dies aged 85

Acclaimed film composer Angelo Badalamenti, best known for scoring director David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, has died aged 85. 

A statement from Badalamenti's family says: "The composer, loving husband, father and grandfather passed away on 11 December... peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by his family."

The classically-trained Grammy winner was one of Lynch's closest collaborators, helping to define the mood and tone of his critically lauded productions for film and television through music that was strikingly haunting, ethereal and moving. 

In the video above, taken from the 2007 documentary Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks, Badalamenti recalls how he composed one of the main themes from Twin Peaks, "Laura Palmer's Theme", in an improvisatory writing session with Lynch. He wrote the song in 20 minutes in a single take, while being guided by a narrative spoken out loud by the director.

Badalamenti received a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the "Twin Peaks Theme" in 1990. He was also given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Soundtrack Awards's Academy in 2008, and the Henry Mancini Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 2011.

In addition to his work with Lynch, Badalamenti composed scores for many other films, including The Wicker Man, The Beach and The City of Lost Children. He also collaborated with a variety of influential performers and artists throughout his career, including David Bowie, Nina Simone, Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Shirley Bassey, the Pet Shop Boys and LL Cool J. 

In a 2017 interview with Vulture, Lynch's music supervisor Dean Hurley shed some light on the fascinating creative partnership between Badalamenti and the acclaimed filmmaker. He recounted studying the MIDI notation for "Laura Palmer's Theme" and realizing that the notes clearly outlined two peaks on the piano roll. “The MIDI notation of ‘Laura Palmer’s Theme,’ you look at it and you’re like, ‘What’s this a picture of?’” Hurley recalls. “You look at it and it’s actually … Twin Peaks. Fucking eerie.”

He just started shouting, ‘It’s cosmic! It’s cosmic! It’s cosmic!’

In the image below, it's clearly visible how Badalamenti - entirely without realizing - composed a theme that contained a rising and falling motif, repeated twice, resembling two mountain peaks. Hurley recalls informing the composer and the director, much to their astonishment. “I showed David the photo and I was like, ‘What does this look like to you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, twin peaks. What about it?’” Hurley says. “And I told him what it was, and he just started shouting, ‘It’s cosmic! It’s cosmic! It’s cosmic!’ and then he was like, ‘That would make a great T-shirt.’ And then I sent it to Angelo, and Angelo was just like, ‘Whoa … this is scary … but very cool!”

“When I originally saw this it was like, ‘Man, this really speaks to what’s going on here,’” Hurley continued. “It’s ethereal, it’s spiritual, it is cosmic. The whole show and the whole concept is literally in the DNA of the music that was written before it was even filmed. I can’t think of a better poetic representation of their collaboration than that image.”


(Image credit: Angelo Badalamenti)
Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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