October 4, 2022
Vangelis, Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, dies, death

It brings us much sadness to report that Vangelis, the electronic music pioneer and three-time Grammy nominee, and composer for Blade Runner, has passed away. Vangelis died Tuesday at a hospital in Paris. His assistant, Lefteris Zermas, reported Vangelis’ passing to The Washington Post. He was 79. The cause of death has not been released.

Born in 1943 with musical talent flowing through his veins, Vangelis started playing piano at the tender age of three but never learned how to read or write music in an official capacity. One of Vangelis’ most notable contributions to the film industry includes producing Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner score. Vangelis’s dystopian score provided an unforgettable and vivid atmosphere for Scott’s film, and so the pair reteamed ten years later for 1492: Conquest of Paradise.

Other outstanding scores by Vangelis include music for Costa-Gavras’ Missing, Roger Donaldson’s The Bounty, Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon, and Oliver Stone’s Alexander. Never hard up for work, Vangelis turned projects down if he didn’t feel a pull toward the material. One of his most iconic arrangements was the theme for Chariots of Fire, which spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track sold 3 million copies within a year and was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys. The song had such an impact that it played during the winners’ medal presentation ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“It was a risky idea, but we went with it rather than have a period symphonic score. It’s become iconic film music — perhaps in the top 10 famous soundtracks of all time — which is good because the music is about 30 percent of a film,” Chariots of Fire director Hugh Hudson said in an interview with The Jewish Journal.

In addition to his film work, Vangelis partnered with Yes lead singer Jon Anderson and released four albums under Jon & Vangelis. The duo produced music from 1980 through 1991, with songs like “I’ll Find My Way Home,” “I Hear You Now,” and “Deborah” being among some of their most popular songs.

Vangelis’ work was also popular with the people of NASA. His 2001 choral symphony Mythodea was used by NASA to accompany the Mars Odyssey mission that year, and he arranged music for the memorial of Stephen Hawking in 2018.

Vangelis did not favor the spotlight, but his work and memory will live on through his family, friends, and fans. We wish Mr. Vangelis a safe passage to the Great Beyond and will always cherish his work.

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