Composer Angelo Badalamenti has died. Known for his collaborations with David Lynch, including the haunting Twin Peaks score, Badalamenti was 85.
Badalamenti‘s niece broke the news of his passing to The Hollywood Reporter. Born in Brooklyn on March 22, 1937 to Italian immigrants, Badalamenti graduated from the Manhattan School of Music with a master’s degree in 1960. When a Christmas musical he’d written for schoolchildren was broadcast by PBS station WNET in 1964, he came to the attention of a music publisher, and went on to arrange and compose a number of songs, many under the alias Andy Badale. His first work for the movies came in 1973, when he composed the score for the Ossie Davis-directed blaxploitation movie Gordon’s War.
Badalamenti came into David Lynch‘s orbit when he was hired as Isabella Rossellini‘s vocal coach in 1986’s Blue Velvet. He was asked to write a song for the film, which became the torch song “Mysteries of Love”, sung in the film by the late Julee Cruise. Lynch was so impressed by Badalamenti‘s work that he brought him on as the film’s composer, and collaborated with him on many subsequent projects, including Wild at Heart, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, and, most famously, Twin Peaks. Badalamenti composed the theme for the show before Lynch had shot a single frame, relying only on Lynch’s description of a scene of “dark woods with an owl in the background and a cloud over the moon and sycamore trees are blowing very gently…a beautiful troubled girl is coming out of the woods, walking toward the camera”. He returned for Lynch‘s subsequent Twin Peaks works, the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and the 2017 Showtime revival Twin Peaks: The Return. Badalamenti also made a few on-screen appearances in Lynch’s work, appearing as Rossellini‘s pianist in Blue Velvet and as an espresso-loving gangster in Mulholland Drive.
Badalamenti‘s success with Lynch led him to become a sought-after film composer; his notable scores include A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The City of Lost Children, The Beach, Cabin Fever, A Very Long Engagement, and A Late Quartet. He also composed for TV; in addition to Twin Peaks and Lynch’s short-lived surrealist sitcom On the Air, he composed the themes for Profiler and Inside the Actors Studio. He also composed the stirring theme for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Badalamenti died Sunday in his home in Lincoln Park, New Jersey. He is survived by his wife, Lonny, who he married in 1968, and his daughter, Danielle.