Death of Vangelis, the Greek composer of the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner

DISAPPEARANCE – Musician and composer, Vangelis had composed the soundtrack of many Hollywood movies. He passed away at the age of 79.

Born Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassiou on March 29, 1943 in Greece, Vangelis was one of the pioneers of electronic music in the 1970s. He is 79 years old, the Greek Prime Minister announced on Thursday.

It was inaugurated in 1981 at the Academy Awards for the music of the film Chariots of Fire, directed by Briton Hugh Hudson. The voluminous and majestic theme will be repeated many times, in particular through advertisements, both for an American fast food chain, a car manufacturer, but also for the Red Cross. Twenty years later, he draws the theme of the World Cup, which takes place in South Korea and Japan.

Born on March 29, 1943 in Volos, in the region of Thessaly, he has been playing the piano from 4 years old. In the early 1960s he joined a jazz orchestra that would become successful under the name The Firminx. But it was in Paris, after the events of May 1968, that he composed his first hit, Rain & Tears, with the group Aphrodite’s Child, with singer Demis Roussos who would pursue a fine career in France. The lyrics of the song are signed by Boris Bergman, who becomes Alain Bashung’s collaborator ten years later. The group broke up in 1972 and only Vangelis completed the conception of the album 666, the flagship of what was then said to be progressive rock.

Vangelis in the studio in 1981, a pivotal year for the artist who would compose the soundtrack of the chariots of fire by Hugh Hudson. MEPL / Bridgeman images

Abyssal and Spatial Music

Film music soon became his main activity, still in Paris. The first production for which he composed in 1970 was Sex Power, by the journalist Chapier. The following year, he worked closely with documentary filmmaker Frédéric Rossif. In 1972, he released his first solo album, Make your dream longer than the night. Two years later, the British group Yes asked him to replace the virtuoso pianist Rick Wakeman, who had left to try the solo adventure. Vangelis declines the proposal and prefers to develop his own projects. This did not stop him from settling in London, where he composed the material for four solo albums produced under the sole name Vangelis.

His coronation at the 1982 Oscars, with William Hurt receiving the trophy in his stead, opened the doors of Hollywood wide to him. He becomes the favorite collaborator of Ridley Scott, who offers him the Blade Runner score the same year. Ten years later, the two men are working on 1492, the story of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America. He composed the score to Lune de Fiel for Roman Polanski in 1993, before retiring from film music.

There he returns in 2004 with the American Oliver Stone and the film Alexandre, which will be amply rewarded. He was a member of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival in 1991, chaired by Roman Polanski, the year Barton Fink won the Palme d’Or from the Coen brothers. His pioneering work on machines in the 1970s made this Greek musician with an international career one of the world pioneers of electronic music, just like Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk or Klaus Schulze.

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