Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet Composer Dies at 85

Angelo Badalamenti worked with David Lynch on numerous projects
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2022 6:00 PM CST

Angelo Badalamenti, a classically trained composer best known for the haunting Twin Peaks soundtrack and his other work with director David Lynch, has died. Niece Francesca Badalamenti tells the Hollywood Reporter that the 85-year-old died of natural causes Sunday, surrounded by family at his New Jersey home. Badalamenti was born in 1937 in Brooklyn, where his father, an immigrant from Sicily, owned a fish market. After playing French horn and piano in his high school, he went to the Eastman School of Music on a full scholarship. He taught music at a junior high school in Brooklyn and landed a job at a music publisher after a Christmas musical he composed for students was broadcast by a PBS station in 1964.

Badalamenti accompanied musicians at Catskill resorts during summers when he was at college. He said in 2019 that the wide variety of music he learned then had been a "tremendous help" in his career, the Guardian reports. He worked with artists including Shirley Bassey, Nina Simone, David Bowie, the Pet Shop Boys, and LL Cool J. His first project with Lynch was Blue Velvet in 1986. It was only his third film score, but dozens more followed, including several more collaborations with Lynch. He also had minor roles in Blue Velvet and another Lynch movie, Mulholland Drive.

Lynch and Badalamenti discussed their process with the New York Times in 2005. "I sit with Angelo and talk to him about a scene and he begins to play those words on the piano," Lynch said. "Sometimes we would even get together and make stuff up on the piano, and before you know it that leads to the idea for a scene or a character." Lynch "would sit next to me at a keyboard describing what he was thinking as I would improvise the score," Badalamenti said. "Almost all of Twin Peaks was written without me seeing a single frame, at least in the pilot." Badalamenti won a Grammy and received three Emmy nominations for his work on Twin Peaks. In 2011, he won the prestigious Henry Mancini Award for his work in TV and film music. (More obituary stories.)

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