Grammy-Winning Film Composer Angelo Badalamenti Dies Aged 85

Badalamenti composed the soundtracks for such films as ‘Mulholland Drive,’ ‘The Straight Story,’ ‘Blue Velvet,’ and the ‘Twin Peaks’ series.

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Angelo Badalamenti - Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Angelo Badalamenti - Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Lauded, Grammy-winning composer Angelo Badalamenti has died at the age of 85. The New York native, who had a recording career of more than 55 years, was best known for his work with director David Lynch, notably the soundtracks for such films as Mulholland Drive, The Straight Story, Blue Velvet, and the Twin Peaks scores.

A statement read: “The family of Composer Angelo Badalamenti, best known for his work with Director David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet) confirms that the Composer, loving husband, father and grandfather passed away on December 11th, 2022, peacefully of natural causes, surrounded by his family. The family appreciates their privacy at this time.”

Admired by filmgoers and his musical peers alike, Badalamenti won his Grammy in 1990 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the “Twin Peaks Theme.” He also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of the World Soundtrack Awards in 2008, and ASCAP’s Henry Mancini Award in 2011.

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Pop fans of the 1990s also fondly recall his collaboration with Tim Booth of long-running British band James, under the name Booth and the Bad Angel. Their 1995 album of that title featured Bernard Butler on guitar and produced the UK Top 30 single “I Believe.” On hearing of the composer’s passing, Booth posted: “Tonight I will raise my glass to my beautiful friend, the Bad Angel, Angelo Badalamenti. He taught me many things but primarily how to Enjoy the recording process. We laughed from the beginning to the end of the record we made together, never had a disagreement. I love him.”

He Ain't Comin' Home No More

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Born in New York on March 22, 1937, Badalamenti showed early aptitude on the piano, and his work was being recorded from as early as 1962. As a composer, his early credits were as Andy Badale or Andy Balaele, including “Escapade” for jazz pianist Wynton Kelly’s 1964 Verve album It’s All Right! and both “I Hold No Grudge” and “He Ain’t Comin’ Home No More” for Nina Simone’s noted 1967 album High Priestess of Soul. He had songs recorded by Nancy Wilson, Dee Dee Warwick, Shirley Bassey, Della Reese, Melba Moore, and many others.

Badalamenti’s first full soundtrack was for the 1973 picture Gordon’s War, but a significant breakthrough came when he first worked with Lynch to create the suitably atmospheric score for the 1986 film Blue Velvet. Many other projects with the filmmaker ensued, most famously on the Twin Peaks projects but also Lynch’s Wild At Heart, Lost Highway, and the aforementioned The Straight Story and Mulholland Drive.

Badalamenti’s other high-profile credits included Holy Smoke!, The Beach (for which he featured on Orbital’s recording of his track “Beached”) and the 2006 reimagining of The Wicker Man. His last film was 2018’s Between Worlds, for which he wrote the main theme.

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