Greek electronic composer Vangelis has slooowly ran into the great beyond, presumably with an inspirational piano melody in the background, aged 79. Musically curious from childhood, he eschewed proper musical education as he felt it would impede his identity as an artist. He formed his first band, which largely performed covers, in the early 60s before turning to composing for several Greek films and forming prog rock band Aphrodite’s Child alongside Demis Roussos. Though successful across Europe with the Pachelbel-inspired “Rain and Tears”, Vangelis felt constrained by the world of commercial pop and turned to developing himself as a serious artist.

Vangelis set up Nemo Studios, where he developed his own synthesizer and released numerous experimental albums (one of the tracks on them would later be used for the Cosmos theme), along with continuing to compose scores for films and TV. He agreed to do the music for Chariots of Fire as he was drawn in by the project’s humble Olympics theme, and his electronic music proved a sharp contrast from typical orchestral film scores of the time while still nailing the mood and giving inspirational slo-mo sports montages their go-to track in the decades since. The 80s pop charts were not kind to instrumentals – no instrumental topped the UK charts that decade – yet the theme’s cultural heft was such that it and the Miami Vice theme were the only songs to achieve the feat in the US. If an atypical charttopper, it certainly was a deserving one. So of fucking course it was followed by seven weeks of “Ebony and Ivory”.

His work for Blade Runner earned him similar acclaim for capturing a much more desolate atmosphere, and afterwards he continued to compose for both himself and other films. After previously rebuffing an offer to join Yes, he and Jon Anderson united and had a major hit in 1981 with “I’ll Find My Way Home”. Another song I can add to my recurring “good tune, annoying it wasn’t a US hit so I didn’t know it before” chagrin. He retooled the Chariots of Fire theme for the 2012 London Olympics, and an interest in space was a recurring thread in his later works, which included a score used for Stephen Hawking’s memorial. Music theme team Soundtrack Of Our Lives stands alone in benefitting from the end of Vangelis.

29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022, aged 79
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