The music world just lost one of its more influential figures. Deadline reports that Vangelis, the composer behind the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire, has died in France at the age of 79. He broke ground in music by mixing synthesizers with jazz, orchestral work and other styles that are normally at odds with each other. He helped the film industry break free from its reliance on classical or pop soundtracks, joining artists such as Brian Eno and Jean-Michel Jarre in defining both electronic music as a whole as well as subgenres such as ambient and new-age.
Vangelis is synonymous with sci-fi thanks to his iconic Blade Runner soundtrack, but he was also an advocate of space exploration, producing multiple albums in tribute to great missions. He helped create Carl Sagan’s 1980 Cosmos TV series, wrote Mythodea to celebrate NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission in 2001, and produced a tribute to the Rosetta comet probe in 2016. His latest full-length album, 2021 Juno to Jupiter , honored his eponymous spacecraft as it was to shed more light on the gas giant. He received NASA’s Public Service Medal in 2003.
The musician was born in Greece in 1943 as Evangelos Odessey Papathanassiou. He began his music career in pop and soundtracks in the mid-1960s, but it was his forays into electronic music in the 1970s that helped him develop his signature style. Cosmos, Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner cemented his reputation, while high profile projects such as 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Alexander gained more attention.
Vangelis leaves a strong legacy. In addition to his role in Hollywood, you can hear his influence with electronic artists such as Robert Rich and Steve Roach. Even modern artists outside his core genre, such as Armin van Buuren and Run the Jewels’ El-P, call him a hero. He will be missed, but echoes of his sound can be heard for decades to come.
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