Photo: Kapetan Nikolios

‘Blade Runner’ + ‘Chariots Of Fire’ Composer Vangelis: Dead At 79

According to The Associated Press, Vangelis – the composer who scored Blade RunnerChariots of Fire, and many other films – has died. He was 79 years of age.

Born Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, Vangelis was largely a self-taught musician who found early success in Greek rock bands Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child, the latter of which sold 2,000,000+ million copies before disbanding in 1972. One of his earliest film scores, written while he was still in Aphrodite’s Child, was for a French nature documentary called L’Apocalypse des animaux.

One of the innovators in electronic music, Vangelis is, perhaps, best known for his work on Chariots of Fire and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Upon the release of the Harrison Ford–featured film Vangelis’ score was as essential as Ford’s character Rick Deckard in bringing the futuristic film noir to life. In the year’s following the film, it’s considered to be a hallmark in the birth of electronic music.

Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire compositions earned him the 1981 Academy Award for Best Original Score and the soundtrack album reached #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in April 1982. “Titles,” the film’s opening theme topped the Billboard Hot 100 the following month and was often featured at the Olympic Games.

In 1973, Vangelis started his solo artist career with his Fais que ton rêve soit plus long que la nuit (Make Your Dream Last Longer Than the Night) LP. Following the departure of keyboardist Rick Wakeman during the ’70s, the Greek musician was widely rumored to join the prog-rock band Yes, but after rehearsing with them for months, Vangelis decided not to join the group. He and Yes lead vocalist Jon Anderson reunited in the ’80s, and went on to release several albums together as Jon & Vangelis.

Inspired by the mission of NASA’s Juno spacecraft and featuring soprano Angela Gheorghiu, Vangelis released his final album Juno to Jupiter in September 2021 on Decca Records.

Greece’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis,, eulogized Vangelis on Twitter. writing “Vangelis Papathanassíou is no longer with us. For the whole world, the sad news states that the world music firm has lost the international Vangelis. The protagonist of electronic sound, the Oscars, the Myth and the great hits.” “For us Greeks, however, knowing that his second name was Odysseus, means that he began his long journey in the Roads of Fire. From there he will always send us his notes.”

Nikos Dendias, the foreign minister of Greece, tweeted, “Vangelis Papathanassíou was a great Greek composer who excelled at a global level. We say goodbye with a big ‘thank you’ for what he offered to Music, Culture and Greece.”

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Author: Saul Goode

Photo: Kapetan Nikolios