Speed Reads

Rest in Peace

Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti dies at 85

Angelo Badalamenti, the composer best known for his work with David Lynch on Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and other films and TV shows, died Sunday, his family said Monday. He was 85, and his death was attributed to natural causes. 

Badalmenti once called his collaboration with Lynch "my second-best marriage," and Lynch told the Los Angeles Times in 1990 that "some of the happiest moments I've ever had have been working with Angelo." The two met in 1986 when Badalamenti was brought on as a vocal coach for Isabella Rossellini on Blue Velvet. He stayed on to score the entire film and appeared in the movie as Rossellini's piano player under the stage name Andy Badale.

Badalmeni also wrote the song "Mysteries of Love" for Blue Velvet and found Julee Cruise to sing it. Cruise, who died earlier this year, would end up a frequent collaborator with Badalmenti, including on his seminal Twin Peaks soundtrack. That soundtrack hit No. 22 on the Billboard 200 album charts, and its "Twin Peaks Theme" earned Badalamenti the 1991 Grammy for pop instrumental performance.

"David felt that the music of Twin Peaks would have to cover a lot of ground, a wide range of moods: sadness, passion, ecstasy, love, tenderness, and violence," Badalamenti told Culture.org. "He asked me for music that would tear the hearts out of people."

Badalamenti was born in Brooklyn in 1937, the son of a fish market owner and musician. He grew up listening to Italian opera, started piano lessons at age 8, and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. His career as a composer began when a Christmas carol he wrote for the middle school he taught at was picked up by PBS. Badalamenti wrote songs for a few low-profile films and for Nina Simone and Nancy Wilson before he got his break on Blue Velvet.

Badalamenti composed music for other directors — Jane Campion's Holy Smoke!, Danny Boyle's The Beach, among other films, The Associated Press reports. He also worked with the Pet Shop Boys and David Bowie. But his Lynch collaborations stand out. Along with scoring Lynch's films, Badalamenti had a memorable cameo as a fussy, espresso-loving gangster in Mulholland Drive

"I always have one major question for a director when I compose a soundtrack: What do you want your audience to feel?" Badalamenti told NME in 2011. "Do you want to scare the s--t out of them? Squirm in their seat? Feel beautiful? And how they answer that question gives me cues to work on. I translate their words into music."