Another Twin Peaks Legend Has Died
Angelo Badalamenti, the composer of Twin Peaks’ iconic, darkly atmospheric score, has died at the age of 85. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the legendary musician, producer, and sometime actor died at his home in New Jersey. No cause of death has yet been reported. In addition to his work on the influential David Lynch show, Angelo Badalamenti had a long and distinguished career creating music for films like Dune and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, collaborating with some of the biggest pop stars of the 20th century, and even writing a theme for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.
Angelo Badalamenti was born in New York City to a working-class family of Sicilian descent. He showed an early aptitude at the piano, first learning to play his favored instrument at the age of eight (also becoming proficient at French horn). As a teenager, Badalamenti took jobs playing at resorts in the Catskills, learning to play the standards of American pop music and accompanying singers. In many ways, this experience must have been crucial to Angelo Badalamenti’s most famous work on Twin Peaks, and his frequent collaborations with filmmaker David Lynch.
After attending the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and then the Manhattan School of Music (where he received both Bachelors’s and Master’s degrees), Badalamenti eventually became involved in the film industry. Based on his experience with pop standards and accompanying lounge-style singers, Badalamenti was tapped by David Lynch as a vocal coach for Isabella Rosellini, who was starring in his 1986 thriller Blue Velvet. The two worked well together and wrote “Mysteries of Love,” which was performed by Julee Cruise and featured in the final scenes of the movie.
Angelo Badalamenti, David Lynch, and Julee Cruise would all come together again for Twin Peaks, the early 1990s supernatural thriller show broadcast by ABC. According to numerous interviews given by Angelo Badalamenti, much of the iconic score for the series was improvised as David Lynch described scenes from the show.
Cruise would appear numerous times on the show as a lounge singer performing at a roadhouse, including the hit single “Falling” which also served (minus vocals) as the theme song for the series.
Following the cancellation of the show in 1992, Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch would continue to work together, including on the companion film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and the revival of the show in 2017. The pair would produce a number of albums together, but Badalamenti’s work was not limited to those projects.
All told, Angelo Badalamenti is credited with nearly a hundred film scores, collaborations with musicians like Pet Shop Boys, David Bowie, Anthrax, and occasional acting performances.
The passing of Angelo Badalamenti is another of many Twin Peaks alumni that have recently deceased, including Julee Cruise, Kenneth Welsh (who played the villainous Windom Earle), Al Strobel (the one-armed Mike/Philip Gerard), Lenny Von Dohlen (the agoraphobic Harold Smith), and Margaret Coulson (who played the enigmatic Log Lady). The world is richer for all of Angelo Badalamenti’s work over the years. RIP.