Angelo Badalamenti, the David Lynch composer whose music for Twin Peaks gave television one of its most haunting and memorable themes, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in New Jersey. He was 85.
His death was announced by family members.
“Today, no music,” Lynch said, in typical cryptic fashion, on his daily YouTube weather report before discussing the temperature.
Badalamenti, whose other collaborations with Lynch included Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and The Straight Story, also composed for such non-Lynch films as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and musical artists from Nina Simone and Shirley Bassey to David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Liza Minnelli.
Much of his Twin Peaks music (with lyrics by Lynch) was featured on the 1989 debut album of singer Julee Cruise titled Floating Into The Night. Included on that album was “Falling,” a version of the Twin Peaks main theme with vocals, and the sinister ballad “Into The Night” that figured prominently in the series.
The composer’s Grammy-winning soundtrack for Twin Peaks, which included the disquieting “Laura Palmer’s Theme,” secured Badalamenti and his music a place among the best known of composers and themes in TV history.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Badalamenti studied music at the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, where he received a Masters degree, before beginning his professional career as a music teacher, piano accompanist and songwriter. He launched his film work with scores for Gordon’s War in 1973 and Law and Disorder in ’74.
His lifelong collaboration with Lynch began in 1986, when the Eraserhead director hired him as a vocal coach for Blue Velvet star Isabella Rossellini. The pairing worked: Badalamenti ended up scoring the film and wrote the featured song “Mysteries of Love” with the director. (Badalamenti even appears onscreen in the film in a piano bar scene).
In the prolific career that followed, Badalamenti would compose themes for series and movies as disparate as Inside the Actors Studio, Profiler, Auto Focus, The Wicker Man and Cabin Fever. He wrote “The Flaming Arrow” torch theme for the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, and won a BAFTA for his The Comfort of Strangers score.
In an Instagram post, Badalamenti’s great-nephew wrote, “he has always been the most interesting man in the world to me. A true musical and artistic inspiration for me and countless others. Stayed true to his roots and family, never leaving North Jersey for LA. Not to mention the casual but mind blowing true stories from his life he never ran out of. He will truly be missed by many.”
Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.