Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks Composer, Dead at 85

Badalamenti also scored Lynch films like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive

Angelo Badalamenti dead at 85
Angelo Badalamenti, photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

    Angelo Badalamenti, the renowned composer known for his work on Twin Peaks and several other David Lynch projects, has died at the age of 85.

    According to the fan site Welcome to Twin Peaks, several of Badalamenti’s family members confirmed his passing on Monday, December 12th. A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

    The Brooklyn native began working with Lynch after being brought on as a singing coach for Isabella Rossellini on the 1986 film Blue Velvet. He ended up serving multiple roles on Blue Velvet, including composing its score, serving as the music supervisor, and appearing in the film as a jazz lounge pianist.


    Badalamenti soon became Lynch’s go-to composer, creating the music for Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, and Mulholland Drive. For his work on Twin Peaks, Badalamenti won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1990.

    While speaking to Spirit & Flesh Magazine, Badalamenti recalled improvising the Twin Peaks title theme. “David came to my little office across from Carnegie Hall and said, ‘I have this idea for a show, Northwest Passage,'” Badalamenti said. “He sat next to me at the keyboard and said, ‘I haven’t shot anything, but it’s like you are in a dark woods with an owl in the background and a cloud over the moon and sycamore trees are blowing very gently…’ I started to press the keys for the opening chord to ‘Twin Peaks Love Theme,’ because it was the sound of that darkness. He said, ‘A beautiful troubled girl is coming out of the woods, walking towards the camera…'”

    Badalamenti continued, “I played the sounds he inspired. ‘And she comes closer and it reaches a climax and…’ I continued with the music as he continued the story. ‘And from this, we let her go back into the dark woods.’ The notes just came out. David was stunned, as was I. The hair on his arms was up and he had tears in his eyes: ‘I see Twin Peaks. I got it.’ I said, ‘I’ll go home and work on it.’ ‘Work on it?! Don’t change a note.’ And of course I never did.”


    In an interview with American Film Institute, Lynch gave his own description of how he would often start collaborating with Badalamenti even before shooting had begun. “I sit next to him and I talk to him, and he plays what I say,” Lynch explained. “I adjust if it’s not going a certain way, and he’ll keep playing. In a very short amount of time, he’s playing the thing that’s marrying to the ideas, and once he catches the right road, he goes.”

    Outside of his work with Lynch, Badalamenti scored films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Wicker Man.

    Badalamenti also made plenty of impact outside of film and television. He collaborated with David Bowie on a version of “A Foggy Day (in London Town)” for the Red Hot Organization’s George Gershwin tribute album in 1998 and arranged orchestration for Pet Shop Boys on 1987’s “It Couldn’t Happen Here” and 1990’s “This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave” and “Only the Wind.” In 1995, Badalamenti produced, composed, and performed on Marianne Faithfull’s album A Secret Life.


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