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The Composer for Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, and Other David Lynch Films, Angelo Badalamenti, Has Passed Away at The Age of 85

Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive were all haunted by the music of Angelo Badalamenti, who has passed away at the age of 85 after being well recognised as the composer’s behind such works.

According to his niece, who spoke to the Hollywood Reporter, Badalamenti passed away on Sunday of natural causes at his New Jersey home.

Lynch and Badalamenti became fast friends and frequent creative partners while working on the films Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, and Mulholland Drive. Badalamenti played the piano with Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet and also starred in the film as coffee-obsessed mobster Luigi Castigliane in Mulholland Drive.

In addition to his work with Nina Simone, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey, Marianne Faithfull, Liza Minnelli, Pet Shop Boys, and LL Cool J, the classically educated pianist produced the tunes for Inside the Actors Studio and the torch theme for the 1992 Olympic Games.

Angelo Badalamenti, David Lynch’s composer on Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and more, dies aged 85

His first film with Lynch was 1986’s Blue Velvet, where he had the role of vocal coach for Rossellini. After telling him to “let it float like the tides of the ocean, make it gather space and time, eternal and boundless,” Lynch commissioned him to compose the theme song, Mysteries of Love, which was later recorded by Julee Cruise.

Lynch eventually approached Badalamenti to compose the score for the film, instructing him to “be like Shostakovich, be very Russian, but make it the most beautiful thing but make it dark and a little bit scary.”

Badalamenti composed the majority of the score for Twin Peaks without first watching an episode. When asked about his collaboration with Lynch on Laura Palmer’s Theme, Badalamenti said in 2018: “David came to my little office across from Carnegie Hall and said, ‘I have this idea for a show, ‘Northwest Passage.’ 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 s The music he made me want to play.

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These ideas have suddenly emerged. David and I were both taken aback by this news.

His eyes were watering and his arm hairs were standing on end as he said, “I see Twin Peaks.” Okay, you got me. To which I said, “I’ll go home and work on it.” Try to improve it? Don’t touch that score. And I, of course, never did.

Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score was certified gold in 25 countries and earned him a Grammy and three Emmy nominations.

In order to help get the actors “in the mood,” he would occasionally show up on Lynch’s sets to perform live music during production. The director, who told the New York Times in 2005, “I sit with Angelo and talk to him about a scene and he begins to play those words on the piano,” praised his instinct for capturing the right mood throughout production. The more time I spent working with Angelo, the more I realised how closely related sound effects and music are.

Angelo Badalamenti, David Lynch’s composer on Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet and more, dies aged 85

Badalamenti was born in Brooklyn in 1937 and received a full scholarship to study music at Berklee College of Music.
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In 1960, he received a diploma from the Manhattan School of Music. During his undergraduate breaks, he accompanied musicians to Catskill Mountain resorts. A wide variety of music was learned since “I had to play a lot of the standards,” he noted in 2019. I had to pick them up quickly, but mastering so many styles of music served me well in the long run.

Later, he found work at a music publisher and, using the alias Andy Badale, penned songs for performers like Shirley Bassey and Nina Simone. He composed his debut film score for Gordon’s War in 1973. Blue Velvet (1986) was the third film he scored.

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A pair of albums featuring Badalamenti, Lynch, and Cruise were released between 1989 and 1993: Floating into the Night and The Voice of Love. Additionally, he and Lynch recorded a jazz album in the early 1990s called Thought Gang, which didn’t come out for another two decades.

Later in his career, he collaborated on films like The Comfort of Strangers, Forever Mine, Auto Focus, and Dominion with Paul Schrader, The City of Lost Children, and A Very Long Engagement with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Holy Smoke with Jane Campion, The Beach with Danny Boyle, and Cabin Fever with Eli Roth.

A Late Quartet, The Wicker Man (2006 version), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation all included his music.

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Badalamenti was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the 2008 World Soundtrack Awards, and in 2011, Lynch presented him with the coveted Henry Mancini award. Danielle, his daughter, and Lonny, his wife, will carry on after him.

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Marissa Figgs
I write picture books, for middle grade, and young adults, some of which have won prizes, been filmed, or become bestsellers. I've ghostwritten for Pixar and developed teen work for Alloy Entertainment. I think heartfelt writing is the finest. It doesn't have to be personal, but it must be visceral. You want them riveted from the first word, page, or sentence, no matter how painful or unpleasant, and that's my expertise.
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