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Angelo Badalamenti, Longtime David Lynch Music Collaborator, Dies at 85

Composer worked on iconic projects such as 'Twin Peaks,' 'Blue Velvet,' and 'Mulholland Drive'
Angelo Badalamenti
(Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Angelo Badalamenti, who composed music for some of director David Lynch‘s most iconic works, died of natural causes yesterday (Dec. 11) at his home in Lincoln Park, N.J. He was 85.

Best known for his moody, evocative compositions in Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Mulholland Drive, Badalamenti was a classically trained musician who also worked with artists such Shirley Bassey, Pet Shop Boys, Nina Simone, Paul McCartney, Liza Minnelli, James’ Tim Booth, and David Bowie. In addition, he wrote the theme music for the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona and for Bravo’s long-running interview series Inside the Actors Studio.

Lynch initially drafted Badalamenti to serve as a vocal coach for actress Isabella Rossellini on the set of the 1986 movie Blue Velvet, and the composer then recruited Julee Cruise to sing the film’s torch song, “Mysteries of Love.” Cruise would go on to work with Lynch and Badalamenti on the acclaimed, Fender Rhodes-generated music for Twin Peaks, which ran on ABC from 1990-91.

From then on, Lynch and Badalamenti were virtually inseparable as collaborators, working together on music for 1990’s Wild at Heart, the 1992 Twin Peaks feature film Fire Walk With Me, 1997’s Lost Highway, 1999’s The Straight Story, and 2001’s Mulholland Drive, the latter of which featured Badalamenti in an on-screen role as a menacing gangster named Luigi Castigliane. A line of his dialog (“This is the girl”) figures prominently in the film’s plot.

Badalamenti won a best pop instrumental performance Grammy for his Twin Peaks theme as well as the 2011 Henry Mancini Award from ASCAP. He worked with Lynch on several non-film projects, including a jazz album recorded in the early ’90s but not released until 2018, Thought Gang, and two releases with Cruise, Floating Into the Night (1989) and The Voice of Love (1993).

In recent years, Badalamenti’s work was celebrated at several charity events curated by the David Lynch Foundation, including 2015’s The Music of David Lynch at Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel and the first edition of Festival of Disruption, held at the same venue in September 2016.

Lynch has yet to directly address Badalamenti’s passing, but appears to have honored his friend today in his daily YouTube weather report. Lynch normally describes what music he’s listening to after reciting the current atmospheric conditions in Los Angeles, but in today’s installment, he simply said, “today … no music.”

“Tonight I will raise my glass to my beautiful friend, the Bad Angel, Angelo Badalamenti,” Booth wrote on Twitter. “He taught me many things, but primarily, how to enjoy the recording process. We laughed from the beginning to the end of the record we made together. Never had a disagreement. I love him.