Greek composer and musician Vangelis has died aged 79.
Best known for his instantly recognisable Oscar-winning theme for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, Vangelis was a synth-driven musician who never failed to elevate the drama of cinema through a booming soundtrack.
As reported by Deadline, Vangelis' assistant Lefteris Zermas confirmed the composer died in a French hospital on May 17, but refrained from providing a specific cause. According to the Greek newspaper OT, Vangelis was being treated in the hospital for Covid-19.
Born Evangelos Odessey Papathanassiou in 1943, the producer and musician taught himself music through his developing years in Athens, before changing his name to Vangelis around the time he joined his first band in the early 60s.
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Vangelis' music was instantly original, as the artist began combining thunderous orchestral music with electronic synth and jazz to create a sound that was completely new for the time.
Vangelis moved from Athens to Paris to London, scoring various films and TV shows with soundtracks that began to top the charts. He reached his creative and commercial height in the 1980s when he began to compose scores for blockbuster hits like 1982's Blade Runner, 1983's Antarctica and of course 1981's Chariots of Fire. His Chariots soundtrack instantly became iconic and would be closely associated with Vangelis for decades to come.
Originally called, Titles, the theme was originally released as a single where it quickly reached the top of the American Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song's triumphant piano and thumping synth backdrop provide an overwhelming sensory experience that completely immerses the listener and makes them feel as though they are racing on the beach alongside the characters. The theme has been used countless times since, even appearing in the 1984 and 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies.
Vangelis had a clear affinity for film, but he also recorded multiple albums - some solo, some collaborative - and dipped briefly into alternative genres like progressive rock. The composer won an Oscar for his Chariots of Fire theme and was a Bafta award nominee for his work on the Blade Runner soundtrack.
Among his many awards and honours, Vangelis also received a Public Service Medal from Nasa in 2003.