Angelo Badalamenti

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Angelo Badalamenti
Birth nameAngelo Badalamenti
Born (1937-03-22) March 22, 1937 (age 85)
New York City, U.S.
GenresFilm score, jazz, ambient
Years active1971–present

Angelo Badalamenti (born March 22, 1937) is an American composer, best known for his work scoring films for director David Lynch, notably Blue Velvet, the Twin Peaks saga (1990–1992, 2017), The Straight Story, and Mulholland Drive.[1] Badalamenti received the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for his "Twin Peaks Theme", and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Soundtrack Awards and the Henry Mancini Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Early life[edit]

Badalamenti was born in Brooklyn, New York, to an Italian-American family; his father, who was of Sicilian[2] descent from the town Cinisi, was a fish market owner.[3] He began taking piano lessons at age eight. By the time Badalamenti was a teenager, his aptitude at the piano earned him a summer job accompanying singers at resorts in the Catskill Mountains.[4] He attended Lafayette High School. Then he enrolled at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, but after two years he transferred to the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1958 and a master's degree in 1959.[5][6]

Film and television scoring[edit]

Badalamenti scored films such as Gordon's War, and Law and Disorder, but his break came when he was brought in to be Isabella Rossellini's singing coach for the song "Blue Velvet" in David Lynch's 1986 film Blue Velvet.[7] Inspired by This Mortal Coil's recent cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren", Lynch had wanted Rossellini to sing her own version, but was unable to secure the rights. In its place, Badalamenti and Lynch collaborated to write "Mysteries of Love" using lyrics Lynch wrote and Badalamenti's music. Julee Cruise, who went on to work with Lynch and Badalamenti on other projects, performed the vocals for the track. Badalamenti composed the score for the film and served as music supervisor. Lynch's request to the composer was for the score to be "like Shostakovich, be very Russian, but make it the most beautiful thing but make it dark and a little bit scary."[8] Badalamenti appears in Blue Velvet as the piano player in the club where Rossellini's character performs. This film was the first of what would become a career-long collaborative relationship spanning television and film.[7]

After scoring a variety of mainstream films, including A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Badalamenti once again collaborated with Lynch and scored Lynch's cult television show, Twin Peaks which featured the vocals of Julee Cruise.[9][10] Twin Peaks would become the score Badalamenti is perhaps best known for, one that helped define the overall style and mood of the show.[9] The score features different themes patterned after specific characters in the show—"Audrey's Dance", for example, is an "abstract jazzy" theme that plays when Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn) is on-screen.[11] Many of the songs from the series were released on Cruise's album Floating into the Night.[12] From the soundtrack of the television series, he was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the "Twin Peaks Theme".[13] it also earned a gold plaque from the RIAA.[14]

Other Lynch projects he worked on include the movies Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Lost Highway, The Straight Story, Mulholland Drive (where he has a small role as a gangster with a finicky taste for espresso), and Rabbits as well as the television shows On the Air and Hotel Room.[15] Other projects he has worked in include the television film Witch Hunt, and the films Naked in New York, The City of Lost Children, A Very Long Engagement, The Wicker Man, Dark Water and Secretary. He has also worked on the soundtrack for the video game Fahrenheit (known as Indigo Prophecy in North America). He was composer for director Paul Schrader on such films as Auto Focus, The Comfort of Strangers and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. In 1998, Badalamenti recorded "A Foggy Day (in London Town)" with artist David Bowie for the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album Red Hot + Rhapsody a tribute to George Gershwin which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease. In 2005, he composed the themes for the movie Napola (Before the Fall), which were then adapted for the score by Normand Corbeil. In 2008, he directed the soundtrack of The Edge of Love, with Siouxsie, Patrick Wolf and Beth Rowley on vocals.

Badalamenti received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Soundtrack Awards in 2008.[16] On July 23, 2011, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers presented Badalamenti with the Henry Mancini Award for his accomplishments in film and television music.[17]

The 2017 revival of the Twin Peaks television series marked the continuation of Badalamenti's work with David Lynch. Its score features new compositions by Badalamenti, as well as material from the original score.[9]


In 1966, Badalamenti co-wrote a song ("Visa to the Stars") on Perrey and Kingsley's album The In Sound from Way Out!. In 1967, using the name "Andy Badale", he co-wrote a song ("Pioneers of the Stars") for Perrey and Kingsley's next album, Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music From Way Out. That same year, he co-wrote (with Norm Simon) “I Want to Love You for What You Are”, a #54 pop hit for Ronnie Dove. He also arranged, produced, and co-wrote some songs on Perrey's two solo albums for Vanguard Records using the "Andy Badale" pseudonym. In 1987, he lent his services to British synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys, arranging the orchestration on "It Couldn't Happen Here". Badalamenti also arranged the strings on two tracks on the Pet Shop Boys' Behaviour album in 1990.

In 1993, Badalamenti collaborated with thrash metal band Anthrax on the Twin Peaks-inspired track "Black Lodge" from the Sound of White Noise album.[18] In 1995, he composed, orchestrated and produced Marianne Faithfull's album, titled A Secret Life. In 1996, Badalamenti teamed up with Tim Booth of the British rock band James. As Booth and the Bad Angel, they released an eponymous album on the Mercury label. In 2000, he worked with Orbital on the "Beached" single for the movie The Beach. In 2004, he composed the Evilenko soundtrack working with Dolores O'Riordan, who sang the main theme and with whom he continued collaborating.

Other projects[edit]

Badalamenti composed the opening theme for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.[19]

Live performances[edit]

Badalamenti performed at a concert entitled "The Music of David Lynch" in 2015, in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the David Lynch Foundation. The performance was held at Ace Hotel Los Angeles and included Julee Cruise and other artists known for collaborating with Lynch.[20]



  • 1990 – Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance: "Twin Peaks Theme"
  • 1993 – Saturn Award for Best Music: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
  • 2008 – World Soundtrack Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2011 – American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers: Henry Mancini Award

See also[edit]



  1. ^ ASCAP 2011.
  2. ^ Wise 2011.
  3. ^ Milicia 2007.
  4. ^ Contemporary Musicians 1996.
  5. ^ "An Interview with Angelo Badalamenti". Believer Magazine. August 1, 2019. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
  6. ^ "Alumni: Awards". Manhattan School of Music. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Garvey 2017.
  8. ^ Chion 1995.
  9. ^ a b c Naftule 2017.
  10. ^ Tedder 2017.
  11. ^ Deyneko 2015.
  12. ^ Jenkins and Huddleston 2017.
  13. ^ Grammy 1990.
  14. ^ Grow 2014.
  15. ^ Rogers 2019.
  16. ^ World Soundtrack Academy 2008.
  17. ^ Hurst 2011.
  18. ^ Morris 1993.
  19. ^ Lynskey 2017.
  20. ^ Ace Hotel 2015.

Cited sources

Other sources

External links[edit]