Vangelis, the Greek electronic composer known for the unforgettable Academy Award-winning score for the films Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, passed away earlier this week. The legend was 79. The news was confirmed by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Greek media reported that Vangelis died in a French hospital late Tuesday (May 17).
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed condolences through social media statements on Thursday, May 19. He tweeted, "Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer among us," and went on to call him a "electronic sound trailblazer" whose death is "sad news for the entire world."
Jean-Michel Jarre shared a tribute on Twitter saying, "Dear Vangelis, We will all remember your unique touch and your moving melodies forever. You & I have always shared the same passion for synthesizers and electronic music since so long... May you Rest In Peace, JMJ x"
Vangelis was born on March 29, 1943 near the city of Volos in central Greece. He started playing the piano at age 4, without formal training. According to reports he had also claimed that he never learned to read notes.
At 20, Vangelis and his three friends formed the Forminx band in Athens. However, after it disbanded, he wrote scores for several Greek films and later became a founding member of Aphrodite's Child with Greek musician, Demis Roussos.
The composer was best known for the opening credits of Chariots of Fire. It featured a bunch of young runners moving in slow motion across a glum beach in Scotland as the tune rises to a magisterial declamation.
For the unversed, the track is one of the most recognizable musical themes, used in popular culture over the years. The 1981 British film gave Vangelis his first international fame after the boyband in Athens in the 1960s.
Vangelis later wrote music scores for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Missing (1982) and Antarctica (1983) among others.