Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, known professionally as Vangelis, left our world May 17th. I was crushed by the news.
No other musician has ever touched my heart and soul, or inspired my imagination, as much as this Greek composer did. He was a one-man symphony, often composing, arranging, and performing every sound himself. So astonishing was his music that many pieces you'd swear had been performed by a full orchestra and chorus (!!!) were actually entirely synthesized -- and often improvised.
I've spent literally thousands of hours listening to his music throughout my life. I was introduced to his work, like so many others, through his film scores to CHARIOTS OF FIRE and BLADE RUNNER. I later would listen endlessly to albums such as OPERA SAUVAGE, HEAVEN & HELL (featured so memorably in the TV series COSMOS), MASK, EL GRECIO, RHAPSODIES, MYTHODEA...and other film scores like MISSING, ANTARCTICA, THE BOUNTY, 1492, and ALEXANDER. He was a very private man, and particularly controlling in what work was made available to the public. Some of his most stirring compositions were never commercially released -- leading me to spend a small fortune over the years, as I amassed a collection of bootleg and limited edition recordings.
When John Lennon died, I was far too young to appreciate the loss. I came to know his music as I grew older. Vangelis, however, I loved ever since I was 9. His work was such a part of my life, and inspired me as much as the movies.
I just can't grasp the concept that we'll never hear new music from him again. I always hoped to see him perform in person one day. Another dream bites the dust. I haven't felt such an aching loss over the death of an artist since Stanley Kubrick's passing in 1999.
I recently bought a catalog book of some of Vangelis' artwork -- the man was a prolific painter, too -- and he had signed it. Holding the book may be a poor substitute for meeting the man, or hearing his music performed live, but it will have to be enough under the circumstances.