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In-depth Feature:  Vangelis - Profile and Video Collection
Symphonic synthesist - a perfect eye for film scoring and an ear for pop too
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Vangelis
The name Vangelis is synonymous with atmospheric synthesized music, some even call his work New Age – but I think that’s a bit harsh. His work has famously earned him an oscar for Chariots of Fire in 1981 - a score which he allegedly improvised directly to picture – no synchronization, and numerous other honours. And who can forget the score of Ridley Scott’s seminal sci-fi film Blade Runner? In which the talents of the Yamaha CS80, Fender Rhodes and Steinway grand are in full effect. Over the years his filmscore work is what he’s most recognized for, but he also works in the world of pop with Yes front-man John Anderson with whom he’s collaborated for many years.

Born Vangelis Papathanassiou on March 29 1943 in Volos, he was a child prodigy, playing piano at four and performing his own works at six. He left for Paris 1967 after a military coup in Greece and joined the psychedelic progressive rock band Aphrodite’s Child, together with famed falsetto singer Demis Roussos and drummer Loukas Sideras. They had a hit single in Europe called "Rain and Tears" and are considered pivotal in the development of progressive rock and concept albums, especially because of their ground-breaking double album 666. In 1972 the group split, although Vangelis has since produced several albums and singles for Roussos as well as Roussos contributing vocals to the Blade Runner soundtrack.

In 1974 he went for an audition with mega rock group Yes in London and decided that he liked the place so much, he set up a 1,500 square foot studio (Nemo Studios) right in the heart of the city in an old film studio. Embracing 16-track technology (then quite the cutting edge of recording) and splashing out on a huge collection of the latest synthesizers and keyboards, he set to work. As well as a number of film soundtracks, after his audition with Yes he started to work with vocalist John Anderson, the creative partnership John and Vangelis having a number of hits over the years – incidentally, they wrote the Donna Summer classic “State of Independence�.

Vangelis is quite a reclusive character, avoiding public appearances and interviews and eschewing the limelight and gossip of the celebrity set - he prefers the music to do the communicating. His last known studio was called Epsilon Laboratory in Paris (91-93), as since 1993 he’s been rather nomadic, with short spells in Greece, Rome, Paris and the USA.

This collection of videos shows him to be quite the international man about town, with a confidence on camera that rather goes against his shunning of publicity. You’ll also see some impressive improvisations, plus a short piece of Aphrodite’s Child performing a Procul Harum-like piece in which Vangelis looks the split of film director Stanley Kubric.


Vangelis at Nemo Studios - London
His glittering career has brought him an oscar, multiple gold and platinum discs and numerous other awards too – he’s even had a small planet named after him by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. And, NASA presented him with their 2003 Public Service Medal, one of the highest honors the space agency confers to a non-government individual.

Universal have released a major collection of his music entitled Odyssey – The Definitive Collection, containing 18 works from 1973 to 2003. According to his biography at the Sony Music site, his most recent work has been on the soundtrack for Oliver Stone's Alexander, about the life of Alexander the Great. Vangelis is 63 years old this year (May 29th 2006).

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       3 Comments...  
    Jayne    Said...

    I bought the Friends of Mr. Cairo when I was in my mid to late teens. I was so impressed that i wrote to Polydor, and phoned Nemo Recording Studios. I was invited up to visit for the day. What a lovely person Vangelis was , polite, hospitable and kind. And all his engineers and people we met that day were fab too. It's a day I'll never forget for this little girl from south wales, and still hold the memory dear.

    01-Sep-07 02:34 PM


    Kim    Said...

    Jayne

    I am so happy for you.

    I too would so much love to meet this wonderful man and if the gods are watching down, they will make my dream come true.

    I hope one day to have a memory like yours.

    13-Jan-08 08:15 PM


    Paul Wifen    Said...

    Friends of Mr Cairo was recorded in Paris in my friend Francis' store Musicland. The majority of The Bounty soundtrack was recorded one an entire floor of the Hotel Pierre in New York. I was a sound designer for Vangelis off and on from 1981 to 1989

    03-Dec-09 04:01 PM


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