Keyboardist and composer Vangelis – born Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou on March 29, 1943, in Agria, Greece – was an electronic music pioneer best known for his epic theme music to the Academy Award-winning movie Chariots of Fire in 1981. He began his musical journey at a very young age, playing the piano and composing original music from the age of four. His first band, The Forminx, were popular in their native Greece but failed to win over the rest of the world. Aphrodite's Child followed and the band relocated to Paris, France in an attempt to further their career. Their first single, “Rain and Tears,” was a big hit across Europe and their first two albums – End of the World (1968) and It’s Five O’clock (1969) - were successful in Europe. After their third album, 666 (1972), which is often quoted as being one of the best ever progressive rock albums, tensions developed in the band, and they decided to go their separate ways. Vangelis began focusing on his writing, composing for several Greek films and documentaries as well as wildlife films for French filmmaker Frédéric Rossif. He moved to London where he signed with RCA Records and began recording a series of solo electronic albums including Heaven and Hell (1975), Spiral (1977), Beaubourg (1978) and China (1979). After Chariots of Fire, Vangelis composed many more film scores including Blade Runner (1982), Antarctica (1983) and 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992). In 1980, he released his first collaborative album with Yes front man Jon Anderson - Jon and Vangelis - and continued to create grand, anthemic compositions through the 1990s and 2000s including the 2002 World Cup theme and the score for the 2004 Oliver Stone movie Alexander. In 2012, the movie Chariots of Fire became a stage production utilizing Vangelis’ original score along with several new compositions. In 2014, he composed three short pieces to commemorate the landing of the Philae spacecraft on Comet 67P. These pieces - “Arrival”, “Rosetta's Waltz,” and “Philae's Journey” - were released online with accompanying images from the mission. He also composed a piece of music for Professor Stephen Hawking's memorial service in 2018 which was beamed up to the nearest black hole in honor of Hawking's work. In 2018, he also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Thessaly. While Vangelis’ recorded output slowed down in the 2000s, he continued to release several albums including Rosetta (2016), Nocturne: The Piano Album (2019), and Juno to Jupiter (2021). Vangelis died on May 17, 2022, at the age of 79.

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Stations Featuring Vangelis

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