West News Wire: Vangelis, the Greek electronic composer who produced the unforgettable Academy Award-winning score for the film “Chariots of Fire” as well as music for scores of other films, documentaries, and television programs, died at the age of 79.

On Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other government officials sent their sympathies. Vangelis, born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, died in a French hospital late Tuesday, according to Greek media.

Mitsotakis tweeted, “Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer among us,” describing him as a “electronic sound trailblazer” whose death is “sad news for the entire globe.”

It’s one of the most instantly recognizable musical themes in cinema and its standing in popular culture has only been confirmed by the host of spoofs it has sired.

The 1981 British film made Vangelis, but his initial encounter with success came with his first Greek pop band in the 1960s.

He evolved into a one-man quasi-classical orchestra, using a vast array of electronic equipment to conjure up his enormously popular undulating waves of sound. He was fascinated by space exploration and wrote music for celestial bodies, but said he never sought stardom himself.

Still, a micro-planet spinning somewhere between Mars and Jupiter 6354 Vangelis will forever bear his name.

Born on March 29, 1943 near the city of Volos in central Greece, Vangelis started playing the piano at age 4, although he got no formal training and claimed he never learned to read notes.

“Orchestration, composition they teach these things in music schools, but there are some things you can never teach,” he said in a 1982 interview. “You can’t teach creation.”

At 20, Vangelis and three friends formed the Forminx band in Athens, which did very well in Greece. Based in Paris, the progressive rock group produced several European hits, and their final record “666,” released in 1972, is still highly acclaimed.

The signature piece is one of the hardest-to-forget movie tunes worldwide and has also served as the musical background to endless slow-motion parodies.

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Vangelis later wrote music scores for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” (1982) and “1492: Conquest of Paradise” (1992), as well as for “Missing” (1982) and “Antarctica” (1983), among others.

He refused many other offers for film scores, saying in an interview: “Half of the films I see don’t need music. It sounds like something stuffed in.”

Vangelis was wary of how record companies handled commercial success. With success, he said, “you find yourself stuck and obliged to repeat yourself and your previous success.”

His interest in science including the physics of music and sound and space exploration led to compositions linked with major NASA and European Space Agency projects.

Vangelis brought forth his symphonic swells playing alone on a bank of synthesizers, while flipping switches as his feet darted from one volume pedal to another.

“I work like an athlete,” he once said.

He avoided the lifestyle excesses associated with many in the music industry, saying that he never took drugs “which was very uncomfortable, at times.”

Vangelis said he didn’t ever experiment with his music and usually did everything on the first take.

“When I compose, I perform the music at the same time, so everything is live, nothing is pre-programmed,” he said.

Decca, the record label for his last three albums, called the composer “a genius.”

“Vangelis created music of extraordinary originality and power, and provided the soundtrack to so many of our lives,” it said. “Decca had the pleasure of partnering with Vangelis and his team for his past three albums and we will miss him enormously. His music will live on forever.”

Vangelis received many awards in Greece, France and the U.S. Little was known of his personal life besides that he was an avid painter.

“Every day I paint and every day I compose music,” he said in that order.

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