James Horner, the consummate film composer known for his heart-tugging scores for Field of Dreams, Braveheart and Titanic, for which he won two Academy Awards, died Monday in a plane crash near Santa Barbara. He was 61.
His death was confirmed by Sylvia Patrycja, who is identified on Horner’s film music page as his assistant.
“We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent,” Patrycja wrote on Facebook on Monday. “He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road.”
Horner was piloting the small aircraft when it crashed into a remote area about 60 miles north of Santa Barbara, officials said. An earlier report noted that the plane, which was registered to the composer, had crashed, but the pilot had not been identified.
For his work on the 1997 best picture winner Titanic, directed by James Cameron, Horner captured the Oscar for original dramatic score, and he nabbed another Academy Award for original song (shared with lyricist Will Jennings) for “My Heart Will Go On,” performed by Celine Dion.
“My job — and it’s something I discuss with Jim all the time — is to make sure at every turn of the film it’s something the audience can feel with their heart,” Horner said in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “When we lose a character, when somebody wins, when somebody loses, when someone disappears — at all times I’m keeping track, constantly, of what the heart is supposed to be feeling. That is my primary role.”
His score for Titanic sold a whopping 27 million copies worldwide.
His fruitful partnership with Cameron also netted him Oscar noms for original score for the blockbusters Aliens (1986) and Avatar (2009). The pair reportedly were also at work on Avatar sequels.
The Los Angeles native earned 10 Oscar noms in all, also being recognized for his work on two other best picture winners: Braveheart (1995) and A Beautiful Mind (2001). He also received noms for An American Tail (1986), Field of Dreams (1989), Apollo 13 (1995) and House of Sand and Fog (2003).
Always busy, Horner has three films coming out soon: Southpaw, the boxing drama that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams and is due in theaters in July; Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Wolf Totem, out in September; and The 33, a drama based on the 2010 mining disaster in Chile that’s set for November.
His lengthy film résumé includes The Lady in Red (1979), Wolfen (1981), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1983), Red Heat (1988), Glory (1989), The Rocketeer (1991), Patriot Games (1992), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993), Jumanji (1995), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Troy (2004) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).
His father was two-time Oscar-winning art director/set designer Harry Horner (The Heiress, The Hustler).
Horner spoke about the state of his career in a December interview with David Hocquet.
“I’m much choosier,” he said.’ “I don’t want to be doing these movies that now 85 or 90 composers want, as opposed to six. And now all these movies, action movies. I don’t get offered all the movies obviously, but I see a lot of them and I do get asked to do a lot of them, and I just know they’re not asking me to do something that I can do something original, they’re asking me to do a formula and I’m too rebellious.”
The Hollywood Reporter | 6/22/15
From James Jacoby on Fb, 6/23/15: James Horner also joins the macabre club of musicians who died in plane accidents. So strange because I was reading about it last week and even had a discussion about it last night: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jim Croce, Patsy Cline, John Denver, Aaliyah, Ricky Nelson, Randy Rhoades, Ronnie VanZant, Otis Redding, Glen Miller …
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HAROLD BATTISTE — COMPOSER, ARRANGER, PERFORMER and TEACHER, DIES
Harold Raymond Battiste, Jr. (October 28, 1931 – June 19, 2015) was an American music composer, arranger, performer and teacher. A native of, and later community leader in, New Orleans, he is best known for his work as an arranger on records by Sam Cooke, Joe Jones, Lee Dorsey, Sonny and Cher, Dr. John, and others.
Born in New Orleans, he grew up in the Magnolia Projects. He attended Dillard University, earning a B.S. in music in 1953 and becoming a proficient saxophonist, pianist, and arranger. He formed his first group, with Alvin Batiste (clarinet) and Edward Blackwell (drums) while at university.
His first success as a studio arranger was with Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” in 1957. In 1961, he initiated the first African American musician-owned record label, All For One, better known as AFO Records. Within a few months, they produced a million-selling hit single, Barbara George’s “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)” (AFO#302). The label also released the first album by Ellis Marsalis, The Monkey Puzzle. Battiste’s other professional contributions as a producer and arranger for studio, film, stage and television include Joe Jones’ “You Talk Too Much”, Lee Dorsey’s “Ya Ya”, and Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”. Battiste introduced audiences to New Orleans artist Mac Rebennack as Dr. John, and produced his earliest albums.
Battiste spent thirty years in Los Angeles, including fifteen years with Sonny and Cher, earning six gold records, and acting as musical director on their TV series. He also played piano for Tom Waits’s songs “Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard” and “A Sweet Little Bullet from a Pretty Blue Gun” on Blue Valentine (1978).
Battiste was also a lecturer at several colleges, and in 1989, he joined Ellis Marsalis, Jr. on the Jazz Studies faculty of the University of New Orleans. He established the AFO Foundation, a non-profit service and educational organization dedicated to recognizing, perpetuating and documenting the heritage of New Orleans music and the people who make the music.
Battiste remained active in the community, and served as a board member of the Congo Square Cultural Collective, the Louisiana State Music Commission, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, Louisiana Jazz Federation, the African Cultural Endowment and numerous other cultural organizations. He received the Beau Arts Award, the Mayor’s Arts Award, the Governor’s Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and many others. In 1998, the City of New Orleans proclaimed his birthday as Harold Battiste Day. In 2010 the Historic New Orleans Collection published his autobiography Unfinished Blues.
Battiste died on June 19, 2015, aged 83, after a period of declining health.
Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…
23: Magali Noël, 83, French actress (Amarcord, La Dolce Vita) and singer.
22: Joseph de Pasquale, 95, American violist; James Horner, 61, American composer (Titanic, Field of Dreams, Apollo 13), Oscar winner (1998), plane crash.
21: Gunther Schuller, 89, American composer, conductor, historian and jazz musician, leukemia.
19: Harold Battiste, 83, American jazz and R&B composer, arranger and musician (Sam Cooke, Sonny & Cher, Dr. John); Wendell Holmes, 71, American musician (The Holmes Brothers), complications from pulmonary hypertension.
18: Phil Austin, 74, American comedian, writer, and musician (Firesign Theatre).