Let’s start with it’s name: the right pronunciation is “Vanguélis”.
He started composing piano music on his early 4, and declining musical tutition gave it’s first piano concert when he was just 6 years old. Some sources point that he didn’t know how to read or write music.
On his own words: “Going to school doesn’t make you a musician. Most of the Music schools teach you repertory, but not music”, that’s one of the most important thing there is.
In the sixties, he formed a group amongst other 2 members, Lucas Sideras and Demis Roussos. Yeah, this Demis Roussos, as they were cousins too. One of their tracks, recorded in Paris, and inspired on the famous Canon in D from Pachelbel, called Rain and Tears, was attached to the student riots wich occured in Paris on 1968.
You can hear the trio’s song:
Some other curious thing would be watching him with soprano Montserrat Caballé, in the next vídeo you can watch them together performing in Athens (Vangelis at the piano).
In 1974 Vangelis moves to London, under rumours that pointed him to replace Rick Wakeman on the formation Yes, rejecting later on this position after few rehearsal weeks with the band.
If Vangelis just got 1 Oscar Prize for the soundtrack movie “Chariots of Fire”, he got one of the biggest honours you can receive in France, the Chevalier Order of Arts and Letters (something like Knight Order of Arts and Letters). Some others like Bob Dylan, Joaquin Rodrigo, Frank Zappa or more recently Daft Punk or David Guetta received same honour. Laurent Garnier was also awarded on 2017 Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
Few recording studios lined his trajectory. One of the most fascinating on it’s concept was Epsilon Laboratory (year 1992). A completely glass covered space built on the top of a Paris skyscrapper. To remember works like : Conquest of Paradise, among other ones. You can watch some pictures from the studio on the next link: http://elsew.com/data/gallery5.htm
One of the most electrical music songs ever produced, and a fundamental basis from the futurism in cinema, music, and literature is Blade Runner (End Titles).
There´s an endless electronic music tributes, covers, versions from the track and from the soundtrack itself. A song wich, the ones who love electronic music insanely, the ones who believe on this “cosa nostra” electronic music is, we venerate.
Some more interesting stuff on Blade Runner Soundtrack.
In 1979, Ridley Scott puts his attention on the Greek composer, by recording a TV Chanel nº5 perfume spot, on wich you can listen at the end the voice of Leonard Nimoy, aka Dr Spock.
The relation between Ridley Scott and Vangelis was complicated, specially because constant script changes on the movie. Once there was a final advancer version (without audio), an VHS copy was brought to the musician in order he could work on the music (the VHS copy was never brought back and it’s a priceless piece).
Vangelis was impacted by replicants survival desire, despite their death and extermination sentence. Also by Deckard’s loneliness and this futuristic melancholic landscape. To make it possible he would inspire on Wendy Carlos work in order to make a perfect musical atmosphere, on where, again, Demis Roussos would appear on the song “Tales of the Future”.
The movie didn’t have as much repercussion as it was expected initially, and relation between Vangelis, Ridley Scott and Warner Studios wasn’t as good as expected. As the years transform the movie in a cult classic one, Warner sees a commercial opportunity by releasing the movie’s soundtrack, and at this time, Vangelis get his revenge chance, as his contractual relationship with Polidor wouldn’t make possible the movie’s soundtrack to be released.
There were few pirate soundtrack copies, probably filtered by a Romanian engineer wich copied directly the parts right from the tape.
Warner Music’s desperation brings to publish a “replica” from the soundtrack, wich would be out under the name: Blade Runner: The New American Orchestra. In 1994, and lately 2007, legit versions from the soundtrack would be released with Vangelis own approval.
To end with some words from the artist:
“My own wish about music is to music to be treated with more respect. This is what I would like from people. I don’t ask anything for myself”.
Sit tibi terra levis (Let the Earth be mild), master.
Text by: Raúl Remujo.
Electronic Music Pioneers, by Ben Kettlewell.