James Horner 1953-2015

Oscar-winning composer dies aged 61


by James White |
Published on

James Horner, the award-winning composer responsible for the music of Titanic, Avatar, Apollo 13, Field Of Dreams, several Star Trek movies and many more, was killed in a plane crash on Monday at the age of 61.

Horner was born in Los Angeles in 1953, the son of Harry, a production designer. But the younger Horner’s passion was music, and he spent his formative years in London, attending the Royal College Of Music before returning home to study for his bachelor’s degree in music at USC and post-graduate honours at UCLA.

He began his career working on short films for the American Film Institute and on low-budget films, breaking in with the likes of Lewis Teague’s** The Lady In Red** and Barbara Peeters’ Humanoids From The Deep. Roger Corman hired him to write music for Battle Beyond The Stars and he worked with a young Oliver Stone on The Hand. Nicholas Meyer worked with him on Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, and he even appeared briefly as a member of the Enterprise’s crew.

Horner continued to be a genre favourite, but could never be pigeonholed, working on many types of films and TV shows, forging fruitful connections with the likes of James Cameron, for whom he would work on Aliens, Titanic (for which he not only won two Oscars, but saw the film’s score album become the biggest-selling of all time) and Avatar. He had been lined up to work on the film’s sequels.

Among his other scores? Courage Under Fire, The Perfect Storm, Braveheart, Willow, Cocoon, and, more recently, The Amazing Spider-Man and boxing drama Southpaw, which will be in our cinemas on July 24. “Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones,” Ron Howard, another frequent collaborator, wrote on Twitter.

An avid pilot, he was at the controls of his plane when it crashed in the Los Padres National Forest in southern California on Monday night. "We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent," his assistant Sylvia 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."

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