It seems like every other week I'm having to post news of the passing of another underappreciated artist. This week, we lost one of the great film composers, Basil Poledouris. Poledouris might not have achieved household name status ala John Williams, and his career wasn't as long as that of John Barry or Jerry Goldsmith, but in 20 years, he left an indelible impression on how the movies should sound.
Originally intending to become a concert pianist, Poledouris was bored by the formality of classical training and while at university, inspired by legendary film composer Miklos Rosza, investigated the no-rules field of motion picturing scoring. He was definitely in the right place (the University Of Southern California )at the right time (the 1970s with fellow students George Lucas, Randal Kleiser, and John Milius). Wisely, his classmates remembered his talent as their own careers took off.
Chance are you've hummed along to his rousing fanfare from Milius' "Conan The Barbarian"--not the sword & sorcery classic it should have been, but the credit sequence, in which Poledouris' theme empowers the forging of Conan's sword, is as unforgettable an opening as any realized. Poledouris also scored classmate Kleiser's "The Blue Lagoon", as well as many more features for Milius. He also worked with Sam Raimi (For The Love Of The Game), John Waters (Cecil B. Demented), John McTiernan (The Hunt For Red October), and Simon Wincer (Free Willy). You might also remember his muscular themes for Paul Verhoeven's woefully misunderstood "Starship Troopers".
He also won an Emmy for his score for the miniseries "Lonesome Dove", and acclaim for the Opening Ceremonies theme for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
His family has posted a memorial page for him on his official site here.