Born Evangelos Papathanassiou, Vangelis was born on the 29th of March, 1943 in a small town in Greece. An entirely self-taught composer and musician, Vangelis has never received any formal training in any aspect of music and cannot, in fact, read standard notation. Doubtless this skill is not in any way beyond him; on the contrary it would appear to be simply unnecessary. His involvement with music began at an early age; by six he was giving piano performances of his own compositions, and after high school it was almost inevitable that young Evangelos would follow his love affair with music. Quickly becoming a most popular Greek act, Formynx was followed in 1968 by Aphrodite's Child.
Aphrodite's Child, despite its Greek roots, was formed in Paris, and featured Vangelis along with two other Greek ex-patriates, Demis Roussos and drummer Lucas Sideras. Aphrodite's Child was progressive rock, there's no mistake about that, sounding very different to later solo releases from Vangelis, and also radically different to Demis Roussos' later forays into romantic ballads. Aphrodite's Child's crowning achievement, of course, is the concept album 666, which clearly shows, in places, Vangelis' leanings towards experimental, synthesizer-based soundscapes.
Following the breakup of Aphrodite's Child in 1972, Vangelis worked on two film scores for director Frederic Rossif, following this with some time working with Yes. Jon Anderson invited him to join the band, though Vangelis chose to instead pursue a solo career. Followers of Vangelis' music, however, will be well aware of Vangelis and Anderson's collaborative works, under the name Jon And Vangelis.
In 1973, his first proper album as Vangelis, l'Apocalypse Des Animaux, was released. Following this, Vangelis set up Nemo Studios in London, featuring a vast array of state of the art production and recording equipment, allowing him to create Earth, the classic Heaven And Hell and wildy experimental Albedo 0.39. Since then, a steady stream of music has followed; Vangelis is renowned for the prolific nature of his compositions as well as their quality. With regard to composing, Vangelis is typically shy about discussing his technique. Generally, his music is created by improvisation, with Vangelis looping tracks, overdubbing live and keeping or discarding the result. When scoring Blade Runner, for example, Vangelis reports that he would watch each section of film six or seven times, and then simply go and record the piece. No songwriting or laborious reworking; Vangelis simply played what he felt for that scene.
Without a doubt, Vangelis' most famous piece is the theme tune for Chariots Of Fire, for which, in 1982, he received international acclaim and an Academy Award. This piece, however, is only the tip of the iceberg, and his discography, including collaborations and behind-the-scenes work, is already vast and shows little sign of abating.
Vangelis is also a very private individual. In the span of his entire career, he has only taken part in a handful of public performances and interviews. From the few interviews he has granted, it is clear that his thinking and mindset are radically different from most of today's musicians. He seems to be worried that being constantly exposed to the more commercial aspects of the music industry and public scrutiny would have adverse effects on his music, effectively impairing his ability to create his art. Quietly he informs us that the only reason he sells his music is to be able to create more music for himself, hinting coyly that he doesn't even release all of the music that he could, only that which is necessary.
1970: Sex Power
1972: Fais que ton rêve soit plus long que la nuit
1973: l'Apocalypse des animaux, Earth
1975: Heaven And Hell
1976: Albedo 0.39, La Fête Sauvage
1977: Spiral, Ignacio
1979: China, Opera sauvage
1980: See you later
1981: Chariots of fire
1984: Soil festivities
1985: Invisible Connections
1990: The city
1992: 1492 Conquest of paradise
1994: Blade Runner
1995: Voices, Foros timis ston Greko (A tribute to El Greco - Limited release)
1996: Portraits, Oceanic
1998: El Greco (World release)
1999: Reprise 1990 - 1999
2001: Mythodea : Music for the NASA mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey
2007: Blade Runner Trilogy 25th Anniversary (3 CD set)
2007: El Greco (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Equipment Used: (A Selected List)
Akai: S900, S1000
Arp: Odyssey, Pro Soloist
Bosendorfer: Grand piano
Crumar: Compakt piano
Elka: Rhapsody 610
Emu: Emulator 1, Emulator 2
Korg: 01W/FD, 700 Monophonic, Maxi Korg, DSM1 DVP1, I3, M1, Poly 800, S1, Trinity, Wavestation
Kurzweil: 250, K1200, K2000
Oberheim: 2 Voice, Matrix 12
Roland: CR 5000, D50, JD-800, JP-4, JP-6
Sequential Circuits: Prophet 5, Prophet VS, Prophet
Yamaha: CP-80, DX7, GS1, GS2, SY77, SY99