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Topic: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

  1. #1

    Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    Emmy Award winning film and television composer Basil Poledouris passed away today from cancer in Los Angeles. He was 61.

    Poledouris is survived by his former wife Bobbi, his children Zoe and Alexis and a brother and a sister. No services are planned.

    Basil Poledouris was born on August 21, 1945 in Kansas City. He started taking piano lessons when he was 7 years old. Eventually he went on to become a student at USC, where he studied the arts of directing, cinematography, editing, sound and of course music. It was also at USC he met John Milius and Randal Kleiser, both acclaimed directors with whom he would work in the future.

    Even though Basil had already composed music to John Milius' much talked about Big Wednesday (1978), his real breakthrough came in 1982 when he composed the score to Milius' epic fantasy movie, Conan the Barbarian (1982). The powerful themes that Basil created for this movie opened the eyes of the movie industry, as well as the public, and it is arguably one of the best soundtracks of the 80s. Basil went on to make soundtracks for such movies as: RoboCop (1987) (the first Paul Verhoeven movie of many for which he has composed), "Lonesome Dove" (1989 miniseries) for which he won an Emmy, Farewell to the King (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Free Willy (1993), in Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers (1997) with Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards and Les Miserables (1998).

    Composer Christopher Lennertz was a good friend of Basil's and wrote this today:


    I can't tell you all what a sad day this is. I lost a person today who was very important to me. Basil Poledouris was an amazing mentor, an inspired teacher, and above all, a good friend. Sadly, he lost his hard-fought battle with cancer this afternoon and now can be free of pain and suffering, but he will be so very missed by all of us... perhaps more than he even knew. He and his family were extremely generous and kind to me. I learned so much from him, not only about music, but about the business, life, and even sailing. His daughter, Zoe, even sang on demos for me. Their selfless love and support has lasted years beyond my work with him and never ceased to amaze me.

    I truly wish with all my heart that everyone could have known him like I did... but then I realize that we all can: Listen carefully to Conan and you'll know how powerful and passionate he was. Listen to the beautiful love theme from Farewell to the King and you'll know how deeply he loved his daughters, family, and friends. Listen to Wind and you'll know how he felt on his boat, sailing to Catalina. Listen to the subtle strains of It's my Party and you'll hear how he celebrated and valued life. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that I will never be able to see him again... never be able to ask his advice, or look to him for guidance. But then I realize that he left us the greatest gift of all... that we can still hear him: when I put in a CD, turn on my ipod, or put in a favorite DVD. I can listen to his music and be in the presence of him once again... be inspired by him again. And thank God for that. It doesn't make the pain go away, or the loss any less, but after I clear the lump from my throat and wipe my eyes, it does make me smile, if just a little.

    I cannot thank him enough for the impact he had on my life, and I'm so positive that the world is a better place with the music he left for all of us. Be at peace now, my friend.

    With love, sadness, and admiration,

    Chris Lennertz

  2. #2

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    I was taken aback eariler this evening when a friend phoned me to tell me the sad news. In the last 5 years Basil and I had become friends through a mutual project we were both working on. His studio (blowtortch flats) was downstairs from my Venice production office. Atleast twice a week I would go down to his studio to shoot the s*#t with Basil. He was a guy who had seen and done it all in the film and television market. Though he never taught me anything about music, he always gave me good advice on how to not get screwed by the business. He also indirectly helped me get my first film scoring gig (he passed my demo on to a producer who hired me to score a film that ended up never getting made but because I got that gig another director hired me for his film which ironically premieres tomorrow night at the Crest Theatre in Westwood). A few weeks back I emailed him and invited him to the premiere. It want unanswered. I knew he had health problems in the last few years. The last time we met face to face he had just recovered from surgery (from the cancer). He was looking better and healthier than ever. He lit up a smoke. "you still smoke?" I asked, "Tim, that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!" he said with his dry wit. He was accomplished but humble. I will miss you dude.


  3. #3

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    I got an email from the SCL with the news - this is so sad - Basil was a great artist and all of us film composers owe him a debt of gratitiude for his wonderful artistry and music. Although I never met or worked with him, when we 1st moved to LA in '92, my wife's 1st singing gig was in a choir for one of his scores.

    Thoughts and payers to his whole family and close freinds-

    with respects,


  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Los Angeles

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    Very sad indeed. My brother who's a producer once worked with him (all involved were USC film grads) and went on and on about what a nice engaging fellow Basil was. He was a very unique talent. His score to Lonesome Dove was brilliant and perfect.
    Dave Connor www.daveconnor.net

  5. #5

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Beal
    I got an email from the SCL with the news - this is so sad - Basil was a great artist and all of us film composers owe him a debt of gratitiude for his wonderful artistry and music. Although I never met or worked with him, when we 1st moved to LA in '92, my wife's 1st singing gig was in a choir for one of his scores.

    Thoughts and payers to his whole family and close freinds-

    with respects,

    A great one and by all accounts a nice man. Sad.
    Composer, Logic Certified Trainer, Level 2,
    author of "Going Pro with Logic Pro 9."


  6. #6

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    Very sad to hear this news..

    I've completely worn out my Conan The Barbarian" vinyl record years ago, but was fortunate to have a CD replacement. (Very hard to find.)

    It's amazing how a persons work can be so influential.. even on this forum I
    often hear his style.

    He has a great legacy.


  7. #7

    Unhappy Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    A very sad day. This is a loss of one of the all time greatest composers in film and TV. He had a huge influence on many composers. The world is a poorer place without him.
    Doyle W. Donehoo, Composer
    Radar Music

  8. #8

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    Totally unexpected, and very sad news. He's one of my favorite composers. Every time people list their favorite film composers he's usually not on the lists, and I always wondered about that as I felt he deserved to be mentioned more often. His Conan the Barbarian score remains one of the best scores I've ever heard and I've loved it ever since I was a kid.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    Was just watching Conan once again the other night and it never fails to amaze me how Basil’s music animates that imagery with such magnificent emotion. What a joy to experience this caliber of narrative without any dialog at all for such a lengthy duration of time. Perfect synergy of sight and sound. Now this is true movie music!

    This man will be missed indeed, an enormous inspiration. Les Miserables was incredible, just poignant expression.

    As a side issue, I often wondered if my attempts at tapping out the metre in the main Conan theme is correct. Can anybody confirm that it is 11/8?

    Jerry Goldsmith last year, now this. Getting this empty feeling all of a sudden.


  10. #10

    Re: Basil Poledouris Dies at 61

    What a sad news... He is one of my famous composers influencing the way of my music. His Conan The Barbarian is more than just a film score with powerful theme but has lots of deep playing and experiencing (and challanging the traditional way of composing classical film score, such as odd rhythm combinations of CTB theme music, fresh phrase idea and is memorable) with weird idea on music composing, while keeping a memorable epic "sound language" to us.

    To me, he has a more deeper and soulful work than that of John Williams. (yet I'm a big friend of JW, no doubt he is great.) We lost him, but he left us fantastic music.

    Long live Basil, Long live the Anvil of Crom!

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