Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tribute: James Horner (1953 - 2015)

The press has reported today the tragic death of James Horner (1953 - 2015) in a plane crash.

It is no exaggeration to state that I grew up listening to the soundtracks of this great composer and conductor. 

Throughout the early 1980s and mid-1980s, Horner's scores for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and Aliens (1986) were in constant rotation on my father's stereo in our family den.  

That was the location where, on my Atari 800, I wrote short stories and fan fiction and the like.   

Horner's compositions including "Stealing the Enterprise" (from Search for Spock) and "Futile Escape" (from Aliens) were downright rousing.  I remember that whenever those works came on, I would want to jump up out of my chair and run around the room, preferably with a phaser or pulse rifle in hand.

So I absolutely associate Mr. Horner's work with my youth, and more than that, many of my "own" adventures (like a series of short stories I penned in a series called "Omega World.")  The music of James Horner was not just rousing, it was big and emotional, and could bring any scene to life.  

I first read of James Horner in regards to low-budget films such as Humanoids from the Deep (1980) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), but after seeing Wrath of Khan, it was truly love at first listen. His scores for Krull (1983), Brainstorm (1983) and Cocoon (1985) were equally memorable.

The rest of the world reports Mr. Horner, of course, as the composer of the scores to Titanic (1997) or Avatar (2009), but for me, I associate him forever with heroes like Willow (1987), or The Rocketeer (1991). 

When I think of Ripley's heroism, or Spock's death and rebirth, my mind goes immediately to those  immortal Horner scores.

It is such a sad day, losing James Horner. He composed the soundtrack of my youth, and I wish I could thank him in person for all the joy, energy, and creativity his music has brought into my life.


  1. Very sad day. James Horner was one of my favorite composers. I think Star Trek 2 The Wrath of Khan to be one of the best movie soundtracks ever made and not appreciated enough.

  2. Sad news about Mr Horner's passing indeed. I discovered him when I saw Battle Beyond the Stars in its original release. Then and there I thought he was a guy to watch. His score for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan put him on this 'list'... even though I like Horner's score, overall, his Trek theme is truly horrible. In all fairness to the composer, Horner admitted in an interview years ago that he had a difficult time writing "joyous" music -- it showed in the likes of his theme tune for Willow which was a blatant lift from Schumann's Symphony No 3.

    For me, James Horner never lived up to the potential he showed early in his career, but, compared to today's typical film composer he was steps above.

    It's always sad when someone dies, and his talents will be missed.

  3. I'm right there with you. I'm a big film score fan, and have appreciated Horner's work through the years, but his 80s material is what I love the best about his work. He really had a unique musical voice and was one of the titans of 80s film music (along with John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith).

  4. I know it's pointless, but I always get upset with mainstream media when they talk about men and women who made significant contributions to a specific genre. He did so much more than work with Alec Gillis' man crush.I honestly am not a fan of Horner's later work. But I will champion his New World scores, Star Trek 2, Star Trek 3, Wolfen, and Krull till hell freezes over.