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James Horner Eight Years Ago


James Horner died in a single-occupant plane crash eight years ago today, June 22, 2015. He was only 61.


Such a gifted artist—and so young, with so much more music to write. (When John Williams was 61, he scored the original Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List.)


What a tragedy.


By a total fluke I heard of Horner’s passing before the general public. I had called one of my friends at a CD label that morning to check in about a piece of business, and they had just heard from Horner’s agency (who were, needless to say, distraught beyond words), having called them about something unrelated.


When I first got into film music, I noticed the “gossip game” of being the first to know something. “Ooh, did you hear whose score got rejected”—things like that. (Ford Thaxton: this means you!)


It was really fun, I’ll admit, to be the first person to know something juicy...and then see people’s reactions as you told them...but yuck, what a shallow and soulless game.


I mean, bragging rights over gossip—how low can you go?


So I remember how upset I was to have heard of Horner’s passing—one of my favorite composers, whose scores meant so much to me, who I had never met and now never would meet. (I’m sure I’m not alone in that.) And the terrible and gruesome circumstances of his accidental death—well, all plane crashes are freaky.


But it was especially eerie to look at his wikipedia page, yet to be updated, and then see the breaking news that afternoon.


I did do one thing: I called a journalist friend ASAP to give him the heads up, knowing that he would surely be asked to write the obituary. Professional courtesy, which he appreciated.


I don’t know what I’m writing this now except that I guess enough time has passed to share my memories of this sad day on my obscure blog.


I was trying to think of what to say about wealthy and famous people who die in private planes (John Denver, JFK, Jr.)...but there’s no good comment to make. “Be more careful?”


My sympathies to their families.


It’s certainly not a hobby for me!

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7 Comments


Victor Field
Victor Field
Jun 30, 2023

Bragging rights for gossip...ugh.

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Popa Razzie71
Popa Razzie71
Jun 25, 2023

I rember being a Jerry Goldsmith snob for a few years then The Rocketeer came out and won me over, and became fanatical over his trumpet motif, wasn't happy if it didn't have it, but as II grew older I appreciated his other fusions Jazz ect

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Karim Elmahmoudi
Karim Elmahmoudi
Jun 23, 2023

I'm a licensed pilot, composer, and film music fan. Horner's death hit me in three different tight communities. I totally get his obsession with flight but it is hard to explain to someone who doesn't share that passion. There is no equal to that feeling of waking up before dawn to go to the tarmac, a slight mist on the ground and the plane as you begin the preflight preparation before most people are awake...imagining the adventure to come. Sometimes you fly right next to giants in the sky - 30,000 plus wall of a cumulonimbus storm cloud, sometimes you see the milky way from horizon to horizon. It's a very, very unique experience. It is very dangerous, no…

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excession30
excession30
Jun 22, 2023

I remember reading that for his first film, ST II, he begged the producer not to use the bagpipes in the funeral scene for Spock, feeling that a quiet somber tone would be more effective. I'd have to agree with that. As his reputation grew so much over the following decades, I wonder if a producer like Harve Bennett would be so obstinate and insistent when an established name like James Horner would disagree with him.

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Karim Elmahmoudi
Karim Elmahmoudi
Jun 23, 2023
Replying to

It's no worse than following it up with Amazing Grace. Something that had absolutely nothing to do with Spock, his philosophy, or the tone at the moment.

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