Vangelis dies: ‘Chariots of Fire’ composer was 79

ATHENS, Greece — Vangelis, the Greece-born electronic composer who wrote the Academy Award-winning score for the film “Chariots of Fire” and music for dozens of other movies, documentaries and TV series, has died. He was 79.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other government officials expressed their condolences Thursday. “Vangelis Papathanassiou is no longer among us,” Mitsotakis tweeted.

Greek media reported that Vangelis died in a French hospital Wednesday.

Born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou on March 29, 1943 near the city of Volos in central Greece, Vangelis started playing the piano at age 4, although he got no formal training and claimed he never learned to read notes.

He played in several bands and solo, but his huge breakthrough came with the score for “Chariots of Fire,” a 1981 film that told the story of two British runners in the 1920s. Vangelis’ score received one of the four Academy Awards the film won.

The signature piece is one of the hardest-to-forget movie tunes worldwide — and has also served as the musical background to endless slow-motion parodies.

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