Famed composer James Horner was killed yesterday when the plane he was piloting, a Tucano turboprop, crashed 60 miles north of Santa Barbara in the Los Padres National Forest, stunning the entertainment industry and millions of fans.
The son of Academy Award-winning set designer and art-director Harry Horner, James was born in Los Angeles in 1953 and began playing piano when he was just five. He attended the Royal College of Music in London and received his bachelor's in music from the University of Southern California. He went on to earn a master's and doctorate and began teaching music theory at UCLA. It was around this time that he began composing for film.
Horner's work on those early films earned him a chance to work in the Star Trek franchise, beginning with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982. He went on to score big hits of the 1980s, culminating in 1989 with Glory and Field of Dreams, and earning his first Oscar nominations with his score for Aliens and the song "Somewhere Out There" for An American Tail.
The 90s saw another string of blockbuster assignments for Horner, with Braveheart, Apollo 13, and Legends of the Fall among them, and more Oscar nominations. However, it was his work for James Cameron's Titanic that resulted in his first Oscar wins in 1997. His score and the song "My Heart Will Go On" became monumental best-sellers.
James Horner immeasurably enriched the art of film during his all-to-brief time and left a mark on any movie fan brought up in the past three decades. He was just 61.