From the mid-'70s through the '80s, soul-stirring scores for such features as Rocky, The Right Stuff, and The Big Blue earned composer Bill Conti a special place in the hearts of filmgoers worldwide. Though his output in subsequent decades may not have lived up to his early work -- and his scores were not as available on CD as those of other composers -- Conti's association with longtime collaborator John G. Avildsen, combined with frequent television work and constant output, kept the award-winning composer busy. A native of Providence, RI, Conti majored in piano and composition at Louisiana University before earning his master's degree from the Juilliard School of Music in New York. His early work included scores for such films as Juliette de Sade (1969) and Harry and Tonto (1974). In 1976, his chart-topping theme for the Sylvester Stallone breakthrough Rocky proved to be a success for Conti, as well. In addition to proving an unexpected blockbuster at the box office, the film was also the beginning of an enduring professional relationship between the composer and director Avildsen.
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Although Conti's work in such features as The Right Stuff (1983, for which he took home an Oscar), The Bear (1984), North and South (1985), and Broadcast News (1987) resulted in rich success, his contributions to such Avildsen films as The Karate Kid (1984) and Lean on Me (1989) also brought out the drama. In addition to feature work, Conti remained busy scoring music for such popular TV series as Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and American Gladiators. If the composer's name wasn't mentioned as much during the '90s, it certainly wasn't for lack of output. His music for such films as Rookie of the Year (1993), Spy Hard (1996), and The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) were all commendable efforts. Never one to shy away from a challenge or turn down a lesser-known film, Conti ushered in the new millennium with scores for Avenging Angelo (2002) and the curiously titled boxing drama 2 Birds With 1 Stallone (2003). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi