James Horner, composer of critically acclaimed, well-loved scores like those to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Aliens—for which he received his first Oscar nomination—died in a plane crash on June 22, 2015. He was 61.
According to Variety, "The two-seater single-engine S312 Tucano crashed north of Santa Barbara about 9:30 Monday morning and sparked a brush fire that was extinguished by country fire crews. Horner, a trained pilot, was alone in the plane, which was completely destroyed."
Horner's many other other compositions includes Avatar, Krull, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and even two episodes of Star Trek: Phase II. His non-genre work includes Titanic, Patriot Games, Apollo 13 and Braveheart.
According to his Wikipedia page, "Horner won two Academy Awards, for Best Original Dramatic Score (Titanic) and Best Original Song ('My Heart Will Go On') in 1998, and was nominated for an additional eight Oscars. He also won two Golden Globe Awards, three Satellite Awards, three Saturn Awards, and has been nominated for three British Academy Film Awards."
Horner's work has been an inspiration to me, personally: When I had my first cavity at age 33, I sat in the dentist's chair, frightened of the unknown. So I dialed up the soundtrack for Star Trek II on my iPod and blasted it as the dentist drilled. I was transported from a mundane chair to a captain's chair, and with each grinding noise, I was able to envision the battle in the Mutara Nebula.
"How are you doing?" the dentist asked when he was finished.
"Khaaaan!" I thought. My fear had evaporated, replaced by a desire to hunt Kirk's old nemesis.
That's the transformative power of great music. Thank you for that, James Horner. You will be missed.