William "Bill" Conti (born 1942), Oscar and three-time Emmy Award-winner, is one of Hollywood's most sought-after composers and conductors for both film and television, but whose talents have inexplicably fallen out of favor in recent years. Born in Providence, Rhode Island on April 13, 1942, Conti began studying piano at age seven under the tutelage of his father, an accomplished pianist, sculptor and painter. At the age of 15, he organized a band and began to play for high school dances in Miami, Florida. He was a member of his high school band and symphony orchestra and won the "Silver Knight Award" from the Miami Herald for high achievement in the field of music. After Conti received his Bachelor of Music degree from Louisiana State University, he auditioned and was accepted at the Juilliard School of Music in New York where he studied with such musical greats as Hugo Weisgall, Vincent Persichetti, Roger Sessions, Luciano Berio, and Jorge Mester. In 1965 Conti won the Marion Feschl Prize for having composed the best song of the year. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from Juilliard, followed by a Master's Degree.
He made his film music debut in 1969 on the British film 'Juliette De Sade', directed by Warren Kiefer. Conti’s rise to fame was slow – he did not become internationally recognized until the mid-1970s, when he was plucked from relative obscurity to act as musical director for Paul Mazursky's 1973 film "Blume in Love". Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Conti was a popular and successful Hollywood mainstay, achieving world-wide fame for his legendary songs 'Gonna Fly Now' from "Rocky" (1977) and 'All Time High from "For Your Eyes Only" (1984), and winning an Oscar in 1983 for his score for the classic astronaut movie "The Right Stuff".
For the small screen, Conti also composed the themes to television's “Dynasty”, “The Colbys”, “Falcon Crest”, “Cagney & Lacey”, and “The Lifestyles of The Rich And Famous”, and wrote the theme song to the original version of “American Gladiators”.
He won an Oscar for Best Original Score for The Right Stuff in 1983 and received two Oscar nominations for Best Original Song—one for the Sheena Easton hit record "For Your Eyes Only" from the James Bond picture of the same title and one for "Gonna Fly Now," the powerful anthem from the 1976 Academy Award-winning Best Picture Rocky.
Since 1977, Conti has served a record 17 times as musical director of the annual Academy Awards telecast.
Films scored by Bill Conti: (in order of appearance; not a complete list)
- Harry and Tonto
- Every film except IV (which was by Vince DiCola)
- Private Benjamin
- For Your Eyes Only (the only James Bond film to be scored by Conti)
- The Right Stuff
- The Karate Kid Parts 1-3 and The Next Karate Kid
- North and South
- FX: Murder by Illusion
- Masters of the Universe
- Broadcast News
- Necessary Roughness
- Rookie of the Year
- The Scout
- Spy Hard
- Wrongfully Accused
- The Thomas Crown Affair