Born in Rome, Italy in 1928, Ennio Morricone was one of the most influential composers of all time. He started his career in 1946 and in the 60s had the chance to score many films directed by the legendary Sergio Leone, creating the perfect music for western-spaghetti’s like “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (1966).
Starred by Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef, the movie is one of the most famous and influential in history. One notable part of the score created by the Italian composer was “The Ecstasy of Gold“. The music is played when Wallach’s character is in the cemetery searching for the grave where the 200.000 in gold coins are hidden.
But it was also used live by other artists like The Ramones and Metallica. The Thrash Metal band uses the track as the intro of their concerts, being shown with the scene of the movie, since 1983. But what Ennio Morricone said about Metallica using “Ecstasy of Gold”?
Although Morricone was obviously more into classical music and other music genres, he was aware of Metallica and other artists using his compositions. He was very pleased about his songs being used by famous and influential artists like Metallica. But he felt like his music didn’t have much connection to what they were doing, only the simplicity of the composition.
He said that in an interview with The Quietus in 2010, when asked if he saw a link between his work and bands that paid tribute to him in that way. “There is not really much of a link other than for one thing: the simplicity of the form. That is, usually we would both use a three tone chord, say C major for example. That is what I use and that is what they use. So perhaps that is the link you were talking about,” Ennio Morricone said.
Talking with Dazed in 2006, he said he was really pleased about the use of his music by Ramones and Metallica. “I’m very pleased about it, actually. It means that my music is simple and precious at the same time. Sampling, by comparison, is a different matter. In some cases it’s good, at other times I’m not happy about it. But I’d rather not name names,” Ennio Morricone said.
They curiously were part of the tribute album “We All Love Ennio Morricone” released in 2007. Metallica covered exactly the track “Ecstasy of Gold”. Besides them that album also had names like Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters and Ennio himself.
The Italian composer passed away in 2020 at the age of 91 of injuries sustained to his femur during a fall. Metallica lamented his death, saying: “Your career was legendary, your compositions were timeless. Thank you for setting the mood for so many of our shows since 1983.”
James Hetfield also recalled the day they first played the song as their intro. “The day we first played ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ as our new intro in 1983 it was magic! It has become a part of our blood flow, deep breathing. (Also the) fist bumping, prayers and band huddle pre-show ritual ever since.”
“I have sung that melody thousands of times to warm up my throat before hitting the stage. Thank you Ennio for pumping us up, being a big part of our inspiration. And a bonding between band, crew, and fan. I will forever think of you as part of the Metallica family,” James Hetfield said.
Besides working with Sergio Leone, the Italian composer also worked with other famous directors. Some of them are Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Pedro Almodóvar, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.
Until 2016 Moriconne had sold an estimated amount of more than 70 million records worldwide. It is more than many famous Rock and Roll groups like ZZ Top, for example. During his career he also received many prizes, including two Academy Awards.
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