Celebrated film composer James Horner feared dead in plane crash

James Horner

James Horner, the Oscar-winning composer who gave many hit films their sonic and emotional core, was feared to have died in a plane crash Monday.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

James Horner, the Oscar-winning composer who gave many hit films their sonic and emotional core, was missing and feared dead after a small plane he owned crashed in the Los Padres National Forest near the border of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties Monday. 

The single-engine craft was one of several planes registered to the 61-year-old film composer, who was known to be an avid flying enthusiast. It was unknown what caused the plane to crash.

“Although we are all awaiting official confirmation that our dear friend and client James Horner was in fact the pilot, we are shocked and deeply saddened to learn that his single-engine aircraft was involved in a fatal crash yesterday morning in northern Ventura County,” the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, which represents Horner, said in a statement. 

MORE: Oscar-winning composer James Horner’s death in plane crash confirmed


“Our thoughts and prayers remain with James’ family at this difficult time.  We can offer no further comment for the time being, except to ask that the family’s privacy be respected in the days ahead,” the statement said. 

The incident was reported shortly before 9:30 a.m. Monday on Quatal Canyon Road, a remote stretch in the national forest, said Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Capt. John Reilly.

The crash of the single-engine S312 Tucano sparked a small brush fire that grew to about two acres, Reilly said. County fire crews doused the flames.

Earlier, Jay Cooper, the longtime attorney for Horner, confirmed that the plane involved in the crash was one of five aircraft owned by the composer. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.


Over a career spanning nearly four decades, Horner earned multiple Grammy Award and Academy Award nominations for his work on films such as “Field of Dreams,” “Glory,” “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart” and “A Beautiful Mind.” He won two Academy Awards for composing the music in “Titanic,” including Celine Dion’s hit song “My Heart Will Go On,” which he co-wrote with Will Jennings.

One of Hollywood’s most highly regarded and prolific film composers, Horner wrote the music for well over 100 movies in the course of his career, touching on every conceivable genre.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: James Horner scored ‘Aliens’ to ‘Legends of the Fall,’ and now: ‘Casper’

His credits include some of the most successful films of the last three decades, and he collaborated with many of the industry’s top directors, including Ron Howard, Terrence Malick and James Cameron.

The “Titanic” orchestral soundtrack sold more than 27 million copies worldwide, while “My Heart Will Go On” would become a radio staple and one of the best-selling singles of all time.

“I think people hire me for the slightly weird angle that I bring,” Horner told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “Part of the trick is keeping it sort of simple; you have to give the impression of not that much music playing when there’s really a lot.”

In addition to “Titanic,” Horner collaborated with Cameron on the director’s 1986 film “Aliens,” for which the composer earned his first Academy Award nomination. He worked with Cameron again in 2009, when he wrote the score for the director’s science-fiction smash “Avatar.”

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