by Jason Ankeny
Prolific film composer Randy Edelman was born June 10, 1947, in Patterson, NJ, and learned to play piano by ear and wrote his first songs at age 14. He briefly studied medicine at the University of Cincinnati before quitting school to pursue a career in music, eventually landing an arranging gig at King Records. In 1970, Edelman relocated to New York to work as a staff writer at CBS Records, concurrently playing keyboards in the Broadway production The Boyfriend. He issued his self-titled debut pop album in 1972, followed later that year by his first film score, Outside In. Around that same time, he settled in Los Angeles and became the regular opening act for the Carpenters, who covered his "Piano Picker" on their A Song for You LP. While solo records like 1973's Laughter & Tears and 1975's Prime Cuts earned Edelman a devoted cult following in Britain, back home he remained best-known as a songwriter, with artists as diverse as Patti LaBelle, Olivia Newton-John, and Bing Crosby recording his material; in 1976, Barry Manilow reached the Top Ten with Edelman's "Weekend in New England." During the early '80s, he began writing for television, most notably scoring the hit MacGyver, as well as a series of TV movies; his first major film work, on the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito comedy Twins, followed in 1988. After a flurry of comedic projects including Ghostbusters 2, Kindergarten Cop, and My Cousin Vinny, Edelman earned his first Academy Award nomination for his work on the 1992 historical action-drama The Last of the Mohicans. He later earned an Emmy Award for his contributions to NBC's coverage of the 1996 Summer Olympics.