Widely known for his partnership scoring films and TV series for prolific director David Lynch. He has provided the theme for the popular TV series Twin Peaks, as well as film scores for Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet.
He earned his bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music. He subsequently obtained his M.F.A. in composition, piano, and French horn from the Manhattan School of Music in 1960.
In 1990, he earned the Grammy Award for best pop instrumental performance for his work on the Twin Peaks theme. He conducted a segment of the 1992 Olympics opening ceremony in Barcelona.
His father was of Sicilian descent, while his mother was of Italian descent.
He collaborated with Scott Ian's band Anthrax in 1993 on their single "Black Lodge," which was inspired by Twin Peaks.