Massimo Morante, the Italian guitarist and co-founder of the band Goblin, has died. He was 69 years old.
The musician’s passing was confirmed by his bandmates, who shared a post on their official Facebook page reading, “Goblin announce with a heavy heart and in total disbelief the passing of founder and guitar master Massimo Morante.”
On her own Facebook page, Morante’s daughter Valerie added, “It is with indescribable pain, a pain that trumps words, that breaks the breath and hammer the heart, that I announce the death of my father, Massimo Morante.”
Morante and his co-founder, keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, launched the Italian prog rock band as Cherry Five in 1973, eventually recruiting bassist Fabio Pignatelli, vocalist Tony Tartarini, and drummer Carlo Bordini — though the lineup would go through many, many iterations over the years as they became Goblin.
While recording their first album as Cherry Five, Morante and his bandmates were approached with the opportunity to collaborate with director Dario Argento on the soundtrack to his 1975 film Deep Red (or Profundo Rosso, in Italian) as Goblin. The title track eventually reached the top of the charts in Italy, and this success led to Goblin crafting the soundtracks to 1977’s Suspiria, 1978’s Martin, and 1978’s The Bloodstained Shadow, and working with directors like Brunco Corbucci, Antonio Bido, and Luigi Cozzi.
Goblin are also well-known to American audiences for their 1978 album Zombi, the original score for George A. Romero’s horror classic Dawn of the Dead. Over the years, Morante also ventured into solo work, starting in the late ’70s and releasing albums such as 1980’s Abbasso and 1982’s Corpo a Corpo.
Following the soundtrack to 1989’s The Church, Goblin went on a recording hiatus that lasted until 2001, when they reunited with Argento for the score to his stylish Italian crime thriller Sleepless. In 2005, Morante, Pignatelli, keyboardist Maurizio Guarini, and drummer Agostino Marangolo recorded their independently-released comeback album BackToGoblin2005 and four years later, they embarked on a short-lived reunion tour before disbanding in 2010.
Throughout the rest of the 2010s, Goblin performed and recorded sporadically, all while competing with other offshoots and incarnations of the group like Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, Daemonia, Goblin Rebirth, and The Goblin Keys. The band’s final album with Morante was 2018’s Fearless (37513 Zombie Ave).