Duran Duran Wiki
Jonathan Elias
Background information
Born New York (USA)
Date 1956
Occupation Composer, record producer
Instruments Piano, others
Years active 1976-present
Labels Sony Classical
Record Producer

Jonathan Elias (born 1956) is an American composer and record producer, known for his movie soundtracks, production for several pop and rock acts, and his award-winning advertising music. His work has included co-producing Duran Duran's Big Thing album.


Elias was born in New York City in 1956. He started playing piano at the age of six, and was composing his own music by twelve, inspired in part by Broadway musicals. He liked some rock music, but also admired Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. He attended the Eastman School of Music with aspirations of becoming a classical composer and conductor. While still in school, he cut his teeth doing the music for movie trailers, most notably Alien, Blade Runner, Gandhi, and Back to the Future. He enrolled in Bennington College in Vermont in 1976, then went on to work on numerous movie soundtracks, starting with Children of the Corn and including Parents, Chaplin, and more.


He and his brother Scott Elias founded Elias Associates in 1980; it later became Elias Arts. The firm had several notable successes, including the crunching "Moon Landing" theme used in the top-of-the-hour branding of MTV, the Columbia Pictures logo theme, and the famous Yahoo! yodel. He met John Barry (of James Bond soundtrack fame) in the early 1980s, and began working with him on several movie soundtracks, including Jagged Edge and A View to a Kill. It was during the A View to a Kill sessions in 1985 that Elias met and became friends with the members of Duran Duran.

While working on the soundtrack to the controversial Adrian Lyne film 9½ Weeks the year after that, Elias and Michael Des Barres co-wrote the song "I Do What I Do", which was released as the first single from the soundtrack album. Des Barres had recently performed with Duran Duran's bassist John Taylor in the band Power Station, and he and Elias recruited Taylor to sing on the track — his first solo venture. The song went to #42 on the UK Singles Chart, and to #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Elias and Taylor also co-wrote and co-produced the melancholy piano instrumental "Jazz", released on the b-side of the single. Elias and Taylor went on to co-write an album's worth of additional unreleased material together that year, which would eventually be collected on Taylor's 1999 album Resumé Elias has produced albums for David Bowie, Grace Jones, B. B. King, Alanis Morissette, and James Taylor, and co-produced (with Daniel Abraham) Duran Duran's 1988 album Big Thing. He also returned to play Moog synthesizer on Duran's 1995 album Thank You.

In 1989, Elias recruited the entire Duran Duran lineup for his first solo album, called Requiem For The Americas. The most recognizable of Duran Duran's contributions to the album was vocalist Simon Le Bon's solo track "Follow In My Footsteps", which also featured vocalist Susanna Hoffs on backup vocals. John Taylor played bass on "The Chant Movement", with other Duran members adding their instrumental touches on various tracks.


Elias then worked with the band Yes on their 1991 album Union. Many band members were not speaking to each other, and the disjointed working atmosphere and the involvement of outside musicians (which allowed the piece to be finished at all) led to an uneven album which was generally unpopular with critics and fans. Elias was often blamed for the album's failure. In 1992, Elias moved to California, and shifted his focus from movies and rock music to advertising. His firm Elias Arts has won an Emmy Award for the "Move" theme for Nike Inc., and has garnered dozens of Clio Awards and other advertising trophies for work for top-line corporations such as Ford, GM, Nissan, Audi, Infiniti, Mercedes, AT&T, NASDAQ, IBM, Apple, Sony, Levi's, and Adidas. In 1999, Elias released another solo project, The Prayer Cycle, a nine-part contemporary choral symphony in twelve languages. In 2004, he released American River, a work combining piano and string quartet compositions with spoken word performances. He also collaborated with Robert Downey Jr. on his 2004 solo album The Futurist and on the soundtrack for Downey's film The Singing Detective. His worked on the films A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006) and Pathfinder (2007). His next album Prayers in Silence is to be released in 2007 by Universal Classics Group.


  1. ^ a b c Elias Arts
  2. ^ a b Artist Direct biography: Jonathan Elias
  3. ^ a b Official MySpace Page For Jonathan Elias
  4. ^ Taylor, John. Urban Experimental Work 1985/86: Interview with Jonathan Elias", February 23, 1999. (web archive)
  5. ^ Potts, Henry. Interview with Jonathan Elias, Bondegezou, March 2001.
  6. ^ Jonathan Elias at the Internet Movie Database