Best known for his work in collaboration with director Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman created one of the most distinctive bodies of work in contemporary film music, bringing his talents to a dark fantasy world populated by superheroes, monsters and freaks. The son of novelist Blossom Elfman, he was born May 29, 1953 in Amarillo, Texas; raised in Los Angeles, he and brother Richard relocated to France in 1971, where he joined a theatrical group. Elfman subsequently moved on to Africa, returning to the U.S. only after battling a bout with malaria; he then reunited with Richard, who had directed the 1980 film The Forbidden Zone and asked Danny to compose the score. Assembling a band dubbed the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, Elfman recorded the movie's soundtrack; abbreviated to simply Oingo Boingo, the group remained a going concern following the project's completion, later earning a significant cult following during the New Wave era.
In 1985 Elfman met fledgling filmmaker Burton; after collaborating on the score to the hit Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, they reunited frequently in the years to come, with Elfman composing the music to later Burton projects including Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks! and the Grammy-winning Batman. In 1993 Elfman also scored the Burton-produced Nightmare Before Christmas, dubbing the vocals of the animated musical's lead character Jack Skellington. Outside of Burton's sphere of influence, Elfman also scored a number of other features, most of them strange fables such as Darkman, Dick Tracy, Army of Darkness and The Frighteners; in 1997, he composed the music for Men in Black, the summer's biggest hit. Among his television work: the theme song to The Simpsons. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi