William “Bill” Conti is an American film music composer who is frequently the conductor at the Academy Awards ceremony.
Conti, an Italian American, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Lucetta and William Conti. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University, and also studied at the Juilliard School of Music. He is a past winner of the Silver Knight Award presented by the Miami Herald.
His big break into celebrity came in 1976, when he was hired to compose the music for a small United Artists film called Rocky. The film became a phenomenon, and Conti’s training montage tune, “Gonna Fly Now” topped the Billboard singles chart in 1977. He also composed music for the sequels Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. Conti also worked for some other films and, eventually, for television series. In 1981, he wrote the music for the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, when John Barry was unwilling to return to the United Kingdom for tax reasons, and provided the score for playwright Jason Miller’s film version of his Pulitzer Prize winning play That Championship Season the following year.