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For all but one entry in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movie franchise, composer Bill Conti was a firm collaborator that helped tell the story of an underdog’s rise to become champion, and the complications that came after. Only missing out on the well-beloved/recently tweaker Rocky IV, Conti and Stallone worked closely together to establish the musical language of Rocky Balboa’s struggles and triumphs. It’s a feat that has been celebrated by Sly himself, as a cool throwback post recently showed the man himself directing his composer, and his orchestra, in a recording session.
Sylvester Stallone provided this throwback on his Instagram account, which presumably comes from the recording session for 2006’s Rocky Balboa. As Bill Conti conducts the orchestra, Stallone watches on and listens to their rendition of “Gonna Fly Now,” the ever famous theme from the Rocky series. Conti then asks Mr. Stallone what he thinks of the results, and the video below shows you all you need to see from that point on:
The final film in the mainline Rocky saga, before Michael B. Jordan’s Creed spun off from that base legacy, Rocky Balboa was also the last in the Bill Conti scores for the Rocky Cinematic Universe. Seeing both Conti and Sylvester Stallone returning to the franchise 16 years after Rocky V landed in infamy, it’s the gap between films that tips off the potential timeframe for this behind the scenes video. As Stallone speaks with the horn section, telling them it’s the first time people have heard that tune in years, it’s a fair bet that this came from Rocky Balboa’s scoring session.
While Bill Conti isn’t officially retired from musical scoring, Rocky Balboa does stand as his most recent film credit to date. Tenet and Black Panther mastermind Ludwig Göransson has since stepped in as the composer for the Creed series, but Conti’s iconic theme has still been handed down to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis “Donnie” Creed as a battle cry through thick and thin. It’s led to similarly iconic moments of musical brilliance, such as the crucial training montage from Creed II, shown below.
The Rocky series has found itself back in the spotlight recently, with both the announcement that Michael B. Jordan would be directing Creed III, and that Sylvester Stallone has recently restored his director’s cut of Rocky IV. Audiences will, as a result, be hearing Bill Conti’s rousing theme quite a bit as a result of both of those processes. In which case, the horn section should probably start tuning up right about now, as sooner rather than later, those notes are gonna fly again.
If you’re looking to rewatch the Rocky franchise, from its first installment through to Rocky Balboa, you’re in luck. HBO Max is currently streaming all six movies, for you the audience to enjoy. So should you currently be a non-subscriber, you should totally check out the six-month prepaid subscription offer, that would allow you to get in the ring with a cinematic legend.