Part of what made the 1976 sports drama classic Rocky – and its five direct sequels – so great was its iconic and timeless musical score. The theme song Gonna Fly Now is the favorite of sporting events & workout playlists, a fixture of popular culture in the United States.

In fact, the Rocky soundtrack peaked at #4 on the US Billboard 200 chart and was nominated for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes, while Gonna Fly Now hit #1 in 1977 and was nominated for both an Oscar and an Academy Award for Best Original Song, eventually being certified Gold by the RIAA.

What made the film score for Rocky so moving and powerful? It’s Catholic composer found inspiration in the Mass.

Watch below composer Bill Conti explain how the film score for Rocky was inspired by the Sacrifice of the Mass:

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