Monday, 31 January 2011

Farewell Mr Barry, John Barry

John Barry wrote the iconic theme for that secret agent, licensed to kill On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Although he never received an Oscar for Bond he did have five of the little Golden chaps. Two for Born Free (1966), one apiece for The Lion in Winter (1968), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances with Wolves (1990). He was classically trained as a pianist, but learnt to play trumpet before taking an interest in composing and arranging, it was during his national service that he began performing as a musician.

His band the John Barry Seven had some hits including Hit or Miss which he composed for the BBC's Juke Box Jury. His first movie score was in 1960 for Beat Girl it was also the first film soundtrack to be released as an LP in the UK. After he did the soundtrack for the Adam Faith film Never Let Go he was approached to come up with a theme for the lead character in a new film Dr No the composer Monty Norman had given the producers one they weren't satisfied with. The result Barry's polishing up* of course is legendary as preformed here a capella

Of course there was plenty more in the body of Barry's work, as the five academy awards, one Grammy and one BAFTA show. As well as the 11 Bond Films he scored there were 87 other movies that had the Barry touch as well as 25 TV themes and 5 musicals. In 1998 he was inducting the Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2005 was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship.

He hadn't been responsible for a Bond score since The Living Daylights (1987) but his successor David Arnold, suggested by Barry himself has remained true to his motive, most notably in Casino Royale (2006), where as each piece of Bond identity is acquired a little more of the theme is utilised until the crescendo of the final titles of the most quoted introduction in movies, "The name's...."

So the names Barry, John Barry 1933-2011.

* Many believe he did more than that and started from scratch, something that Barry himself always denied.

1 comment:

  1. The question of who composed the James Bond Theme was settled in Monty Norman's favour in a libel case in 2001. Having heard Norman's song 'Good Sign, Bad Sign' I would agree that he is the author. Nonetheless, Barry contributed a new middle eight and the orchestration is entirely down to him, as is easily seen by comparison with 1960's 'Beat Girl'. I have no doubt that the piece would have been nowhere near as popular had Barry had no part in it.