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John Barry

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John Barry
220px-Barry in concert
Background information
Birth name John Barry Prendergast
Born 3 November 1933
Died 30 January 2011 (aged 77)
Occupation Composer, conductor
Genre Film scores
Years active 1959-2004
Composer / Conductor

John Barry, OBE (3 November 1933 - 30 January 2011) was an English film score composer. He is best known for composing 11 James Bond soundtracks and was hugely influential on the 007 series' distinctive style. His work has included co-writing "A View To A Kill" with Duran Duran.

Career Edit

His family was in the cinema business, but it was during his National Service that he began performing as a musician. After taking a correspondence course (with jazz composer Bill Russo and arranging for some of the bands of the day, he formed The John Barry Seven,with whom he had some hit records, including "Hit and Miss", the theme tune he composed for the BBC's Juke Box Jury programme, and a cover of the Ventures' "Walk Don't Run".The career breakthrough for Barry was the BBC television series Drumbeat, when he appeared with The John Barry Seven and arranged for many of the singers, including Adam Faith.He also composed songs (along with Les Vandyke) and film scores on Faith's behalf. When Faith made his first film Beat Girl in 1960 Barry composed, arranged and conducted the score that was not only Barry's first film, but the first soundtrack album to be released on an LP in the UK. Barry also composed the music for another Faith film Never Let Go,orchestrated the score for Mix Me a Person, and composed, arranged and conducted the score for The Amorous Prawn.

Barry was employed by the EMI record company from 1959 until 1962 arranging orchestral accompaniment for the company's recording artists. From 1962 Barry transferred to Ember Records where he produced albums as well as arranging them.

These achievements caught the attention of the producers of a new film called Dr. No who were dissatisfied with a theme for James Bond given to them by Monty Norman . Barry was hired and the result would be one of the most famous signature tunes in film history, the "James Bond Themes".(Credit goes to Monty Norman, see below.) When the producers of the Bond series engaged Lionel Bart to do the next James Bond film From Russia with Love, they discovered that Bart could not read or write music. Though Bart wrote a title song for the film, the producers remembered Barry's arrangement of the James Bond Theme and his composing and arranging chores for several films with Adam Faith. Lionel Bart also recommended Barry to producer Stanley Baker for his film Zulu. Bart and Barry worked together in the film Man In The Middle.

This would be the turning point for Barry, and he would go on to become one of the most celebrated film composers of modern times, winning five Academy Awards and four Grammy Awards with scores for, among others, The Lion In Winter, Midnight Cowboy, Born Free and Somewhere In Time.

Barry is often cited as having a distinct style which concentrates on lush strings and extensive use of brass. However he is also an innovator, being one of the first to employ synthesisers in a film score On Her Majesty's Secret Service and to make wide use of pop artists and songs in Midnight Cowboy.

One of Barry's best known compositions is the theme for the 1971 TV series The Persuaders, also known as The Unlucky Heroes, in which Tony Curtis and Roger Moore were paired as rich playboys solving crimes. The score for the series was composed by Ken Thorne.The theme went on to be a hit single in some European Countries and has been re-released on collections of 1970s disco hits. The instrumental recording features Moog synthesisers.Barry also wrote the scores to a number of musiciansincluding Passion Flower Hotel (lyrics by Trevor Peacock), the successful West End show Billy (lyrics by Don Black) and two major Broadway flops, The Little Prince and the Aviator and Lolita, My Love, the latter with Alan Jay Lerner as lyricist.

During 2006, Barry was the executive producer on an album entitled Here's to the Heroes by the Australian ensemble The Ten Tenors. The album features a number of songs Barry wrote in collaboration with his lyricist friend, Don Black.

Barry's orchestra very often combines the horn section with the strings in a way that makes his music immediately recognisable. By providing not just the main title theme but the complete soundtrack score., Barry's music often enhances the critical reception of a film, notably in Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, and Dances with Wolves.

In November 2008 a 300-page biography, John Barry - The Man With The Midas Touch, by Geoff Leonard, Pete Walker & Gareth Bramley, was published by Redcliffe Press, Bristol.

James Bond Edit

After the success of Dr. No, Barry scored eleven of the next 14 James Bond films (but with Monty Norman continually credited as the composer of The James Bond Themes).

In his tenure with the film series, Barry's music, variously brassy and moody, appealed to film aficionados, as witnessed in the sales of the soundtrack albums. For From Russia With Love he composed "007", an alternate James Bond signature theme, which is featured in four other Bond films (Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker). The theme "Stalking", for the teaser sequence of From Russia With Love, was covered by colleague Marvin Hamlisch for the The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). (The music and lyrics for From Russia With Love's title song were written by Lionel Bart, whose musical theatre credits included Oliver!). Barry also (indirectly) contributed to the soundtrack of the 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale: his Born Free theme appears briefly in the opening sequence.

In Goldfinger he would perfect the "Bond sound", a heady mixture of brass, jazz and sensuous melodies. There is even an element of Barry's jazz roots in the big-band track "Into Miami," which follows the title credits and accompanies the film's iconic image of the camera lens zooming toward the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

As Barry matured, the Bond scores concentrated more on lush melodies, as in Moonraker and Octopussy. Barry's score for A View to a Kill was traditional, however his collaboration with Duran Duran for the title song was contemporary and one of the most successful Bond themes to date, reaching number one in the United States and number two in the UK Singles Chart. Both A View to a Kill and the Living Daylights theme by A-Ha blended the pop music style of the artists with Barry's orchestration. In 2006 A-Ha's Pal Waaktaar complimented Barry's contributions "I loved the stuff he added to the track, I mean it gave it this really cool string arrangement. That's when for me it started to sound like a Bond thing".

  • Dr.No (1962) — James Bond Theme used on main and end titles and Bond's arrival in Jamaica
  • From Russia with Love (lyrics by Lionel Bart) (1963)
  • Goldfinger (1964)
  • Thunderball (1965)
  • You Only Live Twice (1967)
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
  • Moonraker (1979)
  • Octopussy (1983)
  • A View To A Kill (1985),
  • Golden Globes Award nomination for Best Original Score - Motion Picture & for Best Original Song - Motion Picture)
  • The Living Daylights (1987)
  • David Arnold, a British composer, saw the result of two years' work in 1997 with the release of Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project, an album of new versions of the themes from various James Bond films. Arnold thanks Barry in the sleeve notes, referring to him as "the Guvnor". Almost all of the tracks were John Barry compositions and the revision of his work met with his approval — he contacted Barbara Broccoli producer of the upcoming Tomorrow Never Dies, to recommend Arnold as the film's composer. Arnold also went on to score the subsequent Bond films:The World Is Not Enough,Die Another Day,Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Recording "A View To A Kill" Edit

Beginning of April in 1985 Duran Duran initially attempted to record the Bond theme "A View To A Kill" with John Barry in John Taylor's flat in Knightbridge, London (UK), unfortunately they had all consumed far too many bottles of wine, John Barry vanished , only to turn up later, "a little bit worse for wear" in John's kitchen.

"A View To A Kill" and the instrumental B- side was eventually recorded with a 60 piece orchestra at Maison Rouge and CTS Studios both in London (UK).

Tribute Edit

At Coachella Festival 2011, Duran Duran performed a tribute medley to the late Barry with lead singer Simon Le Bon wearing a white tuxedo as homage to James Bond with an orchestra as they played a pared or rather slowed version of the song before launching into the final moments of the song in its upbeat form.


Other film credits Edit

  • Beat Girl (1960)
  • Never Let Go (1960)
  • The Cool Mikado (1962)
  • The Amorous Prawn (1962)
  • The - Shaped Room (1962)
  • Man in the Middle (1963)
  • A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964)
  • Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
  • Zulu (1964)
  • Boy and Bicycle (1965)
  • Mister Moses (1965)
  • Four in the Morning (1965)
  • The Party's Over (1965)
  • The Knack...and How to Get It (1965)
  • King Rat (1965)
  • The Ipcress Files (1965)
  • Born Free (1966)
  • The Chase (1966)
  • The Wrong Box (1966)
  • The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
  • The Whisperers (1967)
  • Dutchman (1967 )
  • Boom! (1968)
  • Petulia (1968)
  • Deadfall (1968)
  • The Lion in Winter (1968)
  • The Appointment (1969)
  • Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  • Monte Walsh (1970)
  • They Might Be Giants (1971)
  • Murphy's War (1971)
  • Walkabout (1971)
  • The Last Valley (1971)
  • Mary Queen of Scots (1971)
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972)
  • Follow Me! (1972)
  • A Dolls's House (1973)
  • The Tamarind Seed (1974)
  • The Dove (1974)
  • The Day of the Locust (1975)
  • King Kong (1976)
  • Robin and Marian (1976)
  • The Deep (1977)
  • First Love (1977)
  • The White Buffalo (1977)
  • Game of Death (1978)
  • The Betsy (1978)
  • Starcrash (1978)
  • Hanover Street (1979)
  • The Black Hole (1979)
  • Somewhere in Time (1979)
  • Touched by Love (1980)
  • Inside Moves (1980)
  • Night Games (1980)
  • Raise the Titanic (1980)
  • The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)
  • Body Heat (1981)
  • Frances (1982)
  • Murder by Phone (1982)
  • Hammett (1982)
  • The Golden Seal (1983)
  • High Road to China (1983)
  • The Cotton Club (1984)
  • Until September (1984)
  • Mike's Murder (1984)
  • Jagged Edge (1985)
  • Out of Africa (1985)
  • Howard the Duck (1986)
  • A Killing Affair (1986)
  • The Golden Child (1986)
  • Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
  • Hearts of Fire (1987)
  • Masquerade (1988)
  • Dances with Wolves (1990)
  • Chaplin (1992)
  • Ruby Cairo (1993)
  • My Life (1993)
  • Indecent Proposal (1993)
  • The Specialist (1994)
  • Cry,The Beloved Country (1995)
  • Across the Sea of Time (1995)
  • The Scarlet Letter (1995)
  • Swept fron the Sea (1997)
  • Mercury Rising (1998)
  • Playing by Heart (1998)
  • Enigma (2001)

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