Before I settled down to write about John Barry, I
clicked the Spotify icon on my computer desktop and, scanning
the search results for John Barry, clicked together a play list
of his music.
From the opening bars of the first James Bond theme, I was
sliding, unstoppable, down memory lane, as film theme after
iconic film song, played in the background and I realised how
much a part of my "baby-boomer" life could be chronicled
by John Barry's music.
The first Bond movie - to view the original
1962 trailer, with the its first airing of the Bond theme, arranged
by John Barry, click the image above
It began, for me, in 1962
the moment the lights dimmed
and the opening sequence started, I was interested
When SHE walked out of the Caribbean and into the psyche of
a generation, I was hooked... very excitable 15 year-old that
Ursula Andress from that memorable scene
from Dr. No
- click the image to view the video sequence-
Shirley Eaton and Sean Connery - Goldinger
By the time Shirley Eaton fired my adolescent imagination with
her golden death-skin and Shirley Bassey belted out her famous
interpretation of his Goldfinger theme, John Barrys rise
to fame was ensured as Bond became a must-see, with movie after
movie transformed by his haunting melodies. Bond was with us
forever... and so was John Barry's music.
Jane Birkin, John Barry's second wife
I also remember, however, that I never really forgave him for
marrying Jane Birkin, whose memorable Je taime
kept many a teenager glued to their transistor, tuned to Radio
Luxembourg, long after lights-out! But then John, married
four times, always did seem to get the girl!
Whilst aware of the John Barry Seven, I was firmly entrenched
in the 60s music revolution and the Beatles, Dave Clark
5, The Kinks, Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys (I had an American
girlfriend!) etc were my daily fare, but when it came to the
well James Bond was Sean Connery and John
Barrys Bond theme was
well, Bond. Even though
there was early controversy over the originator of the Bond
theme, there can be no doubt that it was Barry, over the next
40 odd years and 11 more Bond movies, that took those few simple
opening bars, to craft the ultimate franchise theme music
always instantly recognisable, always subtly different. Always,
in all its variations, an essential part of the Bond movie experience.
There can be few people dun certain age
in the western world (and beyond), that cannot whistle or hum
the Bond theme
few kids of a generation that didnt
cry accompanied by his lilting, heart-string tugging Born Free
theme. (click here to listen and watch the trailer for Born
Born in 1933, film became a part of his life at a very early
age, as his father owned a chain of cinemas
John Barry was no stranger to the projection room. Coupled with
the musical bent of his parents (his mother was a pianist and
they also put on concerts in their cinema auditoriums) it is,
perhaps, no great surprise that he went on to use this experience
in his choice of career. From early beginnings as a national
service army bandsman, through arranging music for others, to
forming his own band, The John Barry Seven in 1957, he was firmly
on his way to recognition. An early success with Adam Faiths
What Do You Want If You Dont Want Money?" in
1959, led to his first film commission to write the music for
the Adam Faith vehicle, Beat Girl. This went on to become the
first Film Theme record released in Britain.
Moving to Hollywood (some say, only just ahead of the pursuing
Inland Revenue), Barry went on to become the highest paid and
most sought after music composer in Hollywood. His credits,
read like an encyclopaedia of late 20th Century movies. Landmark
blockbuster after Oscar winning film, bore his musical brand
and it comes as no surprise that he won no less than 5 Oscars
and the first ever BAFTA Fellowship awarded to a composer.
John Barry was awarded the O.B.E. (Civil) - (Order of the British
Empire) - in 1999 "For services to Music".
John Barry receives his BAFTA Fellowship
- click to the image above to view the presentation -
John Barry died in New York on 30th January 2011 at the age
of 77. He is survived by his fourth wife of 33 years Laurie,
his four children and five grandchildren.
Thank you for the music.