John Barry: A composer of scores as famous as the films

John Barry was the composer whose scores were as famous as the films for which he wrote them.







As the long-standing Bond soundtrack guru, he oversaw the stunning musical settings for films such as Goldfinger, From Russia With Love and You Only Live Twice.



Alongside his 11 007 soundtracks, Barry was also behind TV themes, sweeping compositions to films such as Born Free, Dances With Wolves and Out Of Africa and a short run of early 60s' guitar hits.



But it is his lengthy association with James Bond which will overshadow all else - his scores effortlessly switching from breathless chase scenes to the intimacy of a tryst as the secret agent indulges in yet another seduction.



Barry was brought up in York, where he attended a Catholic convent school and was encouraged with his musical gifts by the organist of the city's Minster.



His movie career perfectly channelled his family's interests - his father was a cinema owner and his mother a classical pianist.



Barry himself learned the piano as a child and was also a capable trumpeter. During his National Service he furthered his musical knowledge by taking a correspondence course in composition.



After leaving the army he formed a rock and roll band The John Barry Seven, notching up hits with Hit And Miss, later the theme to TV's Juke Box Jury, Beat For Beatniks and a cover of the twangy guitar track Walk Don't Run.



His work on TV series Drumbeat - for which the group had backed chart star Adam Faith - led to Barry being enlisted for the singer's first movie role, Beat Girl.



Producers of the first Bond film Dr No took him on to spruce up the James Bond Theme which had been written by Monty Norman. His skilful work on the tune, with its tricky jump of time signatures, led to him being taken on to handle the whole score for subsequent film adaptations of the Ian Fleming novels, beginning with From Russia With Love.



His work on the Bond Theme led to a notable court case in the late 1990s when Norman successfully sought to assert his authorship of the tune.



Barry artfully brought together wildly different sounds - big band, guitar riffs, lush string flourishes, jazz and Latin beats - and he provided the musical settings for such title songs as Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and You Only Live Twice.



He was also at the forefront of innovation with his use of a synthesiser which underpins On Her Majesty's Secret Service and his theme for TV's The Persuaders.



Even tiny excerpts from his scores have gone on to have lives of their own - the string flourish from You Only Live Twice was the inspiration for Robbie Williams's Millennium, and a short sample from the Goldfinger score was used in the Sneaker Pimps hit Six Underground.



Other celebrated film scores included Midnight Cowboy, the Cold War atmosphere of The Ipcress File, and Born Free - for which he won two of his five Oscars.



He also landed Academy Awards for The Lion In Winter, Out Of Africa and his most recent, in 1991, went to Dances With Wolves. Of his choices of film, he has remarked that he was drawn to movies which had a strong "sense of loss".



Barry's musical prowess led to work on mega-budget movies such as King Kong and Raise The Titanic in the ensuing years. And he continued to work on further Bond films, although he was not always the go-to man, with Sir George Martin and Marvin Hamlisch among those who stepped in.



He worked with Duran Duran and A-Ha during the 1980s, and on Bond themes for A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights. He once recalled, surveying his vast body of work: "When I look back on it, I think, how the hell did I do all this?"



Barry was married four times - his second wife was the actress Jane Birkin, a marriage which lasted three years. He had been married to his current wife Laurie since 1978.



He relocated from the UK in the mid-1970s, setting up home in the United States with a long-established home on Long Island, New York, although he kept a London base for many years.



In 1999 he was honoured with an OBE and was awarded a Bafta Fellowship in 2005.

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'