John Barry (composer)

John Barry (composer)

Infobox Musical artist

Img_size = 150
Name = John Barry
Img_capt =
Landscape =
Background = non_performing_personnel
Birth_name = John Barry Prendergast
Alias =
Born = birth date and age|1933|11|3
York, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Died =
Occupation = Composer, conductor
Instrument =
Genre = Film score
Years_active = 1959 - 2001

John Barry, OBE (born John Barry Prendergast on 3 November 1933 in York, England) is a renowned Golden Globe and five-time Academy Award-winning English film score composer. He is best known for composing 11 James Bond movies and was hugely influential on the 007 series' distinctive style.

Personal life

Barry was educated at St Peter's School, York, and also received composition lessons from Francis Jackson, Organist of York Minster. Living in his native England until the mid 1970s, Barry spent some time in Spain (for tax reasons) but has since lived in the United States, mainly in Oyster Bay outside New York.

Barry suffered a rupture of the oesophagus in 1988 following a toxic reaction to a health potion he had consumed. The incident rendered him unable to work for two years and left him vulnerable to pneumonia.

Barry has been married four times. His first three marriages ended in divorce: Barbara Pickard 1959-63; Jane Birkin 1965-68; and Jane Sidey 1969-71. He married his current wife, Laurie Barry on 3 January 1978. Barry has three children, one each from his first, second, and fourth marriages.


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". Barry then met Adam Faith, and composed songs, along with Les Vandyke, and film scores on the singer'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 U.K.. 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 EMI Records from 1959 until 1962 arranging orchestral accompaniment for that label's recording artists. From 1962 Barry transferred to Ember Records where he produced albums as well as arranging them. [ [ The Ensemble Sospeso - John Barry ] ]

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 Theme". (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 "Zulu (film)". [Hall, Dr Sheldon "Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It: The Making of the Epic Movie" 2005 Tomahawk Press] 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 memorable scores written for "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".

Barry is also known for the famous score he wrote for the theme tune for 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 theme went 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 musicals, including "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 orchestration 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".

October 2007 saw John Barry announce a deal with Universal Music France for 2 albums scheduled for early 2008. These will be his first solo works for 7 years, and are expected to be a jazz based album and another concept orchestral album along the same lines as The Beyondness of Things and Eternal Echoes.

James Bond series

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 Theme".

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 lyrics for "From Russia With Love"'s title song were written by Lionel Bart, who went on to write "Oliver!")

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".cite video | people =Waaktaar, Pal (interviewee) | year =2006 | title =James Bond's Greatest Hits | url = | medium =Television | location =UK | publisher =North One Television]

*"Dr. No" (1962) — James Bond Theme on credit sequence only
*"From Russia with Love" (lyrics by Lionel Bart) (1963), Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Song in a Motion Picture
*"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 Globe 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. 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. [cite video | people =Macnee, Patrick (Narrator) | year = | title =The Bond Sound: The Music of 007 | url = | medium = DVD (Documentary) | location = | publisher =] Arnold also went on to score the subsequent Bond films: "The World Is Not Enough", "Die Another Day", "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace". Industry trade papers reported during the late 1980s that the studio decided to go for "a new sound", coinciding with Timothy Dalton assuming the role of James Bond (replacing the departing Roger Moore).Fact|date=February 2008 This occurred after "The Living Daylights", Dalton's first film in the series, which was Barry's last Bond score-to-date.

Authorship of the "James Bond Theme"

Sole compositional credit for the "James Bond Theme" is attributed to Monty Norman, who was contracted as composer for "Dr. No". However, Barry, while not publicly denying that, has implied otherwise. Some 30 years later, authorial matters came to a head in court when Norman sued "The Sunday Times" when that claim was published in a 1997 article naming Barry as the true composer; Barry testified for the defence. [cite web| url =| title = Monty Norman v. The Sunday Times: The "James Bond Theme" Lawsuit| accessdate = 2006-11-24| work = The John Barry Resource]

In court, Barry declared he had been handed a musical manuscript of a work by Norman (meant to become the theme) and that he was to arrange it musically, and that he composed additional music and arranged the "James Bond Theme". The Court also was told that Norman received sole credit, because of his prior contract with the producers; Norman won the lawsuit and was awarded damages. Nevertheless, on 7 September 2006, John Barry publicly defended his authorship of the theme on the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2. [cite web| url =| title = John Barry On The Bond Theme| accessdate = 2006-11-24| date = 2006-09-09| work = | publisher =]

Contemporary research indicates that it seems to have been John Barry who more or less composed the theme to the bigger part. This is, among other things, based on the theme's strong resemblance to his previous music, like the song Bee's Knees, and the fact that no other music in "Dr. No" sounds like the "James Bond Theme".

Other major film scores

*"Beat Girl" (1960)
*"Never Let Go" (1960)
*"The Cool Mikado" (1962)
*"The Amorous Prawn" (1962)
*"The L-Shaped Room" (1962)
*"Man in the Middle" (1963)
*"A Jolly Bad Fellow" (1964)
*"Zulu" (1964)
*"Boy and Bicycle" (1965)
*"Mister Moses" (1965)
*"Four in the Morning" (1965)
*"The Party's Over (1965 film)" (1965)
*"Seance on a Wet Afternoon" (1965)
*"The Knack …and How to Get It" (1965)
*"King Rat" (1965)
*"The IPCRESS File" (1965)
*"Born Free" (1966) (Two Academy Awards - Best Music, Original Song (lyrics by Don Black), Best Music, Original Music Score, Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture)
*"The Chase (1966 film)" (1966)
*"The Wrong Box" (1966)
*"The Quiller Memorandum" (1966)
*"The Whisperers" (1967)
*"Dutchman" (1967)
*"Boom! (1968 film)" (1968)
*"Petulia" (1968)
*"Deadfall (1968 film)" (1968)
*"The Lion in Winter" (1968) (Academy Award - Best Music, Original Score for a Motion Picture, BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score)
*"The Appointment" (1969)
*"Midnight Cowboy" (1969) (Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition)
*"Monte Walsh" (1970)
*"They Might Be Giants" (1971)
*"Murphy's War" (1971)
*"Walkabout" (1971)
*"The Last Valley" (1971)
*"Mary, Queen of Scots" (1971) (Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score)
*"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1972)
*"Follow Me!" (1972)
*"A Doll's House (1973 Garland film)" (1973)
*"The Tamarind Seed" (1974)
*"The Dove" (1974) (Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song)
*"The Day of the Locust (film)" (1975)
*"King Kong" (1976)
*"Robin and Marian" (1976)
*"The Deep" (1977) (Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song - Motion Picture)
*"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" (1980) (Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score - Motion Picture)
*"Touched by Love" (1980)
*"Inside Moves" (1980)
*"Night Games" (1980)
*"Raise the Titanic" (1981)
*"The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981 film)" (1981) (Razzie Award for Worst Musical Score)
*"Body Heat" (1981)
*"Frances" (1982)
*"Murder By Phone" (1982)
*"Hammett (film)" (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) (Academy Award - Best Music, Original Score, BAFTA Award nomination for Best Original Film Score)
*"Howard the Duck (film)" (1986)
*"A Killing Affair" (1986)
*"The Golden Child" (1986)
*"Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986)
*"Hearts of Fire" (1987)
*"Masquerade" (1988)
*"Dances with Wolves" (1990) (Academy Award - Best Music, Original Score, BAFTA Award nomination for Best Original Film Score, Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score - Motion Picture)
*"Chaplin" (1992) (Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Original Score, Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score - Motion Picture)
*"Ruby Cairo" (1992)
*"My Life (film)" (1993)
*"Indecent Proposal" (1993)
*"The Specialist" (1994)
*"Cry, The Beloved Country" (1995)
*"Across The Sea of Time" (1995) (3D IMAX movie)
*"The Scarlet Letter" (1995)
*"Swept from the Sea" (1997)
*"Mercury Rising" (1998)
*"Playing by Heart" (1998)
*"Enigma" (2001)


*"Passion Flower Hotel" (1965)
*"Lolita, My Love" (1971), a musical comedy (text by Alan Jay Lerner) based on Vladimir Nabokov's novel "Lolita"
*"Billy" (1974)
*"The Little Prince and the Aviator" (1981)

Television themes

*"Elizabeth Taylor in London" (Grammy award nomination) (1963)
*"Impromptu" (1964)
*"The Adventurer" (1972-1973)
*"Eleanor and Franklin" (1976)
*"The Newcomers (TV series)" (1965-1969)
*"Juke Box Jury" (1959-1967)
*"The Persuaders!" (1971-1972)
*"Vendetta (1966)" (1966)
*"The Human Jungle" (1963-1965)
*"Sophia Loren in Rome" (1964)
*"The Glass Menagerie" (1973)
*"Great Mysteries" (1973)
*"Born Free (TV series)" (1974)
*"Love Among the Ruins (film)" (1975)
*"The War Between the Tates" (1977)
*"Young Joe, The Forgotten Kennedy" (1977)
*"The Gathering (1977 film)" (1977)
*" (1977)
*"Willa" (1979)
*"The Corn is Green" (1979)
*"Svengali" (1983)
*"USA Today-The TV series" (1988)
*"The Witness" (1992)
*"John Barry-Moviola" (1993)

Other works

*"The Americans"
*"The Beyondness of Things" (1999)
*"Eternal Echoes" (2001)
*"The Seasons - a follow-up concept album due for release July 2008"

John Barry was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1998.


External links

*Shof|id=151|name=John Barry
* [ John Barry] at [ The Danish Filmmusic Society (DFS)]
* [ Biography of John Barry]
* [ Official "Somewhere In Time" Website (INSITE)]
* [ Filmtracks' Tribute to John Barry]
* [ John Barry: A Life in Music]
* [ John Barry discography at]
* [ An account of the lawsuit concerning the authorship of the James Bond Theme]
* [ Cinema Retro attends John Barry concert in Ireland and meets the man himself]

succession box
before=Monty Norman
Dr. No, 1962
after=Shirley Bassey
Goldfinger, 1964
title="James Bond" title artist
years=From Russia with Love, 1963
succession box
before=Nancy Sinatra
You Only Live Twice, 1967
after=Shirley Bassey
Diamonds Are Forever, 1971
title="James Bond" title artist
years=On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969
succession box
title=James Bond film score composer
before=Monty Norman
after=George Martin
succession box
title=James Bond film score composer
before=George Martin
after=Marvin Hamlisch
succession box
title=James Bond film score composer
before=Marvin Hamlisch
after=Bill Conti
succession box
title=James Bond film score composer
before=Bill Conti
after=Michael Kamen

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