The 007 of film scores passes on

By Sipho Hlongwane 1 February 2011

It is impossible to separate the James Bond films from the man who composed some of the most memorable scores to accompany 007’s exploits. That man is now passed, as was announced by his family on Sunday. The world will never forget John Barry. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

Barry’s list of film scores is long and illustrious. Beginning in the 1960s, he composed the accompaniment for films like “Zulu”, “Born Free”, “Out of Africa” and “Dances with Wolves”. He was nominated for seven Academy Awards, of which he won five and a Grammy Award for “Dances with Wolves”.

Born and educated in York (1933), UK, Barry moved to the US as a tax exile in 1970, where he worked and lived for most of his life. Aside from marrying four times, Barry led a tidy personal life. It was in his art where he made merry with his signature sound that relied heavily on the generous swell of strings and brass. Barry was also one of the first score composers to use pop songs and artists in his films.

Watch: James Bond composer John Barry dies by ITN.

Barry’s first Bond work was for 1964’s “Dr. No”, although Monty Norman received most of the credit for it. Due to the film score’s success, Barry would go on to compose 11 of the subsequent 21 Bond film scores. Some of his most memorable compositions were for “A View To Kill”, where he collaborated with Duran Duran for the title song, to enormous chart success. With the departing of Roger Moore as the lead character, the studios decided to go with a new Bond sound, and Timothy Dalton’s first Bond film “The Living Daylights” in 1987 was also Barry’s last Bond score. 

David Arnold, who took up the Bond score reins after Barry, said, “It’s impossible to separate James Bond from John Barry’s music. They went hand in hand. He was able to show you the menace and the sexiness and the aggression and the emotion. Everything that is cool and fabulous about James Bond is in the music. You could be stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 in a Ford Fiesta, but if you’re playing a John Barry score, you’re in an Aston Martin.

“Meeting him was like touching the hem of God’s frock,” Arnold said. “Today, everyone is saying the same thing: he was the governor and it’s a sad and profound loss.” DM

Read more: The Guardian.

Photo: Composer John Barry poses with the ‘BAFTA Fellowship’ award backstage at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London February 12, 2005. REUTERS/Matthew Dunham.



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