007 MAGAZINE - The World's Foremost James Bond Resource!

JAMES BOND
NEWS

 
 

JOHN BARRY
(November 3, 1933 - January 30, 2011)

PORTRAIT BY MARK MAWSTON

3 November 2021
On the 88th Anniversary of his birth, 007 MAGAZINE pays tribute to the five-time Oscar-winner, and eleven-time James Bond soundtrack composer - the never to be forgotten John Barry.

Dr. No Soundtrack Album 1965

John Barry portrait by Mark Mawston

From Russia With Love Soundtrack album 1963
Goldfinger Soundtrack album 1964

With a dictionary’s worth of superlatives already written about John Barry during his long and distinguished career, where does one begin an attempt to encapsulate or pay tribute to his unique contribution to the relatively new art of film scoring, and the wider impact his music has had on world culture? Important art should move us, and Barry’s music has often moved us in spades. He is the only film composer ever whose work has transcended a legion of fans to the wider public outside that inner circle of hardcore Barry soundtrack aficionados. While many a ‘man or woman in the street’ may still be unable to tell you who it was that composed much of what they’ve heard of his work, the fact remains that Barry’s music will still be familiar to their collective ear in a way that no other film composer’s work has ever been, or will ever be.

Thunderball Soundtrack album 1965
On Her Majesty's Secret Service Soundtrack album 1969
10th Anniversary Soundtrack album 1972
Moonraker Soundtrack album 1979
A View To A Kill Soundtrack album 1985

Listen regularly to examples of Beethoven, Mozart, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, or the works of any of the other great and respected classical composers of yore, and your ear will eventually become attuned to recognise a thematic pattern in their music, which immediately informs the listener to whom they are listening, as is exactly the case with John Barry’s music. And like the classical composers of the past, Barry will have an audience for his work hundreds of years from today.

John Barry has often been quoted as referring to his work on the Bond films as “Million-dollar Mickey Mouse music”, which could give one the impression he looked down on this creative output and was being purposefully condescending of its importance or relevance. I don’t believe a word of it! I’ve always been of the mind to believe that Barry was very much a self-deprecating man and honestly never grasped how wonderful his own work was or how affecting, inspirational, and important it became to millions of people around the world.

While there are many examples one could suggest from Barry’s Sixties’ Bond and non-Bond soundtrack output, which illustrate his masterful ability to weave a tapestry of musical notes into the most effective thematic overlay for a scene or sequence on screen, in this instance, listen to the many layered ingredients which make up the tracks ‘The Wedding’, ‘James Bond - Astronaut?’, ‘Countdown For Blofeld’, and ‘Bond Averts World War Three’ in his score for You Only Live Twice. Listening to these Barry tracks it becomes immediately apparent to the educated musical ear this score has been created and assembled by a master technician and musical genius. Never a lazy notation or musical short-cut can be heard in Barry’s work, and everything in his score for You Only Live Twice is as aurally rich, detailed, and opulent as Ken Adam’s sets and Freddie Young’s Technicolor photography; each complementing the other, gelling into stylised perfection; this work is of its time, and accordingly can now be considered, like an old master, impossible to replicate.

With such an impressive and sizeable catalogue of work forming his portfolio, we are indeed lucky, very lucky, we have so much wonderful music to choose from and which we can never tire of hearing. John Barry’s legacy, his gift to the world, will live on indefinitely in the hearts and minds of the millions of people his music has touched and will continue to touch across the sea of time.

Graham Rye
Editor & Publisher
007 MAGAZINE
January 30, 2011

You Only Live Twice Soundtrack album 1967
Diamonds Are Forever Soundtrack album 1971
The Man With The Golden Gun Soundtrack album 1974
Octopussy Soundtrack album 1983
The Living Daylights Soundtrack album 1987

Originally published in 007 MAGAZINE Issue #54 February 2011 - Back Issues still available:

007 MAGAZINE Issue #54
February 2011

Cover: A recreation of Raymond Hawkey's celebrated 1963 THUNDERBALL PAN paperback cover with cut-out bullet holes.
36 pages [A4-size]
007 MAGAZINE Issue #54
FEATURE The Man With The Golden Eye
EDWARD MILWARD-OLIVER considers the life and work of his friend Raymond Hawkey, the award-winning graphic designer and author who died in August 2010.
INTERVIEW “As long as the collar and cuffs match”
In remembrance of this witty and talented man who injected great fun into his Bond pictures, RICHARD SCHENKMAN's 1980 interview with the late Tom Mankiewicz.
INTERVIEW NUMBER 3
RICHARD SCHENKMAN conducts an exclusive interview with seven-time James Bond Associate Producer Stanley Sopel.
OBITUARY John Barry (1933-2011)
GEOFF LEONARD and GRAHAM RYE pay their own personal tributes to 'The man with the Midas touch'.

 

£9.99 (plus applicable p&p) PURCHASE HERE


James Bond News

OFF THE RECORD: JAMES BOND ON VINYL

FACT FILES