John Barry, the legendary film composer best known for his work on 11 Bond films, has died aged 77. He suffered a heart attack after a long period of ill health.
Barry won five Oscars and earned an OBE during his long and illustrious career, working with filmmakers as diverse as Stanley Baker, John Schlesinger, Sydney Pollack and Richard Attenborough. He was known for his catchy melodies, poignant strings and a seemingly effortless ability to capture the essence of movies like Zulu, Out Of Africa, Dances With Wolves and Born Free. It was for the latter that he picked up his first Academy Award, Born Free's beautiful, expansive soundtrack winning the Oscar for Best Score and Best Song in 1967.
It was for his work on the James Bond films, though, that Barry will be most fondly remembered. He was initially talent-spotted by producer Albert Broccoli, and enlisted to assist Monty Norman with the score for Dr.No. Barry then went on to compose the alternative Bond theme, 007, on From Russia With Love, and the music on nine other Bond films, including Goldfinger, Octopussy and Moonraker.
Barry was born in York and educated at a Catholic convent school in the city. With a classical pianist for mother and a father who owned cinemas in Lancashire and Yorkshire, film and music were in his blood. Barry's musical tutelage began in earnest under the eye of the organist of York Minister. He learnt to arrange music while on National Service and played trumpet in an army band, and fame followed soon afterward in the chart-friendly form of his band The John Barry Seven. It helped earn him a deal with EMI and brought him to the attention of Broccoli.
With a gilded and innovative career in movies that spanned more than 40 years, Barry was also instrumental in passing the James Bond torch to a new generation. He contacted Barbara Broccoli to recommend a young composer named David Arnold for Tomorrow Never Dies. Fittingly it was Arnold who announced the news this morning via his Twitter feed, writing: "It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that John Barry passed away this morning." Arnold added, "I am profoundly saddened by the news but profoundly thankful for everything he did for music and for me personally."