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John Barry Dies Aged 77
Legendary composer and Oscar winner

31 January 2011  |  Written by Phil de Semlyen  

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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."


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Your Comments

FLASHMAN
It's hard to be objective when your heart is heavy; He wasn't as prolific as Moroconne or Goldsmith or as creative as Williams, but his epic romantic stuff is unlikely to be equalled, let alone surpassed; All you can say about his bond with Bond is that the scores matched the films and the persona of the main character in a way that we have never seen...........the sense of menace, urgency, irony, grandeur and seduction; pitch-perfect in virtually every music cue he did. David Arnold s More

Posted by Frank Comiskey at 13:40 on 01 February 2011 | Report This Post

RE: Bad news
arial,helvetica"]onest I'm still partially in shock, so this'll probably ramble a bit, but I wanted to write something and share a story, I hope that a couple of people at least find it interesting!!! Although my stepdad had some John Williams soundtracks, Star Wars, Superman etc, and I enjoyed them, it was Barry's Bond music which I really credit with getting me into film music. The soundtracks were not that easy to find so I used to the videos of the films and record the music off More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 21:50 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Bad news
Sad day. Full tribute here adventures-in-couchsitting.blogspot.com/ More

Posted by Jonny Duckworth at 20:55 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

RIP
Sad to hear this news. His work was so varied with the epic sound of ZULU, the melancholy of MIDNIGHT COWBOY, the haunting melodies of DANCES WITH WOLVES alongside his well-known action pace of the BOND soundtracks. Quite simply, he was the one composer who made me realise just how much a good soundtrack can add to a movie. RIP Mr Barry. More

Posted by davidjthomson at 20:48 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Very Sad
A huge talent and a giant of 20th Century Cinema. More

Posted by Knight of Fury at 19:31 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

A sad day and will be sorely missed, RIP to the Guv'nor!
The only music that my Father played to me that really connected with me, Barry has had a profound efect on my love of music and I remember fondly playing the vinyl copies of the Bond soundtrack from my Dad's collection. Scoring with such skill and originality, a unmistakeable sound that wasat times the best thing about films it was accompanying, You Only Live Twice, Moonraker & View to a Kill are awful films but Barry's score were always class and the films themselves didn't deserve such q More

Posted by agent cooper at 19:29 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

The Greats
Bernard Herrmann Elmer Bernstein Jerry Goldsmith John Williams John Barry ...hard to believe only Williams left. Thanks for creating the soundtrack to my teens. Please listen to Blessed Illusion by John Barry (Album - Eternal Echoes). Everything great about Barry can be heard on this track. More

Posted by zeech1941 at 18:53 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

The Greats
Bernard Herrmann Elmer Bernstein Jerry Goldsmith John Williams John Barry ...hard to believe only Williams left. Thanks for creating the soundtrack to my teens. Please listen to Blessed Illusion by John Barry (Album - Eternal Echoes). Everything great about Barry can be heard on this track. More

Posted by zeech1941 at 18:51 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Oh my god
As far as I am concerned there are 2 greats in film composing. One is John Williams, the other is John Barry. Sadly missed, a real legend in music. More

Posted by leroythemasochist at 18:17 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

RE: A true genius
A great loss, now all that remain of the neo-classical composers are Zimmer and Williams, you've seen the film trailers lately - it's al Nu Metal!! Out Of Africa is sublime, Bond is well....BondZimmer - Violin Williams - Trumpet Morricone - Reed instrument Barry - Anything remotely bombastic with a trumbone - Ah he delivered great stuff! RIP More

Posted by Sphinx at 18:04 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

A true genius
A true master of his craft. Dances with Wolves being one of my favorites. You can instantly recognize a JB score. A genius. RIP Mr John Barry. More

Posted by BubbaGump Shrimps at 17:55 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Farewell to the Guv'nor
One of the first vinyl albums I bought was the great movie sounds of John Barry. You could say he provided the soundtrack to my early film going. It wasn't just the Bond themes but also Zulu; The Ipcress File;the knack and Seance on a Wet Afternoon. Then there were also the TV themes most notably the Persuaders but also Vendetta. The man was a genius. More

Posted by caporip at 17:34 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

A true genius
A true master of his craft. Dances with Wolves being one of my favorites. You can instantly recognize a JB score. A genius. RIP Mr John Barry. More

Posted by BubbaGump Shrimps at 16:33 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

A true master of his craft. Dances with Wolves being one of my favorites. You can instantly recognize a JB score. A genius. RIP Mr John Barry. More

Posted by BubbaGump Shrimps at 16:33 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Tributes, thousands of them.
Zulu is one of the all time greatest scores, and obviously Bond goes without saying. RIP More

Posted by Spaldron at 16:21 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

RE: David Arnold
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnRaCEoDRaY My personal favourite. R.I.P More

Posted by The Todge at 15:06 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

RE: David Arnold
L: batfunk On this morning's edition of the Today Programme on Radio 4, David Arnold seemed to think that John Barry did the theme for Star Wars! John Barry will be missed dearly. uess he confused him with the other John Barry. More

Posted by Darth Marenghi at 14:52 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

RE: David Arnold
John Barry - genius film composer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvvq2PsgyHA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO4dS7gq73U Hauntingly beautiful melody and orchestration. That score was Oscar worthy. RIP More

Posted by dreddhead123 at 14:02 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

David Arnold
On this morning's edition of the Today Programme on Radio 4, David Arnold seemed to think that John Barry did the theme for Star Wars! John Barry will be missed dearly. More

Posted by batfunk at 13:52 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

We have all the time in the World
Very very sad. He leaves behind a fantastic catalogue though, my personal favourite being On Her Majesty's Secret Service R.I.P. More

Posted by Bill Clay at 13:42 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

a great man
jagged edge dances with wolves the chase More

Posted by bill the butcher at 13:34 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Terrible news
My love for BOND comes mainly from Barry who made an enormous contribution to the series...and without his input I am sure we would not have 22 Bond films today. RIP...and THANK YOU for creating the SPY music genre! More

Posted by KingOfPop at 13:19 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Ah, damn shame. He'll be missed. Leaves a great legacy behind. More

Posted by John Firth at 13:02 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Mr Music, will you play..
A genius who will be sadly missed. I love his Bond work but in my opinion his best work was Raise The Titanic. Certain parts of it still bring a tear to my eye! RIP J.B. More

Posted by Thunderball76 at 12:47 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

A Film music MASTER.
One of the greatest film composers who ever lived.His themes were classic and elevated otherwise sub par films to a whole new level.RIP Mr Barry and thank you for the music. More

Posted by darth silas at 11:38 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

Oh no... More

Posted by Manfrendshensindshen at 10:04 on 31 January 2011 | Report This Post

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