Monday, January 31, 2011

Composer John Barry Passes On

John Barry, who composed scores for James Bond films and many other movies, passed on 30 January 2011 at the age of 77. According to the BBC he died of a heart attack.

John Barry was born John Barry Prendergast in York on 3 November 1933. His father managed various cinemas throughout York, leading young John Barry to take an interest in movies. He showed a talent for music early, learning piano and trumpet. It was while serving in the military in Cyprus that Mr. Barry began performing as a musician. In the mid Fifties he served as an arranger for Ted Heath's Orchestra. In 1957 he formed his own band, The John Barry Seven. It was in 1959 that he broke into television, composing the theme to the series In 1960 he broke into movies, writing the score for the movie Never Let Go. Over the next few years he composed the score for the movie Beat Girl (1960) and the 1961 Girl on the Roof.

Eventually John Barry would come to the attention of the producers of a film called Dr. No, with whose score the producers were unhappy. John Barry gave them a new score (although Monty Norman would be credited with the "James Bond Theme"). John Barry's success with Dr. No would lead him to score most of the Bond films up to The Living Daylights (1987), as well as such films as Man in the Middle (1963), Zulu (1963), A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964), The Ipcress File (1965), The Knack...and How to Get It (1965), King Rat (1965), Born Free (1966), The Wrong Box (1966), The Quiller Memorandum (1966), Petulia (1968), The Lion in Winter (1968), They Might Be Giants (1971), King Kong (1976), The Deep (1977), The Game of Death (1978), The Black Hole (1979), Howard the Duck (1986), Dances with Wolves (1990), Chaplin (1992), The Scarlet Letter (1995), Playing by Heart (1998), and Enigma (2001).

Mr. Barry also composed extensively for television, including the themes for the shows The Human Jungle, Juke Box Jury, Vendetta, The Newcomers, Discs a Go-Go, The Persuaders, The Adventurer, and Great Mysteries.

John Barry was definitely one of the greatest film composers of all time. While "The James Bond Theme" itself is credited to Monty Norman, the scores of Dr. No and the further James Bond movies were all written by John Barry. Additionally, John Barry would compose such iconic scores as the ones for Born Free, The Lion in Winter, Mary Queen of Scots, and Dances with Wolves. His style was bigger than life, which made it perfectly suited for spy films such as the Bond movies, The Ipcress File, and The Quiller Memorandum. Few film composers achieved as much as John Barry did.

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