R.I.P. James Bond Theme Composer John Barry (1933-2011)

5-time Oscar winning Composer John Barry died yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 77.

Despite being best known for his soundtrack work on 11 James Bond films as well as writing the incredibly famous and much copied “James Bond Theme”, Barry’s Academy Award wins were for his scores and songs for BORN FREE (won both Best Score and Best Song), THE LION IN WINTER, OUT OF AFRICA, and DANCES WITH WOLVES.

Over the course of his 50 year career, Barry lent his distinctive touch to tons of movie and television projects, the last being the Dougray Scott/Kate Winslet drama ENIGMA in 2001.

Raleigh News & Observer music critic David Menconi wrote today that Barry “created some of the most iconic scores Hollywood has ever heard, none more so than 1967’s ‘YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (an orchestral hook later used to good effect on English pop star Robbie Williams’ 1998 hit single ‘Millennium’).

Many Raleigh residents have been enjoying Barry’s 007 scores via the Colony Theater’s revival series “James Bond Originals” which has presented 35 millimeter prints of the fan favorites the Thursday of every month since June last summer.

As 1973’s LIVE AND LET DIE (showing on February 24th) has Beatles producer George Martin taking on the composing duties, 1974’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (March 31st) will be the next in the series to feature a John Barry/James Bond score.

Incidentally as a kid I like many thought that singer/composer Monty Norman had written and arranged the “James Bond Theme” which first appeared in DR. NO (1962). This was because Norman was credited for it on many of the original soundtrack records.

A few lawsuits have occurred over the credit with both composers claiming authorship, but as Barry pointed out he was invited back to score many of the following films and Norman wasn’t.

R.I.P. John Barry.

More later…