John Barry dies aged 77
John Barry, the composer of some of cinema’s most memorable scores, from James Bond to Born Free and Dances With Wolves, has died aged 77.
In a short statement, his family said Barry died on Sunday in New York. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Laurie, his four children and five grandchildren.
Barry was at the top of his profession for nearly 50 years, winning five Oscars and providing the music for more than 100 movies – including Out of Africa, which he once named as his favourite – and TV shows such as The Persuaders! and Juke Box Jury.
But it was his association with James Bond that defined his career. It began in 1962 when he arranged Monty Norman’s distinctive theme into an anthem on Dr No and was followed by 11 subsequent 007 movies including Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights.
The current Bond composer, David Arnold, paid one of many tributes to Barry. He told BBC 6 Music: “It’s impossible to separate James Bond from John Barry’s music. They went hand in hand. He was able to show you the menace and the sexiness and the aggression and the emotion. Everything that is cool and fabulous about James Bond is in the music. You could be stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 in a Ford Fiesta, but if you’re playing a John Barry score, you’re in an Aston Martin.”
Arnold said he got to know Barry well and the composer was hugely supportive. “Meeting him was like touching the hem of God’s frock. Today, everyone is saying the same thing: he was the governor and it’s a sad and profound loss.”
Actor Michael Crawford, a close friend of Barry’s, said: “He wrote some of the most memorable and beautiful film scores we could ever wish to hear.”
Don Black, the lyricist who co-wrote songs including Diamonds Are Forever with Barry, said: “I think I knew him as well as anyone in the world. We were best friends for a long time, since the early 60s.
“The thing about John that I will always remember was he never changed. He was very much the Yorkshireman whether he was in Beverly Hills or Manhattan. He lived in Oyster Bay, New York, for 30 or 40 years but you would never know it. There was no trace of America about him; he brought York to New York.”
“He had a wonderful talent and gave me my start with Thunderball and I owe him a great deal.”
There were also numerous tributes on Twitter. Music producer Mark Ronson wrote: “RIP John Barry. One of the greatest composers EVER . Goldfinger Diamonds Are Forever View To A Kill … & Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, You Only Live Twice etc … every time John Barry sat down to write a score, he wrote a modern standard.”
Another came from comedian Sue Perkins, who won celebrity conducting contest Maestro. She wrote: “R.I.P John Barry – a man who made the world sound sexy for a while.”
Source: The Guardian 31st January 2011