John Barry 1933 - 2011

It's safe to say that James Bond would never have been quite the same without John Barry, the legendary composer who has died at the age of 77. Barry's lavish scores were instantly recognisable. You knew right away it was him and that you were back in the world of James Bond. His music brought a grandness and sense of style to the Connery films (and a few Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton ones), producing classic scores and songs. If it was Ken Adam that made us understand what a Bond film should look like then it was John Barry that taught us what it should sound like. Can you possibly imagine the charmless and ludicrous theme song to Quantum of Solace happening on John Barry's watch! Barry's majestic music helped to make Bond an iconic brand and he would become truly irreplacable.

After incredible work on all the Connery films and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Barry would be less of a regular but still score four Roger Moore films and the debut of Timothy Dalton. He was an impossible act to follow and subsequent films, try as they might, never replicated that Bondian atmosphere, elegance, scope, and magic that he brought to the series. Watch The Living Daylights and listen to his instrumental action version of the theme song during the big battle sequence in Afghanistan. Brilliant!

Away from Bond, Barry produced award winning scores for Out of Africa, Born Free and Dances with Wolves. His distinctive sound memorably graced many films from Zulu to The Ipcress File. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1998 and received the BAFTA Fellowship Award in 2005. He won Grammys, Emmys and Oscars, and just about everything else in a career that spanned 50 years. While he was alive there was always a faint hope that he might do one more Bond film, however unlikely that was. Sadly though, Barry felt he had more nothing more to add to James Bond and wanted to pass the baton onto someone else after completing The Living Daylights. He was much missed on Licence To Kill and GoldenEye, two films that would have stood instantly taller and felt more epic with his lustrous music behind them.

His Bond scores, like James Bond himself, really will be forever. They will still stylishly transport us away to a fantasy world every time we watch one of the films and John Barry OBE will always remain one of the most important and brilliant people the series has ever been lucky enough to be associated with.



c 2011 Alternative 007