John Barry Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trivia (36)  | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (4)

Born in York, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Died in Oyster Bay, New York, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJohn Barry Prendergast
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Barry was born in York, England in 1933, and was the youngest of three children. His father, Jack, owned several local cinemas and by the age of fourteen, Barry was capable of running the projection box on his own - in particular, The Rialto in York. As he was brought up in a cinematic environment, he soon began to assimilate the music which accompanied the films he saw nightly to a point when, even before he'd left St. Peters school, he had decided to become a film music composer. Helped by lessons provided locally on piano and trumpet, followed by the more exacting theory taught by tutors as diverse as Dr Francis Jackson of York Minster and William Russo, formerly arranger to Stan Kenton and His Orchestra, he soon became equipped to embark upon his chosen career, but had no knowledge of how one actually got a start in the business. A three year sojourn in the army as a bandsman combined with his evening stints with local jazz bands gave him the idea to ease this passage by forming a small band of his own. This was how The John Barry Seven came into existence, and Barry successfully launched them during 1957 via a succession of tours and TV appearances. A recording contract with EMI soon followed, and although initial releases made by them failed to chart, Barry's undoubted talent showed enough promise to influence the studio management at Abbey Road in allowing him to make his debut as an arranger and conductor for other artists on the EMI roster.

A chance meeting with a young singer named Adam Faith, whilst both were appearing on astage show version of the innovative BBC TV programme, Six-Five Special (1957), led Barry to recommend Faith for a later BBC TV series, Drumbeat (1959), which was broadcast in 1959. Faith had made two or three commercially unsuccessful records before singer/songwriter Johnny Worth, also appearing on Drumbeat, offered him a song he'd just finished entitled What Do You Want? With the assistance of the JB7 pianist, Les Reed, Barry contrived an arrangement considered suited to Faith's soft vocal delivery, and within weeks, the record was number one. Barry (and Faith) then went from strength to strength; Faith achieving a swift succession of chart hits, with Barry joining him soon afterwards when the Seven, riding high on the wave of the early sixties instrumental boom, scored with Hit & Miss, Walk Don't Run and Black Stockings.

Faith had long harboured ambitions to act even before his first hit record and was offered a part in the up and coming British movie, Wild for Kicks (1960), at that time. As Barry was by then arranging not only his recordings but also his live Drumbeat material, it came as no surprise when the film company asked him to write the score to accompany Faith's big screen debut. It should be emphasised that the film was hardly a cinematic masterpiece. However, it did give Faith a chance to demonstrate his acting potential, and Barry the chance to show just how quickly he'd mastered the technique of film music writing. Although the film and soundtrack album were both commercial successes, further film score offers failed to flood in. On those that did, such as Never Let Go (1960) and The Amorous Mr. Prawn (1962), Barry proved highly inventive, diverse and adaptable and, as a result, built up a reputation as an emerging talent. It was with this in mind that Noel Rogers, of United Artists Music, approached him in the summer of '62, with a view to involving him in the music for the forthcoming James Bond film, Dr. No (1962).

He was also assisted onto the cinematic ladder as a result of a burgeoning relationship with actor/writer turned director Bryan Forbes, who asked him to write a couple of jazz numbers for use in a club scene in Forbes' then latest film, The L-Shaped Room (1962). From this very modest beginning, the couple went on to collaborate on five subsequent films, including the highly acclaimed Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), King Rat (1965) and The Whisperers (1967). Other highlights from the sixties included five more Bond films, Zulu (1964), Born Free (1966) (a double Oscar), The Lion in Winter (1968) (another Oscar) and Midnight Cowboy (1969).

In the seventies he scored the cult film Walkabout (1971), The Last Valley (1971), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) (Oscar nomination), wrote the theme for The Persuaders! (1971), a musical version of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and the hit musical Billy. Then, in 1974, he made the decision to leave his Thameside penthouse apartment for the peace of a remote villa he was having built in Majorca. He had been living there for about a year, during which time he turned down all film scoring opportunities, until he received an invitation to write the score for the American TV movie, Eleanor and Franklin (1976). In order to accomplish the task, he booked into the Beverly Hills Hotel for six weeks in October 1975. However, during this period, he was also offered Robin and Marian (1976) and King Kong (1976), which caused his stay to be extended. He was eventually to live and work in the hotel for almost a year, as more assignments were offered and accepted. His stay on America's West Coast eventually lasted almost five years, during which time he met and married his wife, Laurie, who lived with him at his Beverly Hills residence. They moved to Oyster Bay, New York and have since split their time between there and a house in Cadogan Square, London.

After adopting a seemingly lower profile towards the end of the seventies, largely due to the relatively obscure nature of the commissions he accepted, the eighties saw John Barry re-emerge once more into the cinematic limelight. This was achieved, not only by continuing to experiment and diversify, but also by mixing larger budget commissions of the calibre of Body Heat (1981), Jagged Edge (1985), Out of Africa (1985) (another Oscar) and The Cotton Club (1984) with smaller ones such as the TV movies, Touched by Love (1980) and Svengali (1983). Other successes included: Somewhere in Time (1980), Frances (1982), three more Bond films, and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).

After serious illness in the late eighties, Barry returned with yet another Oscar success with Dances with Wolves (1990) and was also nominated for Chaplin (1992). Since then he scored the controversial Indecent Proposal (1993), My Life (1993), Ruby Cairo (1992), Cry, the Beloved Country (1995) and has made compilation albums for Sony (Moviola and Moviola II) and non-soundtrack albums for Decca ('The Beyondness Of Things' & 'Eternal Echoes').

In the late nineties he made a staggeringly successful return to the concert arena, playing to sell-out audiences at the Royal Albert Hall. Since then he has appeared as a guest conductor at a RAH concert celebrating the life and career of Elizabeth Taylor and made brief appearances at a couple of London concerts dedicated to his music. In 2004 he re-united with Don Black to write his fifth stage musical, Brighton Rock, which enjoyed a limited run at The Almeida Theatre in London.

He continued to appear at concerts of his own music, often making brief appearances at the podium. In November 2007, Christine Albanel, the French Minister for Culture, appointed him Commander in the National Order of Arts and Letters. The award was made at the eighth International Festival Music and Cinema, in Auxerre, France, when, in his honour, a concert of his music also took place.

In August 2008 he was working on a new album, provisionally entitled Seasons, which he has described as "a soundtrack of his life." A new biography, "John Barry: The Man with The Midas Touch", by Geoff Leonard, Pete Walker, and Gareth Bramley, was published in November 2008.

He died following a heart-attack on 30th January 2011, at his home in Oyster Bay, New York.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Geoff Leonard

Spouse (4)

Laurie Barry (3 January 1978 - 30 January 2011) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Jane Sidey (1969 - 1978) ( divorced)
Jane Birkin (16 October 1965 - 1968) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Barbara Pickard (1959 - 1963) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (36)

Has scored 11 of the James Bond films and his influence was very much heard in the first, Dr. No (1962), via his work on The James Bond Theme.
On Tuesday June 25, 2002, he was confirmed as an Honorary Freeman of the City of York in a special ceremony at the city's Assembly Rooms. He received his award from City of York Council at a special luncheon at the Assembly Rooms where he once used to play trumpet in a jazz band on Saturday nights in the 1950s.
On Friday June 28, 2002, at The James Bond Celebrity Golf Classic and Gala Dinner, held at the prestigious Stoke Poges, Stoke Park Club, Barry received the prestigious GoldenEye award, for his contribution to the music of James Bond. The award was courtesy of The Ian Fleming Foundation.
He was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honors List for his services to music.
Children: Suzanne (with Barbara Pickard), Sian (with Ulla Larsson), Kate Barry (with Jane Birkin) and JonPatrick (with Laurie Barry).
Was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship at the Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square, London, February 12, 2005, becoming the first composer to receive the honour.
His "We Have All the Time in the World," sung by Louis Armstrong, from the soundtrack of the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) -- in which 007 weds -- was found in 2005 to be the third most popular choice for UK just-married couples' first dance (after Bryan Adams and The Carpenters).
Presented with the Music Industry Trusts' Award in 1999 for his outstanding contribution to the British music industry.
Japanese film and television composer Shiro Sagisu has acknowledged Barry's work as an influence; in fact, one of Shirô's compositions for Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) is a blatant homage to a theme called "007" which appears in several James Bond film scored by Barry.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1998.
Counts Goldfinger (1964) as his personal favorite of all his 007 scores.
At one point during the inception of his song "Goldfinger," Barry approached fellow-composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse about writing the lyrics. Barry proceeded to play the first few bars and both men sang: "... wider than a mile ..." (from Henry Mancini's "Moon River"). The first three notes of both songs have identical melodies.
When Barry won Oscars for "Best Music, Original Music Score" and "Best Music, Original Song" from Born Free (1966), not only was it his first Oscar victory, it was also the first time an Englishman had won both those particular categories. Barry first heard of his wins from friend (and future "Phantom of the Opera" star) Michael Crawford who'd seen the ceremonies on TV in New York and called him in the UK with the news.
Made many recordings with Johnny De Little, including the film themes "The Knack" and "Days of Wine & Roses".
The BBC frequently uses his film themes and cues during documentaries or factual programmes such as Top Gear, Countryfile etc.
To date (2009), the composer holds the record for the most James Bond scores - a total of 12. Barry also holds the record for the most consecutive 007 scores - six.
Early in his career the composer owned an E-Type Jaguar car.
Federico Fellini once confessed to an interviewer that Barry's Goldfinger (1964) was his favorite movie score.
Met his fourth wife, Laurie Barry, through 007 producer Barbara Broccoli.
September 2006 - in London for a concert of his music at the Royal Albert Hall.
September 2004 - in London for the opening of his stage musical version of Graham Greene's 'Brighton Rock', with lyrics by Don Black.
Residing in Oyster Bay, New York. [January 2009]
His memorable string introduction to "You Only Live Twice" was sampled by former Take That singer and solo superstar Robbie Williams as the main hook for his first UK number one single "Millennium" in 1998.
He was cremated.
He was unable to score Licence to Kill (1989) as he was undergoing throat surgery, so Michael Kamen filled in.
He regarded his score for The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) as his least favourite James Bond score, having only three weeks to do it.
He was unable to score The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and For Your Eyes Only (1981) as he was unavailable to work in the United Kingdom because of tax reasons. Marvin Hamlisch and Bill Conti filled in.
He declined an offer to score GoldenEye (1995), so Éric Serra filled in.
He was unavailable to score Live and Let Die (1973), so George Martin stepped in.
He recorded a score for Howard the Duck (1986) that went unused, after producer Gloria Katz deemed it to be too old-fashioned and lacking in energy. Sylvester Levay was hired to rescore much of the film, including nearly the entire final third act.
He wrote a score for The Golden Child (1986), but it was rejected in favor of Michel Colombier's synthesizer music. Two Barry compositions remain in the soundtrack, one of those being Ann Wilson's "Best Man in The World" (La-La Land released the complete work of both composers).
He suffered a rupture of the oesophagus in 1988, following a toxic reaction to a health tonic he had consumed. The incident rendered him unable to work for two years and left him vulnerable to pneumonia.
In 1999 Barry was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) at Buckingham Palace for services to music.
In 1975 Barry moved to California. A British judge later accused him of emigrating to avoid paying £134,000 due the Inland Revenue. The matter was resolved in the late 1980s and Barry was able to return to the UK. He subsequently lived for many years in the United States, mainly in Oyster Bay, New York, in Centre Island on Long Island, from 1980.
He was invited to do the music for Never Say Never Again (1983), but he politely declined, out of respect for Albert R. Broccoli, and his association with EON Productions.
He's composed and conducted the music for all the Bond films, up to the time of his death, with the exception of Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Licence To Kill and Goldeneye.

Personal Quotes (4)

Geoff Leonard knows more about me than I know myself.
[on the singer who sampled "You Only Live Twice" for his first number one solo single] I wouldn't know Robbie Williams if I fell over him.
[on being awarded an O.B.E.] I'm very honored. I really didn't expect. My father received an MBE at the end of World War II and I didn't believe I would be doing the same.
[on The John Barry Seven] I hated it. I hated it. It was a means to an end. I never wanted to work for anybody else, I always wanted to be my own boss. And so the Seven was a means to get started but I hated performing, really hated it.

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