Although his work on the Bond Films is his most famous work, the English-born composer wrote a long list of movie scores, including for “Midnight Cowboy,” “Dances with Wolves,” Cotton Club,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” and “Body Heat.” Barry was proud of his diversity in both action blockbusters, and the smaller, independent films.
He won two Oscars for “Born Free” in 1966, for best score and best song. He also earned statuettes for the scores to “The Lion in Winter” (1968), “Out of Africa” (1985) and “Dances with Wolves” (1990).
My all-time favorite however is not one of his most famous works, but I will admit to having it in my ‘classical’ playlist at home, from the film “Somewhere in Time.” (Yes, even this little rocker loves her classical music!) It is an elegant masterpiece that completely captured the emotions in this terrific movie.
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If you have not yet seen this little gem of a film, definitely do so. It’s an amazing piece of work, from the film to the music.
The Bond Films his most notable, he wrote music for “Goldfinger,” “From Russia with Love,” “Thunderball,” “You Only Live Twice,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “Diamonds are Forever,” “The Man with the Golden Gun,” “Moonraker,” “Octopussy,” “A View to a Kill” and “The Living Daylights.”
Other films included “Robin and Marian,” “Somewhere in Time,” “The Cotton Club,” “Howard the Duck,” “Mary, Queen of Scots” and “Chaplin” in 1992.
Barry trained as a pianist, studied counterpoint with York cathedral organist Francis Jackson, and later took up the trumpet. He founded a jazz group, the John Barry Seven, in 1957.
The group teamed with singer Adam Faith, scoring hits with “What Do You Want?” and “Poor Me,” and Barry moved into film work when Faith was tapped to star in “Beat Girl” (titled “Living for Kicks” in the United States).
“The James Bond movies came because we were successful in the pop music world, with a couple of big instrumental hits. They thought I knew how to write instrumental hit music,” Barry said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1991.
In an interview in 2008 with The Irish Times, Barry said his success “was not that difficult.”
“If you hit the right formula, if you have an instinct for music, if you apply it, if you have the good fortune to meet with certain people who teach you well … I didn’t find it all that difficult,” he said.
R.I.P. John Barry. You were magical. I myself am looking forward to the Oscars paying tribute to this great man and his music.
He is survived by his wife Laurie, his four children and five grandchildren. A private funeral was planned, the family said.