Five time Academy Award winner composer John Barry, whose most recognizable work is probably that which he wrote for the James Bond franchise, died in Glen Cove, New York of a heart attack yesterday. He was 77.
Barry first came to the attention of the James Bond franchise producers as they were working on its initial installment, Dr. No (1962). Unsatisfied with the work commissioned from composer Monty Norman for a “James Bond Theme,” the producers turned to Barry to rearrange the music. Barry, who already had years of experience as an arranger for his own combo the John Barry Seven and as a film composer, crafted Norman’s piece into the film series’ instantly recognizable signature tune. Although Barry received no on-screen credit for the assignment, his work impressed the producers enough that they hired him to score 11 films in the franchise. He also composed the equally recognized “007 Theme,” often used to score action sequences in the films. Barry often co-wrote the opening pop theme song for the films as well, which helped to create a thematic connection between the opening theme and the music throughout the film. His score for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was one of the first film scores to use a synthesizer.
In 1966, Barry won his first two Academy Awards – One for composing the score to the film Born Free and a second for Best Original Song for “Born Free” from the film, which he shared with lyricist Don Black. He would also take home Oscar gold for his work composing the scores for the films The Lion In Winter, Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Mary, Queen Of Scots (1971) and Chaplin (1992).
Barry’s film career spanned just over four decades starting with 1960’s Beat Girl and ending with 2001’s Enigma. In between, he wrote music for such films as Zulu (1964), The Knack… And How To Get It (1965), Midnight Cowboy (1969), King Kong (1976), The Black Hole (1979), Somewhere In Time (1980), Hammett (1982), The Cotton Club (1984), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Indecent Proposal (1993) and Mercury Rising (1998).