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In Passing: John Barry (1933-2011)

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Noted composer John Barry, who scored dozens of films over the course of his 50 year career, passed away January 30th at the age of 77.

Barry was born in the United Kingdom, November 3, 1933. He was originally trained to be a classical pianist. After a stint in the military, he began composing songs and quickly switched to scoring films. It was a good move on his part, as he would provide the music for some of Hollywood’s most memorable movies.

He would win five Academy Awards during the course of his career. Born Free (best score and song) plus The Lion In Winter, Out Of Africa, and Dances With Wolves all earned him Oscar statues. Despite these films, he is probably best remembered for providing the music for 11 of the first 14 James Bond movies. In addition he provided the music for such films as Midnight Cowboy, Somewhere In Time, Robin and Marion, and Chaplin.

He was one of the more prolific writers in film history. I counted at least 97 films, 24 television themes, plus 11 of his songs became hit singles in the U.K. His soundtrack albums sold tens of millions of copies. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1998.

Barry’s music will continue to be heard for generations as the films he scored will be broadcast over and over again as the years pass. So tonight, some James Bond on the television, and one last tip of the hat to John Barry.

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About David Bowling

  • Dee

    I love John Barry

  • Boeke

    I recall an interview with Barry where he said that the big brassy sound of some of his hits was inspired by the Stan Kenton big band sound, which some may remember.