John Barry has always been one of my favourite musicians and the news of his death today saddens me. I've mentioned Barry several times in this blog and given that he won five Oscars,I think it can safely be said that he was Britain's finest ever writer of film music.
John Barry will forever be associated with the music for James Bond, and rightly so, but he achieved so much more. Working with a variety of lyricists, including Don Black and the great Hal David, he produced some of the finest songs of the 60s. My personal favourite is 'We Have All the Time in the World', co-written with Hal David and sung by Louis Armstrong, of all people, in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. And the best tune might just be 'The Girl with the Sun in her Hair', from You Only Live Twice, even though most people associate it with a TV commercial.
There's a drama and a dynamism about Barry's music that sets it apart. He's associated with lush, romantic sounds, but it's no coincidence that he wrote music for classic crime films and TV shows. His music is truly exciting.
Think of The Ipcress File, The Persuaders, and the magnificent score to that brilliant film Body Heat. All of them gain a great deal, in different ways, from Barry's music. There are plenty of other examples of his gifts from the crime genre, even before we come to Midnight Cowboy, Born Free and Dances with Wolves. A little while ago, I tried to find a DVD of one of his concerts - but there are none available. Astonishing. John Barry was a superstar among modern composers.