Monday 31 January 2011

Barry, John

(Yes, I know it's Barry John)

With today's news of the sad passing of John Barry (fast forward to Brother Mondo's boutique blog), now is probably a good a time as any to finally give Barry his proper dues for writing that theme; the theme his sparring partner Monty Norman took all the credit for. The roots of the James Bond ident can be traced back to The John Barry Seven and the soundtrack he was commissioned to write for the Beat Girl movie in 1960: featuring the evocative sound of Vic Flick (of whom more later in the year) on guitar. Listen to this and tell me what it reminds you of.

The John Barry Seven: Beat Girl

Barry and Monty Norman tussled in the High Court many times over paternity of the 007 theme, and its associated riches, but Norman's legal team shaded it on points. And anyway, if Norman had written the bloody thing, why was he never asked to contribute to any more Bond movies? As you can read here (if you've got a couple of hours to spare), the studio probably weren't happy with Norman's final offering and got Barry to do a total rewrite.

Bond aside, John Barry's legacy will be with us for generations to come. Composers and musicians alike love to reference and name-check him; not least The Special Agents who, along with the afore mentioned Vic Flick, supplied the soundtrack to spoof spy movie Wilson Chance in 2005.

The Special Agents: Wilson Chance Theme


  1. Cheers for the linky John - how in the name of Leo Fender, have I never heard of Vic Flick before - he's right up my Tin Pan Alley...

    Interesting to see how everybody's choices differ when dipping into the JB catalogue

  2. He's the boy isn't he? Or, should I say, 'This Boy?' Taken from his web bio:
    In 1963/1964, Ringo's Theme was written by Lennon-McCartney and credited to the George Martin Orchestra as additional music for "A Hard Days Night". The song, vocally, is "This Boy" and is both in the movie and on the soundtrack.
    Sir George Martin wanted a guitar sound close to the "James Bond Theme" and booked Vic for the gig.
    Instead of the Clifford Essex, Vic used a '62 Fender Stratocaster with a '62 Fender Vibrolux amplifier and got the exact sound George was happy with.

  3. It's been gratifying to see how much respectful coverage his passing has received. All those powerful and poignant themes and scores have been burned into the subconscious of a generation. Not a bad life's work.

  4. The Ipcress File and the chilling cacophony at the terrifying concluding scenes of Day of the Locust is the stuff I remember JB for.

  5. Lets not forget the Howard the Duck score too, classic!

    Seriously though, his contribution was immense. Not just the stuff I knew, but the stuff I didn't know too... amazing how many times a flick to the credits on a sleeve would show the words J BARRY as composer.

    A great man