John Barry was arguably Britain's best-known composer
of film music. He emerged at a time when the score of a movie
was seldom recorded for the album market, and when the musical
arranger, for all his importance to the end product, was a
comparatively anonymous part of the film-making process. Barry's
career has spanned the years in which there has been this
increasing awareness of the importance of this role.
of the record industry in the 1960s; the growing recognition
of the impact of a memorable main theme on box office receipts;
a wider acceptance of film music as a serious art form; all
have helped ensure that securing the services of a 'name'
composer is now almost as important as hiring the star actors.
Musicians from all walks of life have entered the fray, but
only the most talented have survived.
only to glance through the sketchiest John Barry discography
to appreciate the remarkable diversity and quality of his
output. Stretching over a career now spanning forty years,
Barry's musical canon takes many different forms and so means
different things to different listeners, depending on how
they first heard his work. Film enthusiasts will no doubt
home in on his Oscar-winning scores for Born Free, The Lion
In Winter, Out Of Africa and Dances With Wolves as his major
creative achievements. Chart aficionados, on the other hand,
are likely to point to his commercial successes with 'Hit
And Miss' (adopted as the theme for BBC TV's Juke Box Jury)
and 'The Persuaders' (the theme from the ITV series of the
same name). Rock 'n' rollers are likely to consider the John
Barry Seven as one of the most innovative pioneers of the
pre--Beatles British music scene, while pop historians would
probably highlight his distinctive pizzicato string arrangements
for Adam Faith's phenomenally successful records as the definitive
John Barry sound. Whichever way you look at it, Barry's back
catalogue is impressively eclectic, while being stamped throughout
with a highly individual personal touch.
John Barry lived and works in Oyster Bay, New York.
When in England he operated from an apartment in Cadogan Square,
London. He died in Oyster Bay on January 30, 2011.