James Bond Composer John Barry Dies at Age 77

Oscar-Winning Composer John Barry has died of a heart attack at age 77. He was perhaps best known for his arrangement of Monty Norman's James Bond theme, which led to him scoring 11 Bond films including Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever. But Barry was a versatile and talented composer beyond the Bond films. His memorable scores ranged from quirky jazz ( The Knack...and How to Get It) to impressive regional work (Midnight Cowboy, Walkabout) to even sweat-drenched, neo-noir saxophone (Body Heat). For further testament to his talent, one needs only to look to his music for a mostly-forgotten 1965 film that has since been used in over half a dozen movies, from CGI-animated kid's fare to a film by the Coen Brothers.

I'm talking about music for the 1965 film Born Free, which was about the couple who raised orphan lion cub Elsa the Lioness, to adulthood. While the film had a warm reception upon release, it has not survived nearly as long as the music that Barry wrote for it. Not only did his theme song become a pop hit, but it has been re-used in a wide variety of films since its release, all the way up until today. To wit, the song has appeared in:

·Both Madagascar films

·Burn After Reading

·Chalie's Angels Full Throttle


·A Guy Thing

·Soft Toilet Seats

·The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag

·The Longest Yard

·Living Free (1974)

·Casino Royale (1966)

And just in case it's not already stuck in your head, here is the theme from Dr. No. While Norman has the sole credit for with writing it, John Barry has publicly defended his authorship multiple times, saying that he took Norman's manuscript, arranged the music and composed additional music.



  • Tony Tilton says:

    If you have a copy of "Moviolo", the PBS Great Performances piece on Barry's music, he describes the incident he had with the director of Born Free and it's hilarious. Barry composed what he considered a "Disney-fied" score for the film but the director had loftier ambitions and they clashed until the executive producer told Barry to do what he thought best. Barry did and won the Oscar. He also wouldn't put up with Barbra Streisand and quit Prince of Tides, using that theme material for "Moviola" and later for "Across the Sea and Time". And yes, he DID do the definitive arrangement and composed large parts of the James Bond theme-it was the contract with Monty Norman that kept his name as sole composer (but who did Broccoli and Saltzman hire to continue the music and invent an entire genre of film music?). John Barry will be sorely missed!

  • Michael says:

    Oh, really bad news for today :/ Another really talented man died...five Oscars speak for themselves...

  • Old Movie Buff says:

    I didn't realize that all the above were composed by him...but I didn't see the credit for "Somewhere in Time"...Thanks for the update. He will be missed very much!

  • Mike Ryan says:

    I loved his score for The Black Hole. I actually have it on my iPod.