THE SKILL of a great film composer is to marry moving images with sound in such a way that they seem organically linked. Yesterday the superlative John Barry united film and music one last time, as figures from both circles offered tributes to his career on the news of his death at 77.
Mr Barry, a Yorkshire native who died of a heart attack in his adopted home city of New York, played a vital part in establishing the James Bond films in the public imagination. He also won a total of five Oscars for his work on 'Dances With Wolves', Out Of Africa', 'The Lion In Winter' and 'Born Free', for which he won two.
Many of his most famous and evocative scores were written in the 1960s. Yet prior to his film-scoring career, Mr Barry had considerable success with his own pop group, the John Barry Seven, which he formed in 1957. While his first passion was classical music -- his idol was Gustav Mahler -- together with lyricists such as Don Black and Leslie Bricusse he composed grand orchestral melodies that were still catchy enough to create some of the era's most memorable pop songs. 'Thunderball' remains in Tom Jones's repertoire, while 'You Only Live Twice', featuring Nancy Sinatra, proved so timeless that it was sampled prominently in Robbie Williams's single 'Millennium' more than 30 years later. Don Black, who wrote the lyrics for 'Born Free', fondly remembers the John Barry of his youth, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Bond himself .
"He used to have lots of beautiful women and fancy cars and all of that. He was a handsome, eligible bachelor, very vibrant. I don't know who you'd liken him to -- the George Clooney of his day, I suppose." (© Independent News Service)