Master Composer John Barry Dead At 77

Sad news this morning: five-time Oscar winning composer John Barry died yesterday in New York at the age of 77.

In addition to his many Academy honors — two in 1966 (song and score) for “Born Free” and then one apiece for “The Lion in Winter” (1968), “Out of Africa” (1985) and “Dances With Wolves” (1990) — Barry is notable for having scored 11 James Bond films, along with countless others: “Midnight Cowboy,” “Walkabout,” “The Day of the Locust,” “Game of Death,” “The Golden Child,” “Howard the Duck,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Chaplin,” “Indecent Proposal”… you’re getting the idea here, right?

Barry’s work on Bond is by far his most recognizable. The iconic Bond theme was originally credited to composer Monty Norman, though some questions have been raised in recent years over how much of the work belongs to Barry. It is now commonly accepted that Norman’s contribution laid out the basic notes, which Barry then fleshed out into a full orchestral piece. Which means Barry, at the very least, co-created the James Bond theme. No big deal.

Read on for some of our favorite samplings from his catalog.

“Dr. No” (1962)

Embedded from

Unlike later James Bond film title sequences, the intro attached to this first movie is pretty straightforward. No sultry female singer or specially written song. Just the theme music rattling around in your brain. And it’s all Barry.

“Goldfinger” (1964)

Embedded from

The first Bond intro to feature vocals, as sung by Shirley Bassey, who frequently returned in the years that followed. If her voice seems familiar, that may be because she sang on the Propellerheads track “History Repeating,” which was featured in “There’s Something About Mary.”

“A View To A Kill” (1985)

Embedded from

“A View To A Kill” is far from the best Bond flick, but there is nothing bad you can say about Barry’s titular co-composition with Duran Duran, which earned them a Golden Globe nomination. And no, the song is not in fact called “Dance Into the Fire.”

“Born Free” (1966)

Embedded from

I’m betting a lot of you haven’t seen this movie. I’m also betting that most among that number have heard this song, featuring vocals by Matt Munro.

“Midnight Cowboy” (1969)

Embedded from

Warning: If you listen to this, it WILL get stuck in your head. Amazing music, particularly the theme song. So catchy that Faith No More covered it on their excellent album “Angel Dust.”