John Barry 1933 - 2011

John Barry fact file

Name: John Barry Prendergast

Born: November 3, 1933, in York

Died: January 30, 2011, in New York

Occupation: Composer of 120 film scores and incidental music

School: St Peter’s York; once told his biographers he “loathed life” there

Army days: Served in band of 2nd Battalion, The Green Howards, as National Serviceman in early 1950s

First appearance on stage: Playing third trumpet with The Modernaires, Rialto, 1953

York band: The John Barry Seven, playing regularly at Rialto

James Bond scores: 11 of first 14 Bond films and 12 in all, including From Russia With Love; Goldfinger; You Only Live Twice; Diamonds Are Forever. Appeared on screen in final scene of The Living Daylights as orchestra leader.
David Arnold on his fellow Bond soundtrack composer: “I think James Bond would have been far less cool without John Barry holding his hand.”

First film: Beat Girl, 1959

Further film scores: Zulu; Born Free (Oscar); his personal favourite, The Lion In Winter (Oscar); Midnight Cowboy, 1976 version of King Kong; Out Of Africa, pictured, (Oscar); Dances With Wolves (Oscar); Chaplin; Enigma

Best-known television theme tune: The Persuaders

West End musicals: Billy!, based on Billy Liar; Lolita; Brighton Rock

21st century albums: Orchestral work Eternal Echoes, 2001; overseeing Ten Tenors’ Here’s To The Heroes, 2007

Oscars: Five

Grammy awards: Four

Honours: OBE, 1999; honorary doctorate, University of York, July 2001; Honorary Freeman of York, June 2002; Academy Fellowship at BAFTA awards for lifetime contribution to cinema, 2005

York “tributes”: Pizza Express’s 2008 design for its restaurant in St Sampson’s Square incorporated covers of his albums on the walls. Pavilion Hotel, Fulford Road, has a John Barry room

Wives: Four, including brief union with British actress/singer Jane Birkin

Children: Four

Did you know? Kept pigs at his home in Oyster Bay, Long Island, just as Prendergast family did in Fulford

Did you know too? The last song Louis Armstong committed to vinyl was John Barry’s We Have All The Time In The World, from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.

- Charles Hutchinson

From the archives...

Press call helped John Barry to stardom
Two books profiling Bond composer John Barry were published in 1999. STACEY BREWER recalled at the time how the Evening Press helped him on the road to stardom.

Interview with John Barry
In 2001, John Barry made a rare visit to his home city. Nick Hallissey tried to contain himself while he lined up questions to ask one of his heroes.

Plaque commemorates York's music man
The boyhood home of York's Oscar-winning composer John Barry was recognised by the British Film Institute in 1998.

Cry freedom for York's genius
In 2000, citizens of York campaigned for John Barry to receive the Freedom of the City.