Morpheus on… John Barry

The Catalogue for my five thousand records, tapes and disks has five names that occupy more space than any others. They are – in alphabetical order – Burt Bacharach, John Barry, Kenny Everett, Dudley Moore and Buddy Rich.

These five men have been a big part of my life for nearly fifty years now. Kenny, Dudley and Buddy are no longer with us. Burt was a force of nature in the Sixties, but like many who ruled that decade, he had a bad Seventies – and after a short flurry of activity in the early Eighties, has virtually retired.

But while John Barry too had a lean Seventies, he rose above it and continued to display greatness until yesterday, when at 77, he joined my other three late heroes.

A tough Yorkshireman, his evolution from a Fifties Pop singer, to the World’s foremost composer of film scores was rapid. In those Fifties, he composed and arranged most of the hits his John Barry Seven had – then, via advertising jingles and TV themes, he quickly rose to film music.

And on the way, he created innovations that influenced the entire musical industry.

Style – in spades. I could list his miriad achievements, awards, etc. But if you were not there you can never understand. I’ll just leave you with two examples of his genius…

The first is a tip. Rent, buy or if you possess it, play your own copy of the movie Goldfinger. But as you screen it, forget the dialogue and action – just listen to the score. It is Lesson One for any would-be film composer.

And the second is one of his later works – composed for himself, rather than a movie. It is called “The Beyondness Of Things” – and he created it on the idyllic island, outside New York, where he lived during his later years.

The accompanying video is one I created, on Phi-Phi Island in the Andaman Sea. The visuals are spectacular and beautiful – thus only one man’s music could do them justice.


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