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John Barry remembered

Peter Stanhope
February 3, 2011

 You may not know the man, but you will almost certainly know his music.

John Barry OBE, a Honorary Freeman of York, is being remembered worldwide following his recent death at 77 yrs.

I feel very fortunate in that I did meet the man, when both of us were quite young, and I have adored his music from so many award winning films.

I came to first know John Barry Prendergast when I used to hang around back-stage at the Rialto cinema in York in the late 1950's during Sunday concerts on the stage. These shows starred some of the biggest names in music at that time, from jazz to skiffle, from big bands to individual singers. Lonnie Donegan, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Chris Barber, Dickie Valentine, Sarah Vaughan and, yes, even the Beatles - all performed on the stage at the Rialto.

Back-stage Barry (as we called him) used to regale the arriving audience with his favourite music played over the PA system from a turntable with LP's behind the stage curtains. His favourites were Stan Kenton - then a major American big-band - as he had studied through a correspondence course with Bill Russo, a trombonist with this band.

I was there taking photographs of all the stars for my own interest and personal collection. As a late teenager I had the run of the whole cinema, by kind permission of Barry's father, Jack Xavier Prendergast who owned it. I met and photographed all those greats and had a wonderful time most Sunday evenings.

At a time in the late 50's Barry decided to start his own rock band - the John Barry Seven - and his father asked me if I would take some photos of them for 'front of house' pictures. So I was the first person to photograph the John Barry Seven before they went on to success and other London photographers.

Over the years, as history tells, the John Barry Seven gave way to John Barry the movie composer after having first been asked to 'rework' Monty Normans original James Bond theme tune. That lead to other film music being scored for a whole series of Bond movies and then many other Hollywood and British block-busters including Born Free, Dances with Wolves, Out of Africa, Chaplin and many more. Wonderful music - almost classical, symphonic in its own way.

At the beginning of the new Millennium I got to meet up with Barry again, here in York. I had nominated him for the Honorary Freedom of the City of York. After doing battle with the City Fathers of the day (they were a lefty bunch back then which did not like 'honours') I eventually got them to bestow the Honorary Freedom of the City on Dr. John Barry OBE at a ceremony held in the Georgian Assembly Rooms. This was in June of 2002 and I and my wife Jean got to meet John again, and his wife Laurie, and had photos taken on that memorable occasion.

It was a great event for a great man and he was clearly humbled by the historic significance of the occasion.

A touch of irony was that the honour was bestowed on him by the Lord Mayor standing on the very same stage that Barry had sat on almost 50 years before as a young trumpeter playing in the dance band which used to play at the Assembly Rooms every Saturday - and that was where I had first asked Jean out to a dance in 1958 !

So the great man is gone but his great music will live on forever. I regard it as being a great honour to have known him, if only briefly, during his lifetime.

If you like John Barrys music I can recommend no better collection than his "Moviola" album which contains many of his most haunting and emotional film themes.

Peter Stanhope

Read 14436 times Last modified on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:18
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PIA website

Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

Contact the JB site

If you wish to send an email, for example with content for the website, please contact Geoff Leonard:

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Bristol, UK

Geoff (owner) and Ruud (webmaster) have been running the John Barry website since June 18, 2001.

This website is not endorsed by the composer's family.
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John Barry related Events or Concerts

Submit your Event or Concert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will not be responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.

A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!



Wiener Konzerthaus
Lothringerstraße 20, 1030 WIEN
(that's Vienna!)

Sonntag 3 Dezember 2017
19:30 Uhr
Großer Saal

Dieses Galakonzert lässt 53 Jahre Bond-Movies live und auf großer Kinoleinwand Revue passieren. Von John Barrys «Goldfinger», «Thunderball» und «Diamonds Are Forever» über «Licence To Kill», «A View To A Kill» und «Goldeneye» bis hin zu «Skyfall» und dem Song des bislang letzten Bond-Streifens, «Writings On The Wall». Spezielle Arrangements für großes Symphonieorchester garantieren neben den Star-Interpreten einen unvergesslichen Abend.

Am 2. und 3. Dezember 2017 werden die legendären Songs und Scores aus den Bond-Movies von den Star-Interpreten Maya Hakvoort, Nazide Aylin und Sandra Pires im Wiener Konzerthaus präsentiert. Dabei werden sie von einem großen Symphonieorchester, ergänzt durch Top-Instrumentalsolisten für den speziellen Bond-Sound, begleitet, während die berühmten Filmszenen auf eine Leinwand projiziert werden. Die Arrangements stammen vom musikalischen Leiter der Galakonzerte, Alex Johansson. Als besonderes Highlight wird Stargast Conchita ihre Lieblings-Bondsongs interpretieren.

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts
Sun 25th Feb 18 (7.30pm)
Victoria Halls, Stoke-On-Trent
with Madeline Smith (Live & Let Die)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/victoriahall

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts
Sun 11th Mar 18
The Woodville, Gravesend
with Madeline Smith (Live & Let Die)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/thewoodville

 Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 25th Mar 18 (6pm)
King's Theatre, Southsea, Portsmouth
with Madeline Smith (Live & Let Die)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/kingstheatre

 Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Wed 4th Apr 18
Southport Theatre
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/southporttheatre

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 8th Apr 18
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/waterside

Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
Live James Bond Concerts

Sun 6th May 18
New Victoria Hall, Woking
with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Details: www.QTheMusicShow.com/newvictoria