Wed, Mar 29, 2017
Log in Register

Login to your account

Password *

Create an account

Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.
Password *
Verify password *
Email *
Verify email *
Captcha *


The John Barry interview - 1994


Geoff Leonard

For John Barry, the 3rd November of 1994 proved to be much more than just another birthday for him. On that day, much to his obvious delight, his wife Laurie gave birth to a baby - Jonpatrick - their first child, and Barry's first son (he already has three grown-up daughters). Barry shows no sign of slowing down his heavy schedule and when we spoke in December, he was enthusiastically starting work on a project which involves 'Imax', a recently developed film technique, which uses 3-D and seventy-foot high screens. However, we began our conversation by talking about his latest film score, 'The Specialist', before turning to other recently completed and forthcoming projects.

John, The Specialist is quite different from the projects you've tackled recently, what particularly interested you about the film?

Well, Stallone usually concentrates on action type films. This film wasn't that, it was more of a movie film-noire style, and it was that which attracted me to it. Another thing I particularly liked was the fact that the Stallone character and the Sharon Stone character don't meet until about a third of the way through the movie. The fact that he stalks her, they have telephone contact, and he starts to fall in love with her just through this type of contact, I found really interesting. So the music has a major part to play, I felt, in getting that relationship going, because as they weren't actually physically together from the start, it helped set the mood between the two of them. I thought that was something I'd never had to do before in a movie.

The CD album is almost an hour long, does this reflect the fact there is plenty of music in the film?

Yes, there is a lot of music in the movie. I suppose there are only two really big action sequences, one at the beginning and one at the end, but what also interested me was that there wasn't the usual kind of car chase thing with lots of noise. The excitement in the movie was the build-up to the explosion each time. So although the audience know what's going to happen, I use a lot of red-herring cues, you build each time and then as the explosion happens the noise cuts off. So it wasn't a typical action film. You know, I get offered a lot of action scripts, and having done most of the Bond films, I really want to do something a little different. I also thought it would be good to do a big-audience picture, which it has proved to be. So, although I admit it's a very popular genre, it allowed me to do something different from the usual action score.

Who first approached you to do it, and did you then follow the usual pattern of reading the script and seeing the film, or some footage?

The producer, Jerry Weintraub, initially approached me and then I had a meeting with Luis Llosa, the director. The film was made completely on location in Miami, and although I don't normally go to locations, I wanted to see some footage and on this occasion they had everything based in the Fontainbleau Hotel there - all the cutting and editing rooms were actually in the Hotel. (Note: the pool scenes at the beginning of 'Goldfinger' were shot at this hotel.) So I went down there for a couple of days, saw them shooting some stuff, saw a lot of footage, and then came back here to await the fine cut.

How long did it take to write and record the score?

I got the main thematic material way ahead, in fact, when I knew I was going to be doing it. Then I recorded those two tracks in July in London, with the Royal Philharmonic, when I was doing my Moviola 2 album, for inclusion on the song album they've put out, which features Gloria Estefan with Emilio producing. I did those tracks at an early stage because if I'd waited until I scored the movie I knew I wouldn't have time to include them on the song-score album. Then we recorded all the music in Los Angeles in September, and I used an eighty-piece orchestra.

I notice you've used Ronnie Lang (alto-sax) and Michael Lang (piano) for solos on the album, both of whom have played for you before. Do you like to request individual musicians in this way?

Yes, and I consider they are both extraordinary musicians. Ronnie, of course, used to play for the Harry James band, and so he comes from that big-band era. His playing still has that wonderful edge, and he understands exactly what to do. When you talk to him it's like a director talking to an actor, make it lighter or heavier, or whatever - he just drops straight in there. Michael Lang is a wonderfully inventive pianist.

Would you do the same thing when you're recording in the UK, in asking for certain players, or do you leave it all to the judgement of the fixer?

Well in London I have a marvellous alto-sax player, David White, whom we used on the first Moviola album. He played solos on Body Heat and The Cotton Club and is a really wonderful musician.

I'm looking forward to seeing the film; certainly the score suggests a mood similar to some moments in Body Heat and Hammett, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Yes, I love that kind of genre, and the director, Luis Llosa, really captured the feel of it. The lighting, too, is very special. Luis is Peruvian, incidentally, and this is only the second film he's made in America - Sniper was the first.

The film didn't get brilliant reviews in America but still did well at the box-office. I imagine they must have great hopes for it when it opens in Britain.

It did huge business in America. I believe worldwide so far it's done 120 million dollars, which can't be bad! I think Warners knew it was the kind of film that wouldn't necessarily get good reviews. They didn't show it to the press beforehand, which always gets a back-lash, but instead they ran a big TV campaign just two weeks before it opened, with saturation coverage, and it achieved the biggest October opening, taking around 14 million dollars during the first weekend.

Returning to the album, the CD seems to run almost without noticeable gaps between tracks, giving the effect of a suite - was this a deliberate policy?

Right, I like doing that. I did that with my engineer, Shawn Murphy, and if you remember we achieved a similar effect on my Dances With Wolves album. I love making it fit together in that way, almost as one piece.

Now, you mentioned Moviola Two - can you tell me anything about that project?

Yes, I believe the album will be out in April, I'm in the process of getting the artwork together as we speak. All the music was recorded at George Martin's Air studio in Hampstead, London during July. There is a Bond suite that includes Goldfinger, The James Bond Theme, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, 007, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, All Time High (Octopussy). Themes from Until September, King Kong, Zulu. Then we have an action suite from Dances With Wolves - Pawnee Attack, Kicking Bird's Gift, Journey To Fort Sedgewick, Two Socks - The Wolf Theme, Farewell and Finale (parts one and 2). Finally the two tracks from The Specialist we talked about earlier. I'm very excited about it, I think it makes a wonderful album.

Turning to your musical, Billy, I saw a piece in a local paper recently which quoted Jason Donovan as saying he was thinking over an offer to star in the title role. Is there anything in this?

Absolutely, we're definitely doing it again this year with Jason playing Billy. I believe we go into rehearsals in May and open in Manchester in early July, before hopefully moving into the West End.

That's excellent news, as it was a major disappointment a few years ago when a revival was cancelled at the last moment due to problems with the production company. Are you confident of no hitches on this occasion?

Yes, we've some excellent people involved this time, and I'm particularly pleased that Patrick Garland will be back directing.

I saw the show for the first time a few weeks ago in Bristol, through a performance by the junior section of the Bristol Amateur Operatic Society.

Oh really, what was it like?

Well, bearing in mind it was an amateur production, I thought they put a lot of hard work and energy into it. I heard and enjoyed the two new songs you wrote with Don Black, and was very impressed with the lad who played Billy. I hadn't realised quite what a demanding part it is.

Oh yes, he's on the go constantly - virtually on stage throughout - which is why it's been so difficult to cast.

Now, in the new year we shall see CD reissues of King Rat, The Wrong Box, The Lion in Winter, and a gold edition of Dances with Wolves. I once heard Jerry Goldsmith talking at a film music seminar when he said he didn't care for all these reissues, as he considered there was already far too much of his music available on CD. What is your reaction to these reissues?

No, I don't really go along with that. In fact, Dances with Wolves is going to be a very special kind of package, and I quite like these old scores coming out - they're being put together in an excellent fashion. There are one or two of my very old scores I could well do without being reissued (laughs).

Do you mean as with Four in the Morning?

Yes, exactly. That was a very sparse score. I mean, it worked perfectly for the movie, but it's not a piece you want to listen to away from the movie. It was a very dark picture with a very limited budget, like an oboe and four cellos or something - I don't really think the score is for record consumption. But I love my score for The Wrong Box and for King Rat which was my very first Hollywood score - Bryan Forbes took me over there for that one.

I'm sure you remember a film you scored early in the sixties - The Party's Over - directed by Guy Hamilton. EMI apparently have a recording of the theme which they might release on a third volume of their EMI Years series. Was this simply your arrangement of the standard song?

Well let me say straight away that The Party's Over was a very low budget black and white film. They said they were going to buy the rights to the song to be able to include it in the film, and I told them they wouldn't be able to afford it - the cost would exceed their total budget for the film. Which proved to be the case. So I wrote a song called 'Time Waits For No Man' for Annie Ross, but there was nothing called 'The Party's Over', so I don't know what this theme is they have.

I noticed 'Unchained Melody' is also listed.

Well, I didn't do that. In fact, there were one or two things on that second volume they did that I don't recall. I mean you always remember things like that. You might have forgotten you did it but as soon as you hear the first few notes you think, "Christ, yes I did do that!" When I look back, there was an amazing amount of stuff recorded in a very short period of time. It was as though we were in Abbey Road every week!

John, as you know the Louis Armstrong recording of 'We Have All The Time In The World' has recently been a huge hit in Britain having reached number 3 in the singles charts - you've told the story before about how it was originally only successful in Italy. Wasn't it a drunken DJ who played it all night?

I don't know whether he was drunk! Did I say he was drunk? No, it was this one guy in Rome who liked it and played it and as a result we had a number one hit for months. When On Her Majesty's Secret Service opened it was the only place in the world where we had any success with the song.

I suppose the song was rather hidden away in the film.

Yes, but also O.H.M.S.S. was the first of the Bond films not to make any real money.

I thought it was a fine film and maybe if Sean Connery had played Bond it could have been different.

Yes, I don't think George Lazenby ever really connected with the part. On the other hand, I thought the film had some of the best action sequences in the series, with excellent direction from Peter Hunt.

Now you wrote the song with Hal David, after previously working mainly with Leslie Bricusse orDon Black - how did this collaboration come about?

Well, I can't recall the circumstances exactly, but Hal was in London at the time which is how we met, and at that stage we already knew we weren't going to have a song called 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' - I mean, what can you do with a title like that! But, there was a line in the script, almost the last line - "We have all the time in the world", as his wife gets killed, which was also in Fleming's original novel, and I liked that as a title very much. Now I'd always liked Walter Huston singing 'September Song' in the film 'September Affair', where as an older character he sang about his life in a kind of reflective vein. So, I suggested to Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman that Louis Armstrong would be ideal to sing our song in this fashion.

So he was your suggestion?

Yes, and it was quite frightening really, because until then we'd gone for current pop stars of the day like Tom Jones and Nancy Sinatra. So this was quite a departure. Anyway, they both loved the idea, so we called his agent and Louis was still in hospital actually at that stage - he'd been there for about a year. But he said he'd love to do it. He came out of hospital and sadly it was the last song he ever recorded. We did it in New York, at the old A & R Studios, which have since been pulled down. The engineer on that session was Phil Ramone, who produces all the Sinatra sessions and all those wonderful Billy Joel songs. Although we recorded the song in New York, the rest of the score was done as usual at CTS in London.

Do you mind that the song has become a hit now in Britain probably only because of the success of the Guinness advert?

Absolutely not. I think Guinness is a hell of a drink! It's ironic in a way that somebody's selling ale and you get a hit out of it. But that's the way of the world. Actually, Hal David came to tea on Sunday and we discussed another song we wrote. You might remember Monte Walsh, my very first Western that starred Lee Marvin and Jack Palance. I thought it was a very interesting movie but it wasn't particularly successful. Anyway, we wrote a song for the movie called 'The Good Times Are Coming' which was sung by Mama Cass. I said to Hal that I didn't think I had a tape of it anywhere, but I'd love to get it released again, because I loved that song. It turned out to be one of Hal's favourites too, so we're going to see what we can do.

You decided not to do the Nicholas Cage film, It Could Happen To You, after problems with the producer. I saw the soundtrack recently which is now full of pop songs, and this also happened with The Bodyguard - a film that you also once considered scoring. Would you say producers are interfering more these days, and is this why you've left the occasional project?

Well that wasn't the reason I didn't do those films, it was something else. No, funnily enough, Emilio Estefan wrote many songs for The Specialist before I got involved and I think initially they thought it was going to be more of a song score. But you could tell from reading the script that it wouldn't work, because it was so specific in its action and its detail and its momentum that your instincts tell you that songs are not going to carry those moments. So I think some songs got rather short shrift in the movie - which I'm sad about, but it's one of those things - you can't have it all ways all of the time.

What about future projects, John, you've mentioned Billy, but is anything else on the horizon? Travels With Charlie, for example.

Yes, we've got a script going on that at the moment. I'm doing it with 'Tig Productions', which is Kevin Costner's company, and I'm co-producing with Jim Wilson. We're in the process of presenting it to various Television networks - it's always been designed for television. It'll probably be done in three two-hour segments, we've got a very good screenplay and I'm optimistic we can do a deal with one of the networks.

Something else we've just done, concerns Somewhere in time. I've always wanted someone to come up with a lyric for my main melody for that film, and although several people have tried, I've never been really happy with any of them. Now, B. A. Robertson has written a wonderful, wonderful lyric and Michael Crawford is opening in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a new show that starts on New Year's Eve and will feature it. He's also recorded it just last weekend with some other songs for a new album for Atlantic.

Many people would be delighted if you scored Goldeneye, the new Bond film - is there a chance of this?

I really don't know at this stage. We'll have to see. It's much too early to say.

So you haven't turned it down?

Well you know what they say - you never say never!

Does this also apply to concerts?

As far as concerts are concerned, we've been talking to the management of the Royal Philharmonic because having done the two albums they're familiar with the music and it would reduce the time needed for rehearsals. Because when you're going into a concert with an orchestra, the rehearsal time allocated is normally so short. I remember doing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and I literally had a three-hour rehearsal. And you can't do any more than a read through really, you can't get into any kind of fine tuning - I was a total nervous wreck before I went on. So unless you can have a finely-rehearsed orchestra, then I really don't want to know about it. But if something can be worked out with the Royal Philharmonic, either here in America or in England, I would be glad to do it, maybe a series of three or four concerts in London, Birmingham, Glasgow etc., I would like to do that - if we can bring our schedules together.

So as far as you're concerned, rehearsal time is critical?

Absolutely. But as I say, they know all the music, they've rehearsed and recorded it, so it would mean that if I could have one day's rehearsal with them, just to bring them up to scratch, it would be fine.

John, it's been an excellent year for you, we're looking forward to seeing The Specialist and to hearing Moviola 2 when it's released. Thanks very much for your time.

Thank you Geoff.

Read 4438 times Last modified on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 09:29
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Anti-spam: complete the taskJoomla CAPTCHA

Latest Releases

  • indecent proposal intrada s
  • the dove s
  • peggy sue got married s
  • betsy s
  • mister moses t
  • THE DEEP SJ pack
  • early years 210
  • dances with wolves la la land s
  • rtt t

  • real john barry t
  • the last valley 2016
  • Improved sound quality.


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:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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.
Use of copyrighted materials and logos are for promotional purposes only.

All files on this website are for personal use only and cannot be bought or sold.


big screen hits s

Plays 007 s

Some albums

Golfinger French s

Best Of Bond s

Bond US 10th Anniversary s

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.

 The Music of Bond RPO 11 April 2017

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra presents
The Music of Bond
Tuesday 11 April 2017
Doors: 6:45pm
Starts: 7:30pm


The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall to perform The Music of Bond, following its sensational sell-out performance in October 2015.

Presented by A View to a Kill’s ‘Bond girl’ Fiona Fullerton, we celebrate over fifty years of timeless James Bond theme songs with hits from Goldfinger, Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Spectre and many more, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Simon Bowman.

Gareth Hudson conductor
Alison Jiear vocalist
Simon Bowman vocalist
Fiona Fullerton presenter

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Sheffield City Hall
Irwin Mitchell Oval Hall
James Bond: The Music of 007

from £22.50

Booking Fees May Apply
Friday, 30 Jun 2017
Start Time: 19:30
Doors Open: 19:00


The music that capture a world of pulse-pumping action, glamorous femmes fatales, villainous arch enemies and, of course, unforgettable tunes. With roaring brass, lush orchestrations and sensuous songs, these movies have produced hit after hit all over the world. The list of credits includes the thrumming James Bond theme itself, 'Diamonds are Forever', 'Moonraker', 'Thunderball', 'From Russia with Love', 'Goldfinger', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'Skyfall' and many more.

Smooth as a vodka martini, elegant as a tuxedo and cool as a cucumber sandwich, Stephen Bell, the Hallé's suave, sophisticated maestro leads the world-renowned Hallé Orchestra as they celebrate the ultimate British hero – James Bond. Immerse yourself in the spine-tingling sounds that gave musical voice to the films in catchy title sequences and haunting songs performed here by star vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

An evening packed with some of cinema's most iconic themes, come dressed as your favourite Bond character, knock back a Vodka Martini and be prepared to be shaken and stirred!

Tickets for The Music of James Bond with The Hallé' (subject to booking fees) at Sheffield City Hall are available online at through the ticket hotline on 0114 2 789 789 and in person at the Sheffield City Hall Box Office.

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!

31 Mar 2017

   Germany   Nürnberg A Night with James Bond (Jagd auf James Bond)

31 Mar 2017

 31 Mar 2017  USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond
01 Apr 2017  USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond

01 Apr 2017

   Germany   Stuttgart A Night with James Bond (Jagd auf James Bond)

02 Apr 2017

   USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond

 02 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   Leeds

Shaken & Stirred: The Music of James Bond

Shaken & Stirred: The Music of James Bond

02 April 2017

Tickets: £30, £27, £24, £19, £14, £10 (discounts available).


Featuring Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Skyfall.

Leeds Town Hall

Concert begins at 4pm

Orchestra of Opera North
Gareth Hudson - conductor
Mary Carewe - voice
Simon Bowman - voice

The ultimate Bond concert with excerpts from all 24 films from Dr No to Spectre. With classic songs made famous by great artists such as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Matt Monro, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Adele, Sam Smith and more, this evening is dedicated to the world’s most famous spy.

Led by Gareth Hudson and joined by two of the leading vocal artists of the Bond repertoire, Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman, from the moment the Orchestra of Opera North strike up the iconic James Bond Theme you will realise that Nobody does it better as you’re immersed in an evening of classic Bond music which will leave you shaken AND stirred. 

Channel your inner spy or become a Bond-girl for the evening as we encourage bookers to dress to impress.

Norman/Raine - James Bond theme
Barry/Raine - Thunderball
Barry/Raine - Goldfinger
Barry/Raine - You only live twice
Barry/Raine - From Russia With Love: Title Song
Barry/Raine - Moonraker
Barry/Raine - Diamonds Are Forever
David & Bacharach/Raine - Casino Royale
Hamlisch/Raine - The Spy Who Loved Me: Nobody Does It Better
Barry/Raine - The Man With The Golden Gun: Title Song
Barry/Raine - On Her Majesty's Secret Service: We Have All The Time In The World
Barry/Raine - Suite: A View to a Kill
Walden & Cohen/Raine Licence to Kill: Title Song


Barry/Raine - A View to a Kill
Conti/Raine - For Your Eyes Only
Barry/Raine - Octopussy: All Time High
Barry & Waaktaar/Raine - The Living Daylights: Title Song
Bono & The Edge/Raine - Goldeneye
Arnold & Black/Raine - Tomorrow Never Dies: Surrender
Arnold - Die Another Day: Welcome to Cuba
Arnold & Black/Raine -The World Is Not Enough: Title Song
Cornell & Arnold/Raine Casino Royale: You Know My Name
White/Raine Quantum Of Solace: Another Way To Die
McCartney/Raine - Live And Let Die: Title Song
Atkins & Epworth/Raine - Skyfall
Smith/Raine - Spectre: Writing’s on the Wall

 08 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   Belfast Goldfinger! The Best of James Bond

08 April 2017
(United Kingdom)         
Goldfinger! The Best of James Bond
Ulster Orchestra conducted by Stephen Bell - Ulster Hall


Program Info:
An explosive evening of the very best themes from the James Bond series. Stephen Bell will be the man with the golden baton, leading the Ulster Orchestra through classics from across the decades, from early films such as Goldfinger, right through to the present day and hits such as the Oscar-winning theme to Skyfall. Favourites such as Live and Let Die, Diamonds are Forever and Licence to Kill will leave you shaken and stirred at this fabulous concert!

External links:
Details & tickets

 11 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   London The Music of Bond

13 Apr 2017

13 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007
14 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007
15 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007

  30 Jun 2017

   United Kingdom   Sheffield James Bond: The Music of 007


James Bond Spectacular
August 18, 2017
Time: 19:30

The Harlington Theatre
236 Fleet Road
GU51 4BY


Back by popular demand, popular Q The Music Show is coming back to The Harlington, Fleet bringing their fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success at other theatres with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians, dancers, and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show as everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come.

Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.

Don’t miss this superb evening as…Nobody Does It Better!


James Bond Spectacular
August 20, 2017
Time: 19:30

Buxton Opera House,
Water Street
Derbyshire SK17 6XN


The popular Q The Music Show brings its James Bond Concert Spectacular to Buxton Opera House. The 13-piece band will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success all around the world with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show as everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come.

Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.

19 Nov 2017

   Canada   Thunder Bay Shaken Not Stirred – The Music of James Bond


James Bond Spectacular
December 1, 2017
Time: 19:30

Camberley Theatre,
Knoll Road,
Surrey, GU15 3SY,


The popular James Bond Concert Spectacular by Q The Music Show is coming to Camberley Theatre. They will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert.  This show has been a huge success all around the World with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.
Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies...