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albums08

Dude Barry was a lady-killer

by Andrew Billen
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 21 April 1999

For some, getting an interview with John Barry would be like being granted an audience with God. When last year he conducted a sell-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Caitlin Moran, a young journalist from The Times, described the three standing ovations he received as looking, from where she sat, "like praying". Be sure to spot Jonathan Ross among the disciples for Barry's return to the RAH this Friday and Saturday. In his sleeve notes for Themeology, The Best of John Barry, he wrote: "The man's a god!"

John Barry is not God - and his record with women would suggest he is not even a saint - but he is Britain's greatest film music composer. He has scored a record 10 Bond movies and won five Oscars, the last, for Dances with Wolves in 1990, coming 25 years after his first, for Born Free. A further discography is almost superfluous. Two biographies have recently been published, one by the music journalist Eddi Fiegel, who discovered him in her teenage in the mid-Eighties after being poleaxed by his Persuaders and Goldfinger themes. Jarvis Cocker, Iggy Pop, Portishead, Paul Hartnoll of Orbital and Chrissie Hynde are all believers. (Pulp, Hynde and Iggy contributed to a tribute album last year). The classical music world is being converted. Classic FM has named him one of the 10 composers of the new millennium - which sounds a bit much until you get into last year's The Beyondness of Things, the soundtrack, as it were, of the unmade biopic of Barry's life, and ask yourself if it is more or less moving, richer or less rich, than Gorecki or Taverner.

Despite all this, my own image of Barry is not of a Messiah - not even of a composer of a Messiah. It is a confusion of James Bond and one of his loucher enemies, of Roger Moore in The Persuaders and Gene Barry in Burke's Law (although I accept this last association may be nominal confusion). And I am not lightly going to discard these preconceptions. Barry was a Sixties jet-setter, he did share a bachelor pad with Michael Caine, he was married to Jane Birkin and he is a multi-millionaire with places in Chelsea and Oyster Bay, Upstate New York.

We meet in the bar of what was once the Hyde Park Hotel where I am reassured to see he orders a rum and Coke. In no other respect, however, is he the sleazy-slick lounge lizard of my fantasy. Thin, white-haired, dressed in a collarless shirt and a tweed jacket, he looks almost ascetic. Only his deep voice is opulent: silky Yorkshire but guest-starring the odd Americanism, such as "gotten" for "got".

John Barry - his original surname, Prendergast, already jettisoned - arrived in Soho from Yorkshire in 1958, leader of his own rock and roll band. The John Barry Seven collaborated with Adam Faith on his first hit, What Do You Want, and in 1959 Barry got to write the score for Faith's movie Beat Girl. A few films later, he arranged Monty Norman's James Bond theme for Dr No and did so so successfully that he became a Bond fixture. The route from Faith to Connery plots the course of Britain from The Six-Five Special to the full horror of Swinging London. And he was just the epitome of that, wasn't he?

"God," he says, "I didn't think so at the time. We didn't even know it was the Sixties. I mean, Mike Caine and I can reflect on it now but at the time ... I suppose we knew something was happening, pre-Beatles: the movie industry was happening; the music industry was happening."

Barry was happening. He had married Barbara Pickard, an electrical store worker from Scarborough, in 1960. She bore him a daughter, Susie. In a sneak preview of social mores to come, he left her for the Swedish au pair. Ulla gave him a second daughter, Sian, and returned to her homeland. Fortunately, Barry's little black book contained numbers for Shirley Bassey, Britt Ekland and Charlotte Rampling. "Barry was a big ladies' man," Caine said, pot to kettle. By now, surely, Barry must have noticed things had changed a bit from the wartime York of his childhood?

"Oh, that was for sure. There was just a kind of new-found freedom. We were all earning. We were the new crew with money. We all had our independence. We were shopping at Turnbull and Asser. We had the sports cars."

And the E-type wife, I say, quoting Newsweek, which reported that after marrying Birkin in 1965, he "drove off in his E-type jag with his E-type wife". She was 17, young enough to climb on to the bonnet of the jag and mouth "I love you" through the windows. He was 31, old enough to know better. "I don't think Jane Birkin would like to be called an E-type wife," is his reply.

A third daughter - Kate - a second divorce. Nights with Ingrid Boulting, the "Biba girl". In 1969 he wed Jane Sidey. Fiegel calls the marriage short-lived (1), even by his standards, presumably. Did he mean his vows? "Of course. I came from a family where marriages lasted for ever. I've a brother and sister who are happily married, aunts and uncles, grandpas and grandmas going right back on both sides with a whole history of complete marital fidelity and longevity. But I went to a convent school and then to St Peter's, the oldest school in England and probably the strictest, and then I worked for my father for three years, which was strong discipline, then three years in the Army. I'd had all the discipline I needed in my life. By the time I came out of the Army and formed a group, I guess you could say I went happily mad ... I think it reads a lot worse than it was."

In 1978 he married his fourth wife, Laurie, 24 years his junior. Yet this marriage endured and four years ago they had a son together. He calls her the "glue" of the deal, "very strong and a fantastic mother".

But we have jumped forward, and I mean to loiter in his impossibly hectic heyday. "I remember," he says, "going to a restaurant in LA in the Seventies with Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement [writers of The Likely Lads] and we were talking about those times and Ian said, 'I can't think how the hell we did all the work we did.' I said, 'I know! One year I did eight movies and I still had a good time. I think it's called youth.'"

And self-discipline. Barry emphasises the rigour of his childhood at his two Catholic schools, the first run by nuns so sadistic that when the Luftwaffe bombed them he was thrilled. When I ask if he ever spoke to his parents about his unhappiness he laughs and says you didn't do that to parents in York in the Thirties and Forties. Jack Xavier Prendergast was a handshaking rather than a hugging father, but John noted his devotion to the cinema chain he owned and to his family, with whom he preferred to share his spare time. Later, during National Service, Barry too chose to work rather than socialise. In a storehouse in Cyprus, he taught himself to compose by correspondence course. Barry's libido ran loose in the Sixties but his work ethic was too well-trained to abscond with it. He would get up at eight and work till one, walk to the King's Road, take a long lunch, perhaps a siesta, and get back in front of the piano before the evening parties started. And it was drink rather than drugs? "Absolutely. Italian restaurants, Italian wine. It wasn't even as boozy as people pretend. We weren't hitting the whisky bottles."

It helped that he was quick. He wrote Born Free in 12 minutes and Midnight Cowboy in 20. Sometimes it took longer. In Caine's autobiography, he recalls being kept awake, off and on, till dawn one night. He found Barry slumped over the piano having just finished Goldfinger.

With the self-discipline came the self-confidence to endure criticism. Harry Saltzman, the Bond producer, hated the Goldfinger theme and much of the rest of what he came up with: "Harry would start with, 'This is crap!' And it went downhill from there." The knocks toughened him - although Caine, who met him on Zulu, says he was tough anyway. By Prince of Tides in 1991, when Barbra Streisand phoned to say she had been listening to his theme again and "was hearing something else", Barry could tell her this was one of the most joyless professional experiences of his life and quit.

His will is clearly flint but it is applied to a world he knows is just as hard. The innocence of his childhood ended, he says, with the bombing of his school and the news that his elder brother's best friend had been shot down over Germany. The puzzle is how this wartime Yorkshire dourness becomes transformed into the romantic melancholy of his work. The archetypal Barry melody is not a bumptious James Bond theme but The Ipcress File music played on a Hungarian dulcimer and interrupted by Harry Palmer's bachelor coffee grinder. The tune is called The Man Alone and it finally leads to that great tone poem to aloneness, The Beyondness of Things.

"I guess I'm attracted to those things," he says. "Somewhere in Time is about the sense of loss. Out of Africa was most certainly about loss. Dances with Wolves was."

And Born Free? "Well, that was really a parody." Otherwise it's sad music? "It comes out that way. Music comes out of the man. I don't know how you can separate yourself."

In America in 1988 Barry underwent surgery for a ruptured oesophagus. "I was given the last rites. When I came round after the first operation, there was this priest hovering over me. It was like a 13-hour operation, and then I had three more operations over a period of 18 months."

I ask if his slow recovery, which was followed by a renaissance in his career with the Oscar for Dances With Wolves and then the renewal of having a baby son, had brought him back to God. "I don't think I ever went away," he says. "I mean, once you are born a Catholic and you go to a convent, you don't. There was a time in my late teens prior to going in the Army, but once I went to Egypt, when the trouble [over Suez] started there, and then in Cyprus I came back."

At first this surprises me, for no traces of Catholic guilt attach to his regular visits to the register office. Then, however, I remember that his choice of book on Desert Island Discs was The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis; and this was in 1967. Barry has a new album out this week, a jazz score inspired by Chet Baker called Playing by Heart (Decca), the soundtrack to a movie of the same name. His next project, however, is inspired by a book on Celtic wisdom, Anam Cara, by Father John O'Donoghue.

So does he still go to church? "On my own. Not when services are on. In my own time, to Brompton Oratory or Farm Street. I get great solace in it. I maybe go three times a week, for half an hour. My son was christened at Farm Street and he's called Jonpatrick. It is just something I can't imagine being without. You say, 'Why do you go?' I can't imagine not going, especially after the illness ..."

It hits me that the link between the stubborn Yorkshire playboy and his yearning music must be the same Church that dominated, terrified but subliminally inspired his youth. One Sunday, he tells me, he got up early and heard the Pope's official photographer interviewed on television. "And the interviewer says, 'What's his Holiness's favourite piece of music?' And I'm expecting him to say Beethoven's Ninth or something and he says, 'The soundtrack from Dances with Wolves.' I just went crazy."

A spiritual discussion is not what I had prepared for when I knotted my flashiest tie to meet John Barry this morning. Getting his photograph taken, however, the world races back into focus. Did we catch that TV drama the other night? The theme? A straight steal from The Beyondness of Things. "I'm going to sue the bastards," he says. Exit á Kempis. Enter, to a bass line of wah-woahs, Goldfinger.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 21 April 1999

June, 2011: We have been contacted by John's third wife, Jane Sidey, who has informed us that contrary to the reference to a "short-lived marriage" in Andrew Billen's 1999 article "Dude Barry was a lady-killer", the couple were actually married from 1969 to 1978, making it his second-longest marriage. We are happy to put the record straight.

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News

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:

Email
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Location
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.

 

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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.


 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

Website

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

Website

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 www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk 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!

http://www.moviesinconcert.nl/index.php?page=concertlist


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).

Website

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

Interval

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

Website

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
Fleet
Hants
GU51 4BY

Website

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
Buxton
Derbyshire SK17 6XN

Website

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,
Camberley,
Surrey, GU15 3SY,
GB

Website

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...