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Who Played Trumpet on the Bond scores 1962-1974?

Thursday, 26 January 2017 14:54
You Only Live twice - John Barry giving notes
You Only Live twice - John Barry giving notes

Volker Rippe kindly drew my attention to a recent correction made to Derek Watkins' Wikipedia profile as concerns his James Bond music career and the corresponding "Talk" to explain or justify the correction.

Whereas I believe the person concerned is correct to say that Derek did not play on the early Bonds (despite his boast of playing on all of them up until Skyfall), the explanation that the same four trumpeters -- Stan Roderick, Tony Fisher, Greg Bowen and Eddie Blair played on all the films from Dr. No to The Man with the Golden Gun -- is just as unlikely.

For a start, there is the photographic evidence from You Only Live Twice in which only Greg Bowen appears. Leon Calvert (a favourite player of Barry’s) and Ray Davies are also present on these sessions. Then there's the claim from several other well-known players that they played on some early Bond sessions.

One of these, Ron Simmons, told me he played on a couple of the early Bonds, and I found his story very convincing. Here it is:

A member of the West Side Story string section was violinist Sid Margo, who booked me one day for a film session. When I got into the studio the first guy I saw was a young trumpet player called John Barry.

My first thought was — what the hell is he doing here? He was a reasonable player, and ran his own small combo, but I couldn't imagine that he was going to sit with us in the trumpet section.

I'd known John Barry Prendergast for a long time. His dad owned a theatre in York which we used to visit quite often. Every time we went up there Jack Parnell called a rehearsal, something that we hated after the long bus ride, and we had to run through some of John's arrangements.

This we did grimly, handing them back afterwards without comment. They were generally lengthy and pretty boring.

Bill Russo told me later on that he vaguely remembered John begging him for a correspondence course in arranging, and sending him lengthy scores from time to time which he corrected and returned.

To my surprise he now mounted the podium and conducted the orchestra. It was music for the very first James Bond film, Dr. No.

There were four trumpets on this first session, as far as I remember: Bobby Pratt, Albert Hall, Freddy Clayton and myself. I was booked by Sid Margo on first trumpet. What neither he, nor John Barry, knew at the time was that poor Bobby Pratt was, by then, well into the alcoholic problems he'd been having for several years. During this period I'd had to dash into the Aeolian Hall, Bond Street studios many times at the last minute to replace him on a broadcast with Ted Heath and eventually joined Ted permanently in his place. He was still being booked on sessions in those days, though, and we were telling him not to play, keep his head down and get the money. We were covering for him all over the place.

On this first John Barry session Bob was already well under the influence, and hardly fit to play. He insisted upon doing so, though, and as a result the trumpets did not sound good. Not long afterwards I heard that another session had been scheduled and that I had not been booked on it. To my query on this Sid Margo told me that the trumpets had not been good enough on the first session, and that after we had all left the studio John had found an empty bottle of whisky under my chair. So he told Sid not to book me any more.

When I told Freddy Clayton and Albert about this they immediately told Sid what had really happened. It may not have been deliberate, but it certainly left a nasty taste at the time. At any rate: Bob was taken off the next session and we made the title music again with someone else, possible Frank Thornton, on fourth trumpet. Every time I see a James Bond film, and hear myself on that title music it brings back the sad memories.

I returned from Munich in the summer of 1963 to play on From Russia with Love or Goldfinger - I forget which one it was, this time with Albert Hall and I believe it was with Ronnie Hughes and Stan Reynolds or Bert Courtley on the other trumpets. You must remember that we were doing three sessions a day then, and working with up to a hundred musicians a time. Hard to remember names.

I have always been very pleased at John's outstanding success in the film scoring business. He has written some outstanding music. I'm afraid we didn't have much time for him when he was a boy, bringing his scores for us to try out in his Dad's theatre. He certainly proved us all wrong. Please give him my regards (and apologies) if you see him.

Bobby Pratt’s widow, Tina, says he also played on Goldfinger, and Bert Ezard, another fine trumpeter, is listed elsewhere as playing on the original James Bond Theme, as are the aforementioned Albert Hall & Ray Davies.

We may never know the names of all the very fine musicians who played on the early Bond scores, but writing on Wiki Talk that Stan Roderick, Tony Fisher, Greg Bowen and Eddie Blair were on all of them as though it is a proven fact, is not very helpful, in my opinion.

Geoff Leonard.

Read 1694 times Last modified on Monday, 13 February 2017 12:58
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John Barry related Events or Concerts

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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!

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)

The Music of BondThe Music of Bond
Royal Albert Hall
Wednesday 19 September 2018
Starts: 7:30pm


Presented by Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace). Over fifty years of timeless James Bond themes from all your favourite 007 films.

Hits from Goldfinger, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Spectre, From Russia with Love to name just a few, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Gareth Hudson Conductor
Alison Jiear Vocalist
Matthew Ford Vocalist

James Bond fans are in for a treat in January 2019, as renowned Band, the popular Q The Music Show, are putting on a special concert - performing all the music from Moonraker on

26th January 2019

at the

Wycombe Swan Concert Hall,
High Wycombe,
United Kingdom.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

They are drafting in professional musicians from London to create a 100-piece Orchestra and Choir to recreate all of John Barry’s iconic cues from the 1979 film. As there is only around 50 minutes of music in the film, they will perform the best of the James Bond songs in the second half in true Q The Music style, but with full orchestra.

Because of the nature of this concert, and the huge costs involved, they are crowd funding it, so tickets have to be purchased by 6th May this year for the concert to go ahead on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Q The Music Show are popular with James Bond fans all around the World thanks to their dedicated and authentic versions of the music and were chosen to perform at Sir Roger Moore’s Memorial Event at Pinewood Studios in October last year. The concert will be compered by Bond girls Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro, who have been working with Q The Music this year on their theatre tour of the UK.

The concert will not be available to buy on recording after the show, and the Moonraker score has never been performed live, so this is a unique opportunity for fans to see it. If the project is a success, Q The Music plan to go on a do a different Barry/Bond score each year.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

*Please note, this is a music only performance – no images or footage from the film will be shown, and Q The Music are not associated with EON, Danjaq LLC, or the James Bond Films in any way.

Warren Ringham
Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
The London Showband - Party & Covers Band