February 12, 2010
Tribute video below from the Music Industry Trusts Award given to John Barry in 1999:
I set off from deepest darkest Northumberland at 9am on the Friday intending to drop my wife and daughter off near Haywards Heath in Sussex before catching a train up from Gatwick to Victoria and then onto my Hotel in Maida Vale to change for the gig. I was going to fly out to Brussels from Gatwick the next day and needed to drive to Swansea as soon as I got back. (Hence the need to drive).
I got to the M25 at 2pm full of the joys of autumn having subjected my family to my six stack CD player. At 5pm we were still on the M25 at a standstill and my demeanour having changed somewhat so I started to rearrange my plans. The bit where I went to my hotel was out etc etc. Bear in mind the event was due to start at 7pm and dinner was at 8pm.I decided to get off the M25 and try the B roads, which resulted in my standing at Haywards Heath station at 6.20pm waiting for a London train which should get me into Victoria for 7.22pm.Bear in mind that it had been pouring with rain for 3 hours and I was dressed in jeans and a baggy Record company freebie jacket clutching my suit and overnight bag.
This train which arrived late decided to stop at 3 more stations than normal and got me into Victoria at 7.38pm. Anyone who has ever arrived at Victoria station will know that the distance from the platform to the Taxi rank is long enough to be a separate train journey itself. Thank goodness I jog because I tried to beat the 1500 metres world record only to find it still raining and the Queue right round the block. (If had stood there I would probably still be in it now). So I ran into the London traffic and starting in the general direction of Mayfair. With a bit of luck I managed to hail a cab who on being told I would double his fare if he beat the world land speed record, set off like the clappers. I am still in very wet jeans and jacket and wondering how I am going to change.
I get to The Grosvenor House hotel at 7.50pm belt into the cloakroom past a 1000 guests do a Superman impression in a cubicle and at 7.58 pm open the door of the toilet still a state of dishevelment to be greeted by the sight of John Barry waiting to go in........What a start!
Having just scrambled out of a toilet cubicle only to be greeted by the man himself was such a shock that we both nodded and passed. British reserve prevents me from accosting my hero in the cloakroom and besides a colleague had offered to introduce me later. So here we are in the Great Room surrounded by celebs. There is Alan Freeman (not 'arf) talking with the host for the evening Paul Gambaccini and just to one side is Michael Parkinson (he will hand over the award to John later in the evening with a small speech praising Barry). With announcements of "Will you please take your seats" I start to try and find out where my table is and am immediately accosted by a lady selling raffle tickets and by this stage I am so elated that I take out a pound coin, say I will have some and ask 'how much?'.. only to be told that they are £10 each. So I bought two. I must have been in a good mood. The raffle prizes included a limited edition movie poster signed by Barry, a days fishing in some river in Hampshire, a mini disc player, a shopping trip to New York, the autographed and framed original score for TWINE donated by Mr Arnold etc etc.
When I got to the table there laid in front of everyone was a limited edition CD and a very nicely produced programme (if you want the track listing I will do that another day). The meal consisted of baked Italian vegetables and mozzarella on a warm walnut crostini, served with asparagus tips. This was followed by fillet of cod sitting on an herb crust tapenade and nutmeg mash. And the trio of desserts to end.
Adam Faith helped himself to my bottle of wine (ok it was just a glass but hell I paid for it - £34 a bottle...Good grief!! this is getting expensive) and then David Arnold got up and spoke before playing a special edition 007 guitar (only one in the world which will be auctioned at Christies) along with four or five other musicians as backing to David McAlmont singing 'We have all the time in the world' .
Then the great Gambo gets up to do his bit about Barry and while I am sitting there I get this feeling of 'I have heard all this before'. Of course I had...sometime ago I had been asked to pen my thoughts about Barry (Not facts but descriptive stuff about his music etc) and had forgotten about it. They then ran an amazing Video which included a piece of Barry singing in the show Six -Five Special. This brought the house down with laughter and caused Bryan Forbes later to suggest that Barry never sing again.
I am sure you have read all about Roger Moore and Alice Cooper’s tributes and Don Black did a Video spot even though he was sitting opposite Barry. His was a Stateside story about the great man and Gambo did his own version of the JB7 by coming up with seven great Quotes attributed to John including what he said to Barbara Streisand when she said that he should move to LA! 'Foxtrot Oscar' I think is a pilot's version of his reply.
Then JB gets up and to be fair (he was very nervous) did not only speak up but crack a couple of not heard before comments which I can't remember now, so don't ask. Hey I had to drink my bottle of wine before Adam Faith helped himself to any more. .....
So now to the bit where everyone gets up from their tables and says hello to Barry .....but hang about there is no one talking to the man and everyone else seems to be quite happy drinking at their respective seats...Where is this guy who was going to introduce me or should I say re-introduce...Typical he is nowhere to be found and I have one chance to say hello before the rush...I must confess that back in the early 70s when I was trying to tie him down to do an interview and I used to ring that lady at N.E.M.s all the time and she used to give me the typical brush-off that I conceived a cunning plan.....Well no it was a spur of the moment decision based on the fact that after the concert at the Albert Hall I was passing the back-stage door and there was no-one there to stop me walking in, so I marched straight into Barry's dressing room and confronted the poor man with the fact that I had been chasing him for an interview for several months. He was so shocked that he gave me his home number and asked me to call him the next day....which led to lunch and all the studio sessions etc. (previously mentioned)....So there I was left with the decision of having to
do 26 years later the same thing...Gate crash his table...Nothing ventured!!...
Just as I got to him someone came up shook his hand and thanked him for all his music etc and JB smiled and turned to face me....I said "John I have not come over to thank you for your music as that goes without saying but to thank you for lunch!" Well that got his attention and I proceeded to tell him my lunch story and how relieved I was that he had paid the bill. He laughed and turned to Don Black who had by this time joined and had butted-in that "John always pays". JB was laughing and said it was a pleasure but was struggling to recall when this all happened and wanted to know what film he was working on at the time . I mentioned "The Glass Menagerie" and was that the only time he had actually played on one of his own Soundtrack sessions ? He remembered and said it was and started to talk about the film to DB and I. Don said JB's lunches were legendary both for him paying and the style of restaurant etc. I reminded JB of some of our conversations and remarked that the big talking point in 1973 had been "Who really did write the James Bond theme?" and what his answer had been then...he looked pained but was encouraged by me saying that I had never forgotten his response then and I was sure it was the same today and he confirmed that it was. He spoke about his son and how he likes to take him to school (Play School?) and be involved in his world and because of that he was going straight back to the states. General chit chat ensued and by this time there was a queue waiting to speak to the man and I felt that I had probably had my fair share. So he shook my hand and thanked me for coming and I left a thin and slightly frail (because he looks so thin) but otherwise well man who was enjoying the attention and the accolades. I even saw him later in the evening wandering around on his own stopping at tables to converse with various people. Oh yes, when saying goodbye to him I mentioned that there were a great many people around the world and Bristol who could not be there on the night but wished him well for the night and his forthcoming birthday. I then went back to my table to rescue my wine from Adam Faith and try and beg a few extra programmes.