Hats off to Barry

John Barry, the amazingly talented musician and film score composer died yesterday of a heart attack.

Of course, I know the Bond Themes. Barry was as much a part of the Bond franchise as Broccoli. (The husband and wife, not the green stuff), but Barry played a very significant part in my music loving life. At the age of about eight or nine, I was taken to see Adam Faith, backed by the John Barry Seven. It was my first ever music concert, if you leave out Billy Cotton.

Faith was second only to Cliff in those days because even the Beatles were further down the bill than Alma Cogan. Barry gave Adam Faith an edge that Cliff lacked. His later incarnation as Budgie Bird shows you how his public persona migrated from naughty popster to naughty character actor. (Faith was seriously intent on an acting career form the outset and trained at the Royal Court).

It was John Barry and his management who turned Terry Nelhams into the pop icon of the time, underscoring the faith in him with Barry's own band while on tour. Faith's breakthough hit "What do you want", with its Buddy Holly hiccup was Barry's  arrangement.

The John Barry toured with Faith in his early years, being given a spot on their own on the bill. I remember they had one of those amazing electric pianos, the kind you get on the Del Shannon records. In fact, if memory serves me well, they played "Hats off to Larry".
Having just tried to check this, the Musitron or Clavioline was the name of the keyboard instrument, and indeed, Barry, whilst working with his band did indeed use a Clavioline on several occasions.

According to the Del Shannon website,

Adam Faith ripped off the Musitron sound too in "Don't You Know It" and other songs. John Barry was totally inspired by Max Crook's work on Del Shannon's hits. Barry used a clavioline on his recordings of "Rocco's Theme," "Spinnerree," "Moody River," "Starfire," Rum-Dee-Dum-Dee-Dah," "Watch Your Step," and "Twist It." The latter two songs featured a great trilling work, which Adam Faith adopted soon thereafter.
So, yes, John Barry will be remembered for Bond. But he did a lot more, including this one, that some of you may remember.


Jim Baxter said...

Juke Box Jury with David Jacobs. Just like the X Factor that was. 405 lines, the spindly legs on the Sobell set, having to get up to change to the other channel, and the little white dot. All comes back.

Mekusacuppa said...

RIP John Barry.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane WW.
I celebrated the big 60 this year and I fondly remember this theme tune and watching Juke Box Jury on a Saturday in my teens.
Better times - or is my brain just being selective and only remembering the better times?

strapworld said...


The obituary in the Telegraph today was sour piece.

Like you I remember the John barry Seven, and the excellent guitarist Vic Flick. This band has an immense influence on many bands that followed. And let us not forget that bands were people with instruments and who sang as well.

Not these manufactured, computer generated, boy or girl bands we get today.

I obviously saw the same concert you did, although I saw Adam Faith and the John Barry Seven in Stockton on Tees. All the groups and big names came to that town and the Shadows played in panto there and wrote 'Stars fell on Stockton' (just a bit of brain fluff-sorry).

John Barry's compositions for films are all superb. I suppose because he owed the taxman for so many years he never got a gong from The Queen. But he won more oscars than any other Brit living or dead!

Thank you for writing such a lovely obituary.

Span Ows said...

from before I was born I think! But a fine tune nonetheless.

Great new look although you still have that scary, seriously, swing couple in the side-bar!

Sarah said...

Ahhh - memories! I remember that Adam Faith concert. It was in Peterborough and I was sick in the car on the way. My first ever record was 'How about that?' and the B side was 'With open arms'. Funny how I can recall all that yet would be pushed to tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday.

Brian said...

I watched Wildtrack in the late seventies /early eighties and had a Madeleine moment a few years' later when I saw Midnight Cowboy and heard Barry's Florida Fantasy during Rizzo's dream sequence. He was very talented composer/arranger. Actually, it wasn't strictly a Madeleine moment, more of a Su Ingle second.