Sadly last week, we lost one of Hollywood's great film composers, John Barry. He passed away at his home in New York from a heart attack at the age of 77. And today happens to be another great Hollywood composer's birthday. John Williams turns 79 today. So what better time than today to talk about my love of these two great gentlemen's music?
Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, the first three Harry Potter films, the first two Jurassic Park films, "Superman," "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T."...need I go on? There are just so many to name. He even wrote the theme for the Olympics, that fanfare we hear constantly every two years! He has been nominated 45 times for Academy Awards. 45!! Tied with composer Alfred Newman, he is the second most nominated individual in Oscar history. (Walt Disney is #1 with 59 nominations, 22 of those winners.) Williams has only won five out of his 45 nominations, but he's also won four Golden Globes, seven BAFTAs, and 21 Grammys. I got to see him conduct at the Hollywood Bowl once. My brother gave me tickets for my birthday one year. It was so amazing to hear many of his famous themes conducted by the man himself in those historic and iconic hills of Hollywood.
Dances with Wolves," "Out of Africa," "Born Free," "The Lion in Winter," as well as "Somewhere in Time," "Chaplin," and eleven James Bond films. In fact, though he didn't receive screen credit for it, he created the famous Bond theme music...or at least arranged it. "Dr. No" composer Monty Norman was having such a difficult time creating a satisfying theme for Bond that the producers turned to then-lesser-known Barry for help. He came in and, using some of Norman's already-written elements, arranged the Bond theme we know so well today. Norman received all the credit and residuals for the piece but many people have made it no secret that Barry came in to help. Norman has won two class action lawsuits against others claiming that Barry was the actual composer. Most likely he did just arrange it better, adding some jazz riffs and motifs here and there. Yet, when producers had trouble with their next composer on "From Russia with Love," they remembered Barry and hired him full out as the film's composer, a relationship that lasted for ten more films. The other famous Bond theme titled "007" is all Barry's.
Drumbeat." On that, he met singer Adam Faith who hired Barry for his first film-composing job for Faith's first movie as well, "Beat Girl." This led to three more films and a job at EMI record company arranging orchestral music for the company's artists. These achievements are what caught the attention of the Bond producers and the rest is, as they say, Hollywood history.
"Peter Gunn Theme." His first film-composing job was for the B-movie "Daddy-O" in 1958, and his career just grew from there, with films and television alike. (Some of his TV themes include "Lost in Space" and the pilot episode of "Gilligan's Island.")
So, get your music fix and listen to some greats this week, to honor both a man on his birthday and a man at his death. May your lives all be beautifully scored this week, just like in the movies. :) See you Friday!
(Post-tidbit: Williams has scored every one of Steven Spielberg's directorial films since they started working together in 1974 with "The Sugarland Express"...except two - "The Color Purple" and "Twilight Zone: The Movie," in which Spielberg only directed a section of the film.)