Website last updated: 26-2-2024

Don Black on John Barry beyond Bond on BBC Radio 4

By: FSWL team
Don black on john barry
Famed British lyricist Don Black shares personal memories of John Barry, one of the most celebrated film composers of his generation, who died last year. This program from BBC Radio 2 is something Bond scholars MUST listen to, pure edutainment! Duration 117 minutes.

Over five decades, John Barry scored more than 125 films and won five Oscars, including the statuette he shared with Don for Born Free (1966). Other magical collaborations included the Bond theme's Thunderball (1965) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971), as well as a musical version of Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar (1963).

Don remembers his first sighting of "a classy, elegant chap" on Tin Pan Alley, who ate "like a ballerina" and would despatch indebted film producers with his characteristic "Yorkshire bluntness". On their collaborations, he remembers Tom Jones fainting after the sustained end note of Thunderball, and a producer's dismissal of the "lousy tune" and "filthy lyrics" of Diamonds Are Forever.

We also hear about artistic differences during rehearsals for Billy Liar, and the complete failure of another musical, The Little Prince And The Aviator, which closed during preview. And Don recalls a memorable night at the home of the great Leslie Bricusse (who he worked with on Goldfinger (1964)), when he, Quincy Jones, Henry Mancini and Burt Bacharach had to break up a fight, between Barry and John Phillips (of The Mamas and the Papas), after the comparatively diminutive composer challenged Phillips to hum something by Mahler.

This tribute is soundtracked by some of Barry's best loved compositions, including Born Free, Out Of Africa, The Ipcress File, Midnight Cowboy, Dances With Wolves, and several of those classic Bond themes.

Editor's note:
Special thanks to our dear friend Mark Witherspoon for the alert about this program.

Listen to Don Black on John Barry: Beyond Bond from BBC Radio 2:



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