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John Barry dies at 77

RIP the man with the golden musical touch

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Composer John Barry has died at the age of 77, following an illustrious career which encompassed work on The Ipcress File, Midnight Cowboy, Zulu, Born Free and Dances With Wolves.

His family announced in a statement: "It is with great sadness that the family of composer John Barry announce his passing on the 30th of January 2011 in New York.

"Mr Barry is survived by his wife of 33 years, Laurie, and his four children and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be strictly private and a memorial service will be held later this year in the UK."

Among Barry's most celebrated work is his contribution to the James Bond franchise. His association with 007 began with Dr No, when he arranged Monty Norman's score.

He went on to produce memorable musical backdrops for Diamonds are Forever, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.

Barry was born in York in 1933, the son of a local cinema owner. He began his rise to musical fame as a trumpeter – first as a bandsman during his national service stint, and later as the head of the successful The John Barry Seven.

In 1960 came his first chance to try his hand at a movie score – Adam Faith vehicle Beat Girl – and by 1962 he was invited to turn his talents to the Dr No score.

Don Black, who provided the lyrics for the themes to Born Free and Diamonds Are Forever, told AP: "The thing about John that I will always remember was he never changed. He was very much the Yorkshireman, whether he was in Beverly Hills or Manhattan.

"When he played you a melody it was like an unveiling. You didn't question it because you knew he had been up all night working on it and getting it right."

Barry's last film score was Enigma, in 2001. There's a full biog of Barry here, and here's the work for which he will arguably be best remembered:

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