In 1998, Geoff Leonard, Pete Walker and Gareth Bramley wrote `John Barry, A Life in Music'. That sold out long ago. Ten years later they have published the follow up `John Barry, The Man With The Midas Touch'. The new book is not just a second edition of the first, with a few corrections. It is a major rewrite with a significant amount of new material including photographs.
John Barry has had a career in music spanning more than 50 years. Born in York in 1933 his father ran a chain of cinemas across the north of England and his mother was a classically trained pianist. From his time in the army as part of a music regiment during the early 50s, through to forming one of the leading pre Beatles pop groups, The John Barry Seven, and on to scoring numerous films both in the UK and US including eleven of the James Bond series, `The Black Hole', `Out Of Africa', `Somewhere In Time' and `The Lion In Winter'.
Barry has composed some of the most outstanding music of the last half century. On the way he picked up four Oscars for best score and one for best song. Further, he has written five stage musicals and a number of TV themes including `The Persuaders', conducted concerts of his work at the Royal Albert Hall in London and released albums of non soundtrack work He also composed for many TV commercials particularly in the 1960s including one for `Sunsilk' shampoo that would later be released as the B side to `The Persuaders' and become the encore to his concerts. In 1988 he nearly died when he suffered an allergic reaction to a health food drink which ruptured his oesophagus. However he triumphantly returned in 1990 to compose one of his greatest scores `Dances With Wolves' and pick up his fifth Oscar. There is a Barry sound that gives much of his work a unity but each theme, score and album is unique. A man with the Midas touch, indeed.
This book is the detailed story of John Barry's career in the music business. It is divided into thirty chapters plus a forward by his frequent lyricist, Don Black. There are also fascinating sections relating to the various awards he has had bestowed and a discography listing all his record releases over six separate decades. Each chapter focuses on a particular aspect of John Barry's career: Oscars, musicals, James Bond, concerts, his work with Adam Faith and so on. Each chapter also begins with an appropriate quote, many by Barry himself. For instance, the chapter on the Swinging Sixties begins with the following from Barry:
"The life I was living was fifty times more fun than anything in The Knack"
What is immediately striking is that the 300 page book fully captures the variety and richness of Barry's career. Each chapter is full of information but also highly readable making this a book that will appeal to both hard core Barry fans and newcomers. Even people who have never heard of Barry could read and enjoy it and marvel at a musical career that has produced so much of quality for so long.
John Barry is one of the greats of modern music; this book is a worthy tribute to the man and his career.