Film composer Barry dies aged 77


British film composer John Barry, who won five Oscars and is best known for creating music for the James Bond movies, has died of a heart attack. He was 77.

Barry's Bond compositions included Goldfinger, From Russia With Love and You Only Live Twice.

His Academy Awards included best music for Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa and Born Free.

Fellow Bond composer David Arnold wrote on his Twitter feed: "It was with a heavy heart that I tell you John Barry passed away this morning". Barry's London agent was not immediately available for comment.

"I think James Bond would have been far less cool without John Barry holding his hand," Arnold later told BBC Radio.

Barry was born John Barry Prendergast, the son of a Co Cork man, was raised in and around cinemas in the north of England. His father was a projectionist in the silent movie era and ended up owning a small chain of cinemas, which Barry Snr and Jnr regularly visited.

In his teens, Barry soaked up the soundtrack work of Max Steiner and Bernard Herrmann, spent a couple of national service years in the British army and graduated towards the burgeoning post-war youth pop market with an outfit called the John Barry Seven.

From there, he moved to television, including BBC's Drumbeat and to youth cult movies such as Beat Girl, his music informed as much by soundtrack composers as by Duane Eddy and Dizzy Gillespie. From there it was a lifestyle of champagne suppers and starlets as Bond movies paved the way for somewhat more serious films such as Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves.

He was made an OBE and was awarded a Bafta fellowship in 2005 in recognition of his work.

Barry’s style, complete with lush strings and grand orchestral movements, was instantly recognisable and influenced stars including Robbie Williams, whose 1998 number one hit Millennium was inspired by the theme to You Only Live Twice.