Entertainment & Arts

David Arnold pays tribute to 'governor' John Barry

John Barry and David Arnold
Arnold (r) said Barry (l) had an "extraordinary [and] transfigurative" gift

Composer David Arnold was a friend and collaborator of the late John Barry, and often collected awards on the composer's behalf as his health failed.

Speaking to BBC 6 Music he paid tribute to his mentor, who played an instrumental role in Arnold being hired to write the music for the last five James Bond films.

"There's a beautiful phrase: 'If something is written from the heart, it goes to the heart. That's what it felt like when I heard John Barry's music for the first time.

I saw my first Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, when I was about eight years old. It was the moment I realised what I wanted to do - to be in a dark room and hear that sound.

It felt like it went directly to the core of who I was. I felt a kinship with it, and I am sure there are millions of others who have the same story.

It's impossible to separate James Bond from John Barry's music. They went hand in hand. He was able to show you the menace, the sexiness, the aggression and the emotion.

Everything that is cool and fabulous about James Bond is in the music. You could be stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 in a Ford Fiesta, but if you're playing a John Barry score you're in an Aston Martin. It was just an extraordinary, transfigurative thing he did.

If you think about it, Goldfinger was released in 1964 at the height of Beatlemania. It was an enormous record but it created a world of its own.

You listen to that and you wouldn't be aware of anything else that was going on in the world at that time. It was in its own universe.

Of course, John was aligned to very cool things as well - obviously James Bond and Harry Palmer - and he was having hit records with his band, the John Barry Seven.

He lived in Chelsea and I think he drove an Aston Martin. If he didn't he should have done. He had the whole thing down.

There have been other influences in my life, of course, but there was a run of John Barry scores - the Bond movies, The Ipcress File, Somewhere in Time, Mary Queen Of Scots, right through to Zulu - that were the key.

It felt like I wanted to write them myself. And I think that's what an inspiration is. You feel, 'God, I wish I could have done that.'

Luckily, I got to know John very well when I started to work on the Bond films and he was always hugely supportive and friendly.

Meeting him was like touching the hem of God's frock.

Today, everyone is saying the same thing. He was the governor and it's a sad and profound loss."

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