- It was Sean Connery who immortalised the self-introduction “Bond, James Bond” in 1962 ushering in the most famous signature theme music in motion picture history
- The signature tune that appeared in Dr No almost 60 years ago is recognisable to billions of people around the world and has made the music from the Bond series a significant part of pop music culture.
- British composer John Barry’s rock influenced arrangement of the James Bond theme, originally composed by Monty Norman, not only helped to propel the character of Bond into one of the most popular film heroes ever.
The death of the original James Bond actor Sean Connery last weekend at 90 has rekindled memories of the groundbreaking music that was the soundtrack to the classic films with the Scottish actor in the role of Agent 007.
It was Sean Connery who immortalised the self-introduction “Bond, James Bond” in 1962 ushering in the most famous signature theme music in motion picture history
The signature tune that appeared in Dr No almost 60 years ago is recognisable to billions of people around the world and has made the music from the Bond series a significant part of pop music culture.
British composer John Barry’s rock influenced arrangement of the James Bond theme, originally composed by Monty Norman, not only helped to propel the character of Bond into one of the most popular film heroes ever, it set the tone for much of the cinema and television’s soundtrack music that was to come.
John Barry’s innovative use of electric guitar through his bass and percussion orchestrations established a style that became the defining sound of the 1960s.
British Secret Service agent James Bond was the creation of novelist Ian Fleming. A former British naval intelligence officer, Fleming wrote 12 novels and two collections of short stories between 1952 and 1964 detailing the exploits of his fictional hero. The film adaptations of these books have been produced since Connery’s role in Dr No in 1962.
It was a Friday night phone call from Noel Rodgers, head of music at United Artists that put Barry to work on the orchestration of Monty Norman’s two-minute composition that would become the James Bond theme for the Dr. No soundtrack.
John Barry was already a star with his John Barry Seven jazz group and for a fee of less than $1,000 and without the benefit of first watching the movie, he arranged the track on short notice. The tune hit the Top 20 of the UK pop charts and Barry would be called back to compose eleven James Bond movies over the next three decades.
Meanwhile, Sean Connery returned in the role of Agent 007 for the second film, From Russia With Love in what many critics consider to be the best Bond film in the series. The Cold War thriller in 1963 became the first Bond film to introduce sophisticated espionage gadgets including the multi-purpose attaché case
The title theme music is an instrumental, with a vocal rendition written by Lionel Bart and performed by Matt Monroe used both within the film and again during the end credits.
The third film in the series, Goldfinger premiered in December 1964, four months after the death of Ian Fleming. Shirley Bassey’s powerful rendition of the title song created the first U.S hit out of a James Bond title theme. The song is Barry’s personal favorite of his many Bond titles. “Shirley Bassey was perfect casting,” he said. “She brought such conviction to it.”
This was also the first Bond film in which the composer was given full musical authority and according to him the music “really came together”
The next Bond film Thunderball roared across cinema screens in 1965. The film was primarily set in the Bahamas with a title song that was a powerful follow up to Bassey’s “Goldfinger” performed by the Welsh heartthrob Tom Jones making it to the U.S Charts for 6 weeks.
In 1967, Connery announced that he had had enough of playing 007 and that his fifth Bond film would be his last. The title song for “You Only Live Twice” performed by Nancy Sinatra, who was riding on the success of her global hit These Boots Are Made For Walking offers a sweeping melody and thought-provoking lyrics written by Leslie Bricusse.
John Barry created the instrumental piece for On Her Majesty’s Service in 1969 with American George Lazenby as 007 and legendary jazz man Louis Armstrong sung the balled We Have All The Time in The World.
Connery returned to the role of Bond in Diamonds are Forever with Shirley Bassey performing a sexy rendition of Barry’s title song. This also marked the end of the Sean Connery era and the beginning of Roger Moore in the famous role beginning with the 1973 film Live and Let Die which featured Paul McCartney and Wings as the first group to perform a Bond theme.