Oscar-winning composer John Barry, the man behind many of the iconic James Bond theme tunes, has passed away at the age of 77. The British musician suffered a fatal heart attack on Sunday, January 30. His fellow Bond composer, David Arnold, took to Twitter.com to write, "It was with a heavy heart that I tell you John Barry passed away this morning. I am profoundly saddened by the news but profoundly thankful for everything he did for music and for me personally."
Starting his career working on music for BBC programs, Barry moved on to arrange orchestral accompaniments for EMI and was approached to help compose the score for James Bond's first big screen outing in 1962's "Dr. No". He went on to devise the iconic style of music throughout some of the spy series' most popular films, and composed legendary theme tunes including "Goldfinger", "From Russia With Love", "Thunderball" and "Diamonds Are Forever".
As well as his work on 11 Bond films, he composed music for "Born Free", "Out of Africa" and "Dances with Wolves", all of which won him Academy Awards. Barry received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) fellowship in 2005. He married four times, including a short-lived union to British actress/singer Jane Birkin, and has four children.
Stars including Simon Le Bon, Stephen Fry and Simon Pegg have led tributes to John Barry. A number of stars have spoken out to honor the late Brit, with Duran Duran singer Le Bon recalling his former collaborator's inspiring talent. The pair co-wrote 1985 track "A View to a Kill" for the Bond movie of the same name, and received a Golden Globe nomination for their hit.
Le Bon says, "I would say he had a very, very full life. I mean, when we met him, he was really enjoying himself. The music is an important part of any film, and when you've got something as recognizable as the Bond themes, but also the kind of music which was in them, it was so important in making the film work."
Meanwhile, funnyman Pegg took to his Twitter.com page to remember Barry's musical legacy: "The composer of so many classic film scores from Midnight Cowboy to Dances with Wolves and of course all those Bonds. RIP John Barry OBE." British actor/writer Fry admits he was saddened by the news, calling Barry a mensch, the Yiddish word for a person of honor. He writes, "John Barry has died. How sad. One of the greats and a real mensch. RIP."
Superproducer Mark Ronson also dedicated a 'tweet' to Barry, writing: "RIP John Barry 1 of the greatest composers EVER. Goldfinger Diamonds Are Forever View To A Kill... & Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, You Only Live Twice etc... every time John Barry sat down to write a score, he wrote a modern standard."