John Barry Prendergast was born in Yorkshire, England in 1933. His mother played piano and his father owned a chain of movie houses. Both music and cinema fascinated him. Barry trained classically on piano, but also learned the trumpet later on. Following a stint in the military, Barry formed The John Barry Seven. Initially, the group's sound was based on the big brass-heavy sounds in rock music at the time (as with Bill Haley & The Comets). But Barry had a keen ear and believed pop tastes were about to change. Soon the band adopted the guitar and strings sound that would be the hallmark of Barry's career.
While the early instrumental records by The John Barry Seven were not exactly storming up the charts, they were drawing notice from industry insiders. Barry's biggest break came when one of England's biggest pop stars of the time, Adam Faith, hired Barry and his band to arrange and play his musical accompaniment. Together, they took "What Do You Want" to #1 on the British charts.
Counting the Bond films, Barry scored some 70 motion pictures during his lifetime including "Born Free", "Midnight Cowboy", "Somewhere In Time", "The Lion In Winter", "Out Of Africa", "Dances With Wolves" and "The Golden Child". The winner of 5 Oscars and several Grammys, Emmys and Golden Globes, John Barry was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1998. He was an innovator, even using moog music in his compositions long before it was fashionable. And he was known to be quite the ladies man, married 4 times (divorced 3). All in all, John Barry enjoyed his life tremendously as he was happy to tell anyone who asked.
Aside from the occasional vaguely winter titled track (e.g. "Get Lost Jack Frost"), John Barry has given us two solid contributions to the holiday cannon. His own composition, "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown", was a part of the soundtrack for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", a 1969 Bond film. The best known version is likely Jackie Deshannon's, though her 1969 Imperial single failed to chart. 9 years earlier, while still in his association with Adam Faith, Barry arranged and provided the instrumental backing for the 1960 novelty "Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop)".
Perhaps the best epitaph came via Twitter from comedian Sue Perkins, again included in The Guardian's obituary: "R.I.P. John Barry--a man who made the world sound sexy for a while."