Guest writer Ross Scharphorn reports from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event, "The Music of Bond"...

The Music Of Bond Report

7th October 2012

I began Global James Bond Day like any good Bond fan would, I first watched the Everything or Nothing documentary, listened to Adele's new title song, and watched about five or so random You Tube clips celebrating everyone's favourite cinematic super spy. That night, however, we attended "The Music of Bond: The First 50 Years" at the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences here in Los Angeles.

Entering the iconic home of cinema, one is met by a doorman who graciously takes care of one's coats. Inside the venue, needless to say, most everyone there was dressed to impress. We took our seats, the lights dimmed, and the velvet curtains were pulled back between the two giant golden Oscar statues to reveal the chem de fur scene from "Dr. No". When Sean Connery uttered the immortal words, "Bond, James Bond." the theatre erupted with applause.

The house lights came up on Mr. Vic Flick, sitting on the stage, with his vintage 1939 guitar and he began playing the riff that made him famous the world over - those awesome twangy notes of the James Bond Theme. Shortly after he struck the last chord, we were introduced to our host for the evening, Mr. Jon Burlingame. For those that are not familiar with Burlingame's work, he is a historian and the author of several books including, "Sound and Vision: 60 Years of Motion Picture Soundtracks", "TV's Biggest Hits", and of course "The Music of James Bond". He performed his compère duties admirably, providing colourful insight into what it took to make all of the wonderful music of Bond.

As the night went on, we watched clips that showcased the music from almost every one of the Bond films. This was interlaced interviews and speeches from Don Black, Vic Flick, and Bill Conti - who wrote lyrics, played guitar, and scored some of the Bond films respectively. One highlight of the night were when Don Black recalled a couple of stories involving Shirley Bassey.

Most Bond fans will have heard the story about how Tom Jones passed out while recording the last colossal note in "Thunderball", but what is lesser known is the story of how Shirley Bassey had trouble getting the final note right while recording the theme for "Goldfinger". According to Black, who witnessed the session, Bassey was then approached by the late great John Barry, who told the nervous singer to, "loosen up a bit" on this next take. So seconds before they rolled, the men in the control room noticed Shirley's bra come over the top of her booth! Apparently, she ended up nailing it, and that's the take they used for the final film.

Right: Cover of "The Music of Bond" programme.

 


Bill Conti was also highly entertaining. He had many interesting stories from that film, including the reason why Sheena Easton was the only woman to be seen while singing the main title song for a Bond film. Apparently Maurice Binder, the genius behind 14 of the greatest opening credits sequences in Bond history (because they mostly featured naked swimming girls...Thanks Maurice), fell in love with Ms. Easton because, according to Conti, he was "vertically challenged", and she was the only one who auditioned that was shorter than him.

The evening would not have been complete without a surprise video greeting from Sir Roger Moore, who had the room roaring with his dry wit and incomparable sarcasm. This was followed by another interview with Vic Flick, this time discussing how he and Eric Clapton once wrote an unused track for the 1989 film "License to Kill".


Above: Lola Larson, Ross Scharphorn, Gloria Hendry and Lynn-Holly Johnson.

The night was then capped off by a special trailer cut together by the people at Sony, set to the newest Bond title song, "Skyfall" by the sultry Adele.

One final surprise was in store for attendees: Mr. Burlingame introduced some Bond veterans sitting in the crowd with us, including Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli's grandsons, and three beautiful Bond Girls: Lola Larson who played Bambi in "Diamonds Are Forever", Gloria Hendry who played Rosie Carver in "Live and Let Die", and gorgeous Lynn-Holly Johnson who played Bibi Dahl in "For Your Eyes Only".

Happy Anniversary 007! When it comes to music in the movies, nobody does it better.

Many thanks to Ross Scharphorn. All photos © Ross Scharphorn. Used with permission.

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