George Martin, King of the Bond Theme

Michael Gerber
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Sir George Martin

“Name’s Martin. George Martin.”

Some of you know that I’m a very big, but very picky, fan of James Bond. So much so that — if Bystander ever gives me a couple months’ off — I’m planning a novel designed to be the ultimate Fleming-era Bond book. It should be great fun.

But even I did not know that George Martin produced Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger”. Add this to 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” and it’s clear that, in addition to all of his other accolades, Sir George has to be considered the King of the Bond Theme.

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar linda.a wrote:

    I’ve always loved Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger. I forgot that George Martin produced it. I’m not surprised.

  2. Avatar Beasty Glanglemutton wrote:

    He’s the man with the Midas touch!

  3. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    For years I believed George produced Goldfinger, but now I’m confused. I know trusting wikipedia is a sucker’s game, but this is what it tells me:

    Shirley Bassey was John Barry’s choice to record the song; he had been conductor on Bassey’s national tour in December 1963 and the two had also been romantically involved. Barry had played Bassey an instrumental track of the song before its lyrics were written; the singer would recall that hearing the track had given her “goose bumps”. She agreed to sing the song whatever the lyrics might eventually be. Bassey recorded the track on August 20, 1964 at London’s CTS Studios in Wembley: the track’s producer credit named Bassey’s regular producer George Martin, but the session was in fact overseen by Barry.
    The recording of “Goldfinger” lasted all night as Barry demanded repeated takes due to musicians’ or technical glitches, not any shortcomings in Bassey’s vocal. Bassey did initially have issues with the climactic final note which necessitated her slipping behind a studio partition between takes to remove her bra. Bassey would recall of the final note: “I was holding it and holding it – I was looking at John Barry and I was going blue in the face and he’s going – hold it just one more second. When it finished, I nearly passed out.”

  4. Karen Hooper Karen Hooper wrote:

    Oh god, Mike–I’m glad you qualified your enjoyment of James Bond as “picky”, because otherwise we’d have to strip you of your feminist credentials. 🙂

    • Funnily enough, @Karen, I inherited my Bond-love from my mother, a feminist and woman of fascinating contradictions.

      I like the first three Connery Bonds very much, in part because I’m highly familiar with the real-world analogues of the era, and they are slightly more realistic and involve more spycraft than gadgets. They are closer to the Fleming books, which are at their best in the years when Bond is a Cold War fable, and not a droll anesthetized superhero battling a World Domination League (apologies to E.L. Wisty).

      Whenever a female character shows up in one of the Fleming books, I feel like yelling at her, “Lady! Get out of here! This author is bad for your health!”

  5. Avatar Alejandra wrote:

    “It’s for you” comes to my mind, a song composed by Lennon and McCartney sung by Cilla Black and produced by George Martin!, which in my opinion sounds like a James Bond theme.

    It would have been a good choice for a movie.

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