Another Oscar-winning legend contributes to The Complete James Bond Themes

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

If you were sitting in your local pub and you decided to make a list of the most recognisable and loved film themes of the last fifty years, you wouldn't get far before someone suggested the iconic theme from Rocky. Forever associated with Sylvester Stallone's training montage - and that climb up the Philadelphia steps - Gotta Fly Now was a US number one single and catapulted composer Bill Conti into the public eye.

Conti's first Academy Award nomination was for the Rocky theme and while he didn't win on that occasion he did conduct the orchestra on Oscar night 19 times, eventually winning one of the statuettes himself. His work in the late 1970s was also admired by regular Bond composer John Barry and when Barry was unable to work on the 1981 adventure For Your Eyes Only he recommended to the Broccolis that Conti be given the job.

As well as composing a really excellent score - although the composer himself admitted to me that he thought the disco themes sounded a little dated in the 21st century - he also wrote a title song which, for my money, is one of the prettiest pop songs in the Bond canon.

For Your Eyes Only became a major hit for Scottish starlet Sheena Easton, earned Conti an Oscar nomination and, of course, became legendary for being the only Bond film where the theme singer appeared in the opening titles.

Conti chatted to me about his original plans to hire a Hollywood legend as a lyricist, his initial reluctance to let Easton sing the theme and why lunch with Maurice Binder convinced him to rewrite the song with new Mick Leeson lyrics.

Oh, and he also told me that he wrote one of the greatest TV themes of all time; Cagney and Lacey. I dont know about you, but nothing says 'Saturday night TV in my early teens' more than the saxophone in that theme...

The full story of For Your Eyes Only will be revealed in The Complete James Bond Themes alongside the history of the other 23 James Bond title songs. We're more than half way to the target and you can help make the project a reality by pledging now at www.unbound.co.uk/books/james-bond

Next time: A night of superb James Bond music from one of the UK's finest symphony orchestras and (yet another) Oscar-winning legend.

Nick

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