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Barry Gray – The Gerry Anderson Years

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Barry Gray - composer extraordinaire

Barry Gray - composer extraordinaireIn the beginning…

In 1956, children’s’ author Roberta Leigh took the outline for her television series, “The Adventures Of Twizzle”, to Gerry and his AP Films partner Arthur Provis. One of her requests was that Vera Lynn’s arranger, Barry Gray – who Leigh knew from Lynn recording several of her songs for children – should be appointed Musical Director. As Vera Lynn was a world famous star and the APF crew knew no-one else; they agreed. Not that Gray was required to compose the music. His brief was to arrange and record tunes Leigh’s friend Leslie Clair had hummed into a tape recorder.

Four Feather Falls

The transcribe – arrange – record set up was repeated for the next series, Torchy The Battery Boy. It wasn’t until Gerry’s third puppet series, “Four Feather Falls” that Gray finally got to compose. In fact Barry developed the format for the western series, originally titled “The Magical Town Of Four Feather Falls” and wrote the script for the initial episode. That APF bought the concept speaks of the relationship that had developed between Gray and Anderson.

A Perfect Partnership

The special relationship continued, with the exception of The Protectors and The Investigator, to Space: 1999 season one (1973-1974). Although a somewhat clichéd term, the relationship was an incredibly creative journey for both men. As technology allowed Gerry to stride forward with production values, so Barry matched him with the music. From the simple themes of “Four Feather Falls” to the symphonic sounds of the three major movies, Gray appeared to take inspiration from the pictures, growing as a composer. Throughout the eighteen years, every note was essential and the sound was always just right for the production, both suiting and expressing the scene.

Not that Barry had completely free reign, as he recalled in a radio interview in 1979. “Gerry has some idea of the type of the music he wants and he works very closely with you on the first episode, or on the pilot episode as it might be. And then after that you’re on your own, you know! But, initially he had some sort of idea that he’d like to do, something in his mind. Although he’s not knowledgeable about music, he is very musical as far as the type of music that he likes. And the type of thing he thinks is right for that particular episode, or film, or whatever it might be.”

Barry Gray after conducting an orchestra

The End of an Era

For personal reasons, Gray declined the invitation to compose the music for the second season of Space: 1999 and he was replaced by Derek Wadsworth. He was also Gerry’s first choice to produce the music for Terrahawks, in 1982, but it was not to be and Richard Harvey stepped in. Sadly, Space: 1999 season one proved to be Gray’s last original music for film or television.

Barry Gray passed away in hospital on Guernsey on April 26th, 1984

Barry Gray’s music legacy continues…a 45 minute set is planned for this year’s Glastonbury Festival, with possible concerts for 2015 currently being discussed. A new series of music scores, written from Barry’s original arrangements, for Brass Bands and Wind Concert Bands will be released through leading supplier Just Music, with a major promotion planned during the summer months. Fanderson will be releasing definitive CD music compilations of Space: 1999 Year One and Thunderbirds this year, with further series to follow, and possible commercial releases later this year and into 2015, and beyond…and Twilight Time have just released the two Thunderbirds films on Blu-Ray, featuring Barry’s Thunderbird 6 score in stereo for the very first time!

For all the latest news, visit: www.barrygray.co.uk

Thanks to Ralph Titterton and Cathy Ford for this lovely article about Barry!

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