James Bond: ‘Irritated, sleep deprived’ Michael Caine first person to hear Goldfinger song
Honor Blackman stars as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger in 1964
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After the first two James Bond movies, Sean Connery starred in 1964’s Goldfinger, which would go on to have one of the 007 franchise’s most famous theme songs. The track was composed by John Barry, who had also arranged and performed the James Bond theme on Dr No. When coming up with a new theme for Goldfinger, director Guy Hamilton suggested that Barry listen to the gritty track Mack The Knife, whose lyrics were “about a charismatic b*****d”.
According to Empire’s Bond: The Ultimate Celebration, Barry ended up spending several long nights at his piano in his Knightsbridge apartment struggling to come up with the third 007 movie’s theme song.
At the time the composer’s new flatmate was Michael Caine, who co-starred in Zulu, which Barry scored.
And apparently, all this late-night piano playing was “much to the irritation of [the] sleep-deprived” Caine.
That was until one morning when the acting legend came downstairs for breakfast and became the first person to hear the Goldfinger theme song.
And after playing Goldfinger to Caine, Barry “promptly fell asleep at the keyboard”.
The composer then set about recruiting 27-year-old Welsh singer Shirley Bassey, with who’d he’d had a brief relationship with while conducting the orchestra on her 1963 tour.
Goldfinger was recorded at London’s CTS Studios on August 20, 1964 with a 60 piece orchestra.
Interestingly, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page played the guitar on what would become the most famous Bond theme.
Earlier this year, Page told GQ how Bassey ended up collapsing when trying to hit that top note at the end.
The 77-year-old said: “The full orchestra sounded absolutely amazing, but then Shirley Bassey arrived. This was Goldfinger.
“She arrived with a friend, was very quiet and then was asked to come out and sing. And it took her just one take.”
But then Bassey went blue in the face and fainted as John Barry kept telling her to keep holding that final note for a few more seconds.
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Page continued: “And at the end of the tape she collapsed on the floor. At the end of the song she just held this one note and she basically ran out of breath and collapsed.
“You know how dramatic she is usually, what with all the stuff she does with her hands, but this was even more dramatic – and I was in the front row of the musicians, so I really had a good view of all of this.”
Despite Bassey herself only needing one take, Barry had insisted on repeated ones due to musical and technical glitches.
In fact, the singer had to remove her bra behind a studio partition between takes so she could keep hitting that final note of Goldfinger.
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