Vic Flick's Riff Captures The Sound Of James Bond

The 007 theme is one of the most famous themes in movie history. The infamous guitar riff that gives the theme its secret agent feel was performed by Vic Flick, who spoke to Morning Edition about the day he played it, 50 years ago. (This piece initially aired on October 03, 2012 on Morning Edition).

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We've been looking back at some of the stories we heard on MORNING EDITION in the past year and bringing you encore performances of our favorites. 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, "Dr. No." and to help 007 celebrate, we investigated one of the ingredients that helps make Bond films so Bond.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BOND THEME SONG)

MONTAGNE: Ah, yes, the music. This is one of the most famous themes in movie history, and here's the part that gives it that secret agent feel.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BOND THEME SONG)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That guitar riff was performed by Vic Flick. In 1962, Mr. Flick was a 25-year-old studio guitarist who was asked to help give the Bond theme more punch. The composer, Monty Norman, was scrambling to complete the score for the first Bond movie, "Dr. No." He'd scratched out a rough draft, but Flick says it felt a little flat.

VIC FLICK: What Monty had written was like duh, duh, duh, dee, dah, dee dee so we - and as you know the Bond theme but nothing sort of dynamic.

MONTAGNE: Then the Bond producers heard the soundtrack to the 1960 teenage angst movie "Beat Girl" and it was just the sound they were looking for.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Sound familiar?

INSKEEP: Yes.

MONTAGNE: This theme was written by composer John Barry. That's Flick on guitar. The Bond producers hired Barry to arrange 007's theme and he in turn asked Flick to help.

FLICK: When we got it, we looked at it and added to it and changed it, so, you know, the combination of his writing for brass and my guitar playing kind of brought the thing to a conclusion and everybody seemed to be quite happy and it's followed me down for fifty years, so it couldn't have been too bad.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BOND THEME SONG)

INSKEEP: To get just the right sound, Vic Flick says he had to really dig in to his guitar.

FLICK: To play it normally, suppose it was just a tune, you go...

(SOUNDBITE OF GUITAR)

FLICK: ...but to give it some urgency and dynamicism(ph), or whatever the word is, you know, you just...

(SOUNDBITE OF GUITAR)

FLICK: Did you notice the difference?

MONTAGNE: Flick is now 75. He says he reckons John Barry and composer Monty Norman made a fortune off the Bond theme. As for him...

FLICK: I got $15 for recording it.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BOND THEME SONG)

INSKEEP: But Flick's says he's not bitter. He did start getting some royalty checks in the mid-1990s. And last fall, he helped mark the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film by performing his famous guitar riff at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES BOND THEME SONG)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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