Thunderball

Album: A-Tom-Ic Jones (1965)
Charted: 35 25

Songfacts®:

  • This was the theme song to the 1965 James Bond movie of the same name. The music was written by John Barry, who did the music for the three previous Bond movies: Dr. No, From Russia with Love , and Goldfinger.

    Barry explained to NPR that "Thunderball" was a very difficult word to write music around, so instead he wrote a song called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which is what Italian audiences had been calling James Bond. He recorded the song with both Dionne Warwick and Shirley Bassey, but two weeks before the movie opened, the film studio insisted on a song titled after the movie, which worked so well for "Goldfinger." So Barry complied and wrote the new song, telling NPR, "I don't think anybody really analyzed what the hell he was singing about. And I still don't know what the song is about to this day. But we were given that problem, and we had to live with it."

    The rejected song, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," was eventually released in 1990.
  • The lyrics were written by the legendary British lyricist Don Black - it was the first of several James Bond movies he contributed towards. Black explained to The Independent December 30, 2009 how he writes a Bond theme tune: "With Thunderball the first thing I did was look it up in the dictionary. So I scratched my head and used it as a code word, you know, 'He strikes like thunderball'. The thing I remember most is Tom Jones' recording of the song in which he fainted on the last note. He got a head rush or something. The Bond songs I describe as the lure of the forbidden. It should have the whiff of a boudoir about it."
  • Tom recalled working with Bond composer John Barry on this song in an interview with The Mail On Sunday February 6, 2011: "I met him for the first time at the recording of Thunderball but I'd heard about him because he had a band called The John Barry Seven. His bass player had an electric bass which in the Fifties was rare – especially in England. And there was a connection because Les Reed, who wrote a lot of my big songs, was John Barry's pianist. I was thrilled to bits when they asked me to do 'Thunderball.' I thought, 'Oh my God, a song for a James Bond film.' The most memorable thing about the session was hitting that note at the end. John told me to hold on to this very high note for as long as possible. I hit it but I had to hold on to the wall of the sound booth to steady myself in case I fell down. Thank God, I didn't. I knocked off the recording pretty quickly. I think John and I became very good friends, simply because he didn't have to spend long on my part."

Comments: 4

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenThe great John Barry managed to write around the word "Thunderball," but 18 years later, the word "Octopussy" defeated him!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 21st 1965, the fourth James Bond film 'Thunderball" had its American premiere in New York City...
    The movie had its world premiere on December 9th in Japan? and in the United Kingdom on December 29th...
    On the day the movie premiered in N.Y.C. Tom Jones' "Thunderball" was at #41 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; just under a month later on January 16th, 1966 it peaked at #25 {for 1 week}...
    {See second post below}...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyConcerning the next post below; this appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' was the fourth time during 1965 that Tom Jones performed on the Sunday Night CBS-TV show...
    His debut on the 'Sullivan' show was on May 2nd when he sang "It's Not Unusual", and then on June 13th he was back to do "It's Not Unusual" again, plus he also did "Whatcha Gonna Do"...
    And his third time on the show during 1965 was on October 3rd, when he sang "With These Hands"...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 5th, 1965, Tom Jones performed "Thunderball" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Six days later December 11th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #25 and it spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #10 in Canada and #35 in the United Kingdom...
    Was the 3rd of 12 soundtracks for James Bond movies composed by John Barry...
    R.I.P. Mr. Barry (1933 - 2011), Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974), and Mr. Jones, born Thomas John Woodward, will celebrate his 74th birthday this coming June 7th.
see more comments

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