RIP Monty Norman, songwriter behind the James Bond theme
The composer behind one of the most iconic film themes in history has died, with Variety reports that Monty Norman—composer of the James Bond theme—died earlier today “after a short illness”. This news was confirmed by its official website, which contains no additional details. Norman was 94 years old.
Norman was the composer of 1962 Dr. Nothe first film in the still-ongoing James Bond series and one that essentially created – or at least entirely crystallized – an entire genre. Dr. No introduced some now-iconic Bond intro tropes, like the main character (Sean Connery in that initial appearance) seen through a gun barrel and the stylized intro sequence, but one of its most crucial introductions was that of the Norman theme.
The vaguely surf rock tune that Norman originally wrote and performed at the Dr. No the producers were later rearranged by composer John Barry for the film’s actual score, with Barry introducing the jazzier big-band version we know today. Barry went on to compose 11 James Bond scores, but when he tried to claim he had written the real theme in the 90s, it sparked more than one legal battle led by Norman – who won, leaving hold him back sole songwriter credit on the theme, and he has received royalties on its use since the 1960s.
Norman later released an album, Complete the circlewhich featured his “James Bond Theme” as well as “Dum Di-Di Dum Dum”, a new take on the theme which introduced lyrics about how he wrote the song and told the story of “Good sign, bad sign” a song he had composed for a musical adaptation of the novel A house for Mr. Biswas (the book is set in Trinidad and Tobago and Nortman interprets some of its lyrics with an… ill-advised accent).
Outside of the James Bond series, Norman was a big band singer and wrote songs for musicals like make me an offer, Espresso Bongoand the hit English adaptation of the French musical Irma the sweet.