Monty Norman, composer of James Bond-themed music, dies at 94
Monty Norman, a composer best known for writing the musical score for the James Bond theme that first appeared in “Dr. No,” has died. He was 94.
Norman’s death was announced in a statement on his website that he died Monday after a short illness.
Norman was also a singer in the 1950s and would eventually turn to musicals, writing lyrics for shows such as “Make Me an Offer” and “Irma La Douce”.
Born in London, Norman began his career playing in big bands and by the end of the 1950s had a successful career as a composer and lyricist for the stage, including the Broadway and West End production of “Irma La Douce” which was nominated by Tony, as well as “Express Bongo” and “L’Art de Vivre”. But he did receive attention and funding from 007 producer Cubby Broccoli for a show in 1961 titled “Belle.” The show was a flop but resulted in Norman teaming up with Broccoli for the James Bond theme.
Norman wrote the iconic theme music for “Dr. No” and enlisted the up-and-coming John Barry to arrange it and give it a new sound. He would also write several other songs and the instrumental score featured in “Dr. No”, including the song “Under the Mango Tree” which appears as Ursula Andress makes her first appearance in the film emerging from the water on the beach.
But Barry would later claim he was the sole author of the James Bond theme, leading to a lawsuit in 1997 in which Barry sued the Times London for libel after publishing a piece that disputed whether or not Norman was the real composer. . He would win his libel suits in 2001.
Some of Norman’s other film credits include the theme song to Bob Hope’s 1960 film “Call Me Bwana”, “The Day The Earth Caught Fire”, and “The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll”. And he also worked on stage productions for shows such as “Pinocchio”, “Stand and Deliver” and “Quick, Quick, Slow”.