James Bond theme composer Monty Norman passes away at age 94
Monty Norman, a British composer, best known for composing the iconic theme song for the James Bond film franchise, passed away recently. He was 94 years old.
The following is an excerpt from a statement that was published on Norman’s official website on Monday: “It is with sadness we share the news that Monty Norman died on 11th July 2022 after a short illness.”
Norman was given his first guitar when he was 16 years old. He was given the name Monty Noserovitch when he was born in 1928 in the East End of London to Jewish parents.
Before writing songs for early British rockers Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele and composing for stage musicals such as “Make Me an Offer,” “Expresso Bongo,” and “Poppy,” he was a performer with big bands and in a variety of double act with comedian Benny Hill.
Producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli approached Norman about composing a theme for the first James Bond film, which was titled “Dr. No” and was released in 1962. Norman accepted the offer.
He took inspiration from a composition that he had previously created for a potential musical adaptation of V.S. Naipaul’s “A House for Mr. Biswas.” Still, he played the key riff on electric guitar instead of sitar. The resulting sound, which may be described as twangy, propulsive, and menacing, can be heard in all 25 James Bond movies.
To Norman’s dismay, the producers hired composer John Barry to modify the theme, and as a result, Barry became widely believed to be the one who had written it. Barry, who passed away in 2011, went on to create music for roughly a dozen different James Bond films, some of which include “Goldfinger” and “You Only Live Twice.”
In order for Norman to defend his authorship, he brought a libel lawsuit against the Sunday Times newspaper in 1997, which had stated in an article that Barry was the one who composed the theme. He triumphed in the case in 2001 and was granted 30,000 pounds in compensation for his damages.