Monty Norman, Composer of Iconic James Bond Theme Song, Dies at 94

Legendary composer Monty Norman has passed away. Norman, who wrote the theme song for the James Bond movies that has been featured in all 25 installments, reportedly died at the age of 94. A brief statement was posted to his official website announcing that Norman died on July 11 after suffering a brief illness.

Monty Norman was born Monry Noserovitch in London on April 4, 1928. By the 1950s and 60s, he had pursued a music career by singing with bands for Cyril Stapleton, Stanley Black, Ted Heath, and Nat Temple. He could also be seen performing on variety shows with other name stars such as Benny Hill, Peter Sellers, Jimmy James, Tony Hancock, Jimmy Edwards, and Max Miller. He also composed music for performers like Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, and Bob Hope. Norman would also compose and write lyrics for musicals such as Make Me and Offer, Irma la Douce, Expresso Bongo, Songbook, and Poppy.

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His film work includes The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and Call me Bwana. But he is perhaps best known for the enduring theme song he crafted for the James Bond movie series. He wrote the signature “James Bond Theme” and scored the first movie, Dr. No. John Barry would rearrange the theme and the tune has been used in all 25 Bond films, including the most recent Daniel Craig movie No Time to Die.

“We recognized we needed a fresh, contemporary sound for the main theme, and in the up-and-coming young John Barry we found a wonderful arranger, so the whole thing worked very well,” a quote from Norman states on his website.

At one point, publishers claimed that Barry had actually written the theme, and this prompted Norman to take the matter to court to prove otherwise. Norman sued the Times of London for libel over a story disputing that he was the composer. He was awarded 30,000 pounds by a London High Court jury.

Monty Norman Was Happy to Be Known for Composing James Bond

Because the James Bond movie series would become one of the most successful of all time, Norman has long been associated to the films. In that situation, some musicians might grow frustrated from the constant questions about the movies, but that wasn’t the case with Norman. In a 2012 interview with Scotsman, the composer noted how he has since received the Gold Badge of Merit for services to British music along with nominations for awards like the Ivor Novello, Laurence Olivier, Tony, and Golden Globes.

But that didn’t make him the slightest bit resentful about the James Bond Theme. Disputing that he would resent having this association to James Bond for so many decades, Norman said, “You can’t possibly be resentful of it. People in the business who know me know what I do. For everyone else, that’s the way it works. And that’s OK.”

At this time, our thoughts go out to Norman’s family and friends. May he rest in peace as his legacy lives on.