Obituary: Monty Norman, composer of the instantly recognizable James Bond theme tune

Monty Norman, who died aged 94, was the composer of the James Bond theme; It was originally written for Dr No, the first film in a series based on Ian Fleming’s books, but Norman had to fight through the courts to maintain ownership of his music.

e was working on 5 musicals when Cubby Broccoli invited him to join the Bond group. Broccoli is one of the supporters Belle, a program by Norman was unsuccessful. But Broccoli was impressed by the music and he and Harry Saltzman, the producer, invited him over to chat at their Mayfair office.

Norman recalls: “He said they had just bought the rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and were going to turn them into a movie. “The first thing would be Doctor no?and do i want to score? “

Norman was initially reluctant as he was doing two other theatrical shows, but was convinced when Broccoli suggested that he and his family visit Jamaica for three weeks, all expenses covered. paid, during filming.

What began as “an Indian little song”, as Norman called it, evolved into the popular tune. “From the moment I did that, I knew I had a James Bond theme,” he said. “I wanted the character, the mystery, the atmosphere and it was all there.”

But things started to go bad when Melody Maker suggested Norman bought the James Bond soundtrack from a Jamaican musician for $100. “I was told this was defamation and I should do something about it,” he said. To confuse matters, the producers, who by some accounts were unhappy with Norman’s orchestra, asked John Barry to rearrange the score. Over the years, Barry, who wrote the music for subsequent Bond films, became more and more attached to the popular theme that Norman’s role was forgotten.

In 2001, Sunday Times published an article titled “The Theme Tone Indignant When 007 Shakes and Stirs”, accusing Norman of not writing the theme. He sued for defamation, won and was awarded damages of £30,000 (€35,380) plus costs in excess of £500,000.

Born Monty Noserovitch in Stepney, east London, on April 4, 1928, he was the only child of Abraham, a cabinet maker who had fled Latvia as a child, and his wife, Annie. He recalled his parents had moved out of his grandparents’ house and into their own motel room, where the landlady’s son let him play the guitar. “I remember the thrill,” he said of the first time he picked up the guitar.

The family moved to St Alban’s, a suburb of London, where he joined the army cadet. “We used to give concerts and I suddenly realized I had a voice,” he said. Soon he was studying guitar with Bert Weedon, who rose to stardom in the 1950s and 1960s, joined the radio show and was soon invited to join Cyril Stapleton’s band as a singer.

He has appeared at the London Palladium with the Ted Heath Orchestra, participated in a series of variety shows with Benny Hill and performed with Tony Hancock and Tommy Cooper. During the 1950s, his hobby turned to song writing. He wrote ‘False Hearted Lover’, and when it became a hit, he gave up singing altogether.

Irma La Douce, the first West End musical he worked on, was a huge success, and received seven Tony Award nominations. It is followed by Expresso Bongoled to the 1959 film starring Cliff Richard.

In 1989, the British Academy of Musicians, Composers and Authors awarded Norman a gold medal of merit; he also received a special Ivor Novello Award in recognition of his work on Bond themes.

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In the late 1950s, Norman married Diana Coupland, the singer and actress who starred on the 1970s sitcom. Bless this house; they had a daughter. That was dissolved in 1980 and he went on to marry Rina Caesari.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022] Obituary: Monty Norman, composer of the instantly recognizable James Bond theme tune

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