Monty Norman, the UK songwriter who penned the famed melody, passed away at the age of 94
British composer Monty Norman, who was best known for the iconic James Bond theme, died on Monday at the age of 94, according to a statement posted to his official website.
“It is with sadness we share the news that Monty Norman died on 11th July 2022 after a short illness,” the release read.
Norman, born Monty Noserovitch, was hired by producer Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli in 1962 to write a theme for ‘Dr. No’, the first James Bond film. His composition, which he’d originally written for a proposed musical adaptation of the VS Naipaul novel ‘A House for Mr. Biswas’, has been used in all 25 films featuring the fictional British super-spy.
While Norman wrote the Bond theme, producers hired another composer, John Barry, to rearrange it and deploy it in the scores of nearly a dozen more Bond films. Confusion in the media over who had actually written the tune led Norman to sue the Sunday Times newspaper for erroneously crediting Barry in a 1997 article. Norman won the lawsuit in 2002, receiving £30,000 ($35,710) in damages.
Norman also wrote songs for stage musicals, including ‘Expresso Bongo’, ‘Make Me an Offer’, ‘Poppy’, and ‘Songbook,’ and composed the score for the 1963 Bob Hope comedy ‘Call Me Bwana’. He even received an Olivier Award and Evening Standard Award in 1979 for his work on ‘Songbook’. However, in a recent comment he acknowledged that the Bond theme would forever overshadow any other achievements.
"Well, I hope when the time comes people will remember that I’ve done quite a few things, but the fact that James Bond is so iconic in everybody’s mind – you can’t argue with that and nor would I want to," Norman said.
The late composer is survived by his second wife, Rina Caesari, and his daughter.