Monty Norman, James Bond Theme Music Composer, Dies at 94

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Monty Norman, a composer best known for having written the musical score to 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 on Monday after a short illness.

Norman was also a singer in the 1950s and would eventually turn to stage musicals, writing lyrics for shows such as “Make Me an Offer” and “Irma La Douce.”

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Born in London, Norman began his career playing in big bands and by the late ’50s had a successful career as a composer and lyricist for the stage, including the Broadway and West End production of “Irma La Douce” that was Tony nominated, as well as “Express Bongo” and “The Art of Living.” But he received attention and financing from 007 producer Cubby Broccoli for a show in 1961 called “Belle.” The show was a failure but led to Norman partnering with Broccoli for the James Bond Theme.

Norman wrote the iconic theme music for “Dr. No” and recruited the up-and-coming John Barry to arrange it and give it a fresh sound. He would also write several other songs and the instrumental score featured in “Dr. No,” including the song “Under the Mango Tree” that appears as Ursula Andress makes her first appearance in the film coming out of the water onto the beach.

But Barry would later claim that 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 they ran a piece that disputed whether or not Norman was the true composer. He would win his libel cases in 2001.

Some of Norman’s other credits include for film the theme song to the Bob Hope movie “Call Me Bwana” from 1960, “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.”

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