Monty Norman, the composer behind the iconic James Bond theme, has died at the age of 94.
A statement on his official website said: ‘It is with sadness we share the news that Monty Norman died on 11th July 2022 after a short illness’.
Norman is most famous for composing the score for the 1962 Bond film Dr No, and the instantly recognisable piece of music which became the theme for the entire franchise.
Born in the East End, Norman first served in the RAF where he discovered a passion for singing.
In the 1950s and 1960s, he performed with big bands, including those for Cyril Stapleton, Stanley Black, Ted Heath, and Nat Temple.
He and funnyman Benny Hill later took a joint variety show on the road, taking turns in the headline slot based on whether the town they were in preferred comedy or music.
He went on to turn his hand to composing, including songs for Sir Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Count Basie, and Bob Hope, as well as writing lyrics for musicals such as Make Me An Offer and Expresso Bongo.
The James Bond theme came in 1962 with the release of Dr No, starring Sean Connery as 007.
However, the producers were not happy with Norman’s arrangement and drafted in a young John Barry to rearrange the piece.
It was recorded in 1962 using five saxophones, nine brass instruments, a solo guitar and a rhythm section.
Barry – whose own credits include Out Of Africa, Born Free and Midnight Cowboy – later claimed it was actually he who had written the theme but Norman won a libel action against The Sunday Times for publishing a similar allegation.
The theme was then used in numerous other James Bond films – in the opening credits for From Russia with Love (1963), and then for the end credits for Thunderball (1965), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), and Spectre (2015).
Norman continued to work into the 1980s and beyond with Songbook in both the West End and Broadway winning Evening Standard, Olivier and Ivor Novello best musical awards.
That decade also saw his pantomime-style musical Poppy run for more than a year at the Barbican and Adelphi theatres in London and win a Swet – now the Olivier – for best musical.
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