Monty Norman, famous for composing the theme song to James Bond, died aged 94 on July 11. His family confirmed his death to the BBC and on its official website. “It is with great sadness that we share the news that Monty Norman passed away on July 11, 2022 after a brief illness,” read the statement, which features a large black and white photo of the composer sporting a frank smile.
The British composer created the soundtrack for the film James Bond 007 against Dr No in 1962. Crowned with success, his James Bond theme was then used for the other parts of the saga of the famous spy 007. The original creation of this iconic theme was not spared from controversy. In 2001, Monty Norman obtained 35,000 euros in damages from the Sunday Times, after the newspaper had wrongly attributed authorship of the soundtrack to its arranger, John Barry. Created for the first film in the saga, the version of Monty Norman’s music had indeed not convinced the producers, who had asked John Barry (died in January 2011), monument of film music (Macadam Cowboy, Out of Africa), to retouch it. The latter then claimed authorship of the work. But in March 2001, Monty Norman won his libel suit for an article published in October 1997.
Monty Norman was born in east London to a Jewish family that left the British capital in the early days of the Blitz at the start of World War II. He got his first guitar at the age of 16, given to him by his mother, and discovered the Beatles and Eric Clapton. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he sang for jazz bands, including those of Cyril Stapleton, Ted Heath and Nat Temple, and performed at variety shows.
Alongside entertainer Benny Hill, Monty Norman hits the road, taking turns headlining depending on whether the city they’re in is comedy or music. He then began to compose, and wrote songs for Cliff Richard and Tommy Steel, one of the pioneers of rock in the United Kingdom, as well as for musicals, such as Make Me An Offer and Expresso Bongo.