Tragic news as composer of legendary James Bond theme music dies

Bond, James Bond on his majesty’s secret service

James Bond Image: Piotr Zajac/

The composer of the famous James Bond theme music has died.

Monty Norman, a prolific composer who wrote the James Bond theme for the 1962 movie Dr No, passed away at the age of 94.

Norman was commissioned to compose the theme to the first James Bond movie in which the fictional spy was portrayed by Scottish actor Sean Connery.

Movie producer Cubby Broccoli hired Norman to write the film’s score after enjoying Norman’s work on Belle, a stage musical based around American murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen.

Born Monty Noserovitch in Stepney, East London on April 4, 1928, Norman was evacuated from the UK capital during World War 2 but returned to his hometown during the Blitz.

He went on to become a singer, with is track ‘False Hearted Lover‘ becoming an international success, before then moving into composing.

Norman composed hits for a host of megastars including Cliff Richard, Bob Hope, Count Bessie and Tommy Steele.

The Londoner started to compose for the theatre and found instant success when his English version of the 1958 French play Irma la Douce was nominated for a Tony Award.

Norman went on to win the Ivor Novello Award for his work on Songbook, and claimed the now-named Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical his work on 1982’s Poppy.

It is for his composition for the first James Bond movie for which he is best known, with his work used throughout the movie series.

The theme was born and reworked from one of his earlier compositions,  Bad Sign Good Sign, originally created for a later abandoned production titled VS Naipaul’s A House For Mr Biswas. 

Norman elected to change the main riff to an electric guitar in order to give it the Bond-spy sound for which it was later internationally known.

“His sexiness, his mystery, his ruthlessness – it’s all there in a few notes.,” Norman said of his Bond theme.

The Bond theme went on to be rearranged by John Barry, with Norman winning £30,000 in libel damages in a court case in 2001 against the Sunday Times after the newspaper claimed he had not composed the guitar section. 

His former wife, the actress Betty Coupland, gave evidence on behalf on Norman in the court case where she said that the Sunday Times article in question was “blatantly untrue.”

Norman received just shy of £500,000 in royalties for his work on the Bond theme and its use in the franchise from 1976-1999.

No Time To Die was the most recent instalment of the movie franchise in which Daniel Craig reprised his role as the British secret agent James Bond for the fifth and final time. 

An official announcement as yet to be made on who will take up the role next, although a report in June 2022 stated that The Wire and Luther actor Idris Elba could be in line to become the next James Bond actor.

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Written by

Tom Hurley