Monty Norman, Composer Behind Iconic James Bond Theme, Dead at 94

by Megan Molseed

Monty Norman, one of the most iconic people in the music business, and the mind behind one of the most well-known film themes of all time, has passed away. The British composer is famous for creating the compelling theme driving every single James Bond film franchise.

Norman passed away Monday, July 11 after a brief illness, the composer’s official website notes. Monty Norman was 94 years old.

Monty Norman Agreed To Create The Iconic James Bond Theme After The Promise Of A Jamaican Get-Away Came Into Play

When producer Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman obtained the rights to the James Bond story, they knew exactly who they wanted to call on to create the theme music for the upcoming spy-thriller. Monty Norman had worked with Broccolli on the musical Belle. And, the filmmakers knew immediately that Norman’s brand of suspenseful music compilations were perfect for 007.

And, to make the deal even sweeter, the producers offered to fly Norman and his wife, actress Diana Coupland to paradise to record the theme song. According to the composer’s website, the “clincher” for him was when he and his then-wife were given a trip to Jamaica. The very spot where the 007 Dr. No production was filming.

“Well, that was the clincher for me!” Monty Norman quipped on his website of the life-changing moment. “I thought, even if Dr. No turns out to be a stinker, at least we’d have sun, sea and sand to show for it!”

Monty Norman Finds His Love Of Music Early In Life; Performing With Comedian Benny Hill Before Moving On To His Career As A Composer

Monty Norman was born Monty Noserovitch on April 4, 1928, in London. When Norman was just 16 years old, he got his first guitar, a Gibson. Norman then went on to perform with various big bands.

The composer also performed with the iconic comedian Benny Hill in a popular double act. Eventually, however, the musician found his love in composing, initially writing for British performers Cliff Richard and Tommy Steele.

From the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Norman worked on a variety of musicals such as Irma La Douce. This musical found a 5 1/2 year-long success off-Broadway before hitting the big time on Broadway. Later, Shirley McLaine starred in a film this production of the popular play.

Norman also worked on productions such as Expresso Bongo, Make Me an Offer, and The Art of Living. Norman was honored during the Olivier Awards for his work on Songbook in 1979.