Composer Monty Norman, who notably created the iconic James Bond theme, has passed away at 94 years old. His family confirmed the news. Norman began in the entertainment industry as a singer, working for bands like Cyril Stapleton, Stanley Black, Ted Heath, and Nat Temple. His vocal talents took him to variety shows as well, where he shared the stage with stars like Benny Hill, Spike Milligan, Jimmy Edwards, and others. It was in the late 1950s where Norman would shift towards composing. He scribed lyrics for musicals like Make Me an Offer and Irma la Douce before creating the score for Dr. No, the first James Bond film.
"[Dr. No producer] Cubby Broccoli rang me and asked me to come to his office to meet his new partner, Harry Saltzman," Norman said on BBC1's The One Show. "He said, 'We'd just acquired the rights of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, and we're going to turn them into films. The first one is going to be Dr. No. Would you like to do the score?' I'd heard of James Bond, but I'd never read them."
Within Dr. No's soundtrack was "James Bond Theme," the immortal tune that has accompanied 007 in seven different decades. Norman birthed the theme out of one of his previous works, "Bad Sign, Good Sign." That composition was written for VS Naipaul's A House For Mr. Biswas, but that production never saw the light of day. Norman would take the foundation of "Bad Sign, Good Sign," re-write it for the spy, and the rest is history.
"I went to my bottom drawer, found this number that I'd always liked, and played it to myself," Norman said. "I thought, 'What would happen if I split the notes?' And immediately, the moment I did that, I realized this is what I was looking for."
Beyond Bond, Norman's composition work received critical acclaim throughout the 20th century. Songbook, a musical co-written and composed by Norman, was nominated for a Broadway Tony and would go on to win an Ivor Novello Award for Best British Musical in 1980. Poppy, a musical comedy composed by Norman, won the SWET Award for Best Musical in 1982.
Specifically in film, Norman composed music for The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and Call Me Bwana throughout the 1960s. Norman also brought his music talent to television miniseries Dickens of London.