Monty Norman, a British composer who composed the iconic James Bond theme song, has died, at the age of 94.
"It is with sadness we share the news that Monty Norman died on 11th July 2022 after a short illness," said a statement posted on Norman's official website.
Norman composed the score for "Dr. No," the 1962 James Bond film starring Sean Connery. His theme for James Bond, as arranged by fellow Englishman John Barry, would go on to become the theme for the entire franchise, reports Variety.
He was born in 1928 in Stepney in London's East End, sang in bands during the 1950s.
His first wife Diana Coupland, who sang the original "Under the Mango Tree" on the "Dr. No" soundtrack, died in 2006.
He is survived by his second wife, Rina Caesari, and a daughter.
Norman once said on his site, "We recognised we needed a fresh, contemporary sound for the main theme, and in the up-and-coming young John Barry we found a wonderful arranger, so the whole thing worked very well."
Decades later, Barry claimed authorship of the theme, resulting in Norman suing the Times of London for libel over a 1997 story ("Theme Tune Wrangle Has 007 Shaken and Stirred") disputing Norman's contention that he was the true composer.
A jury in London's High Court ruled in Norman's favour in 2001, awarding him 30,000 pounds plus court costs. Norman later said he felt vindicated by the decision.
Norman was a former big band singer who turned songwriter in the late 1950s. Producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, an investor in Norman's short-lived 1961 musical "Belle," called him to accompany the team headed to Jamaica in January 1962 to shoot "Dr. No."
Norman wrote the songs heard on the "Dr. No" soundtrack, including "Under the Mango Tree".
The James Bond Theme would only emerge months later as Norman struggled to write the dramatic score later in London.
As he often later said, he adapted a tune he'd written for an unproduced musical based on V.S. Naipaul's "A House for Mr. Biswas." The song "Bad Sign, Good Sign" (which he sang on an album many years later with sitar accompaniment) contained the seeds of the Bond theme.
Barry became involved when the filmmakers, including director Terence Young and editor Peter Hunt, felt they needed a harder-hitting, commercially viable theme than they heard at the score recording sessions.
Barry came in, beefed up the arrangement to incorporate a twangy guitar (from his John Barry Seven rock 'n' roll days) and a jazzy midsection, and recorded a fresh, exciting version of the Bond Theme that became a hit single in England after the movie's release in the fall of 1962.
Barry took over musical direction on the Bond films starting with the second one, "From Russia With Love," in 1963. Norman was never asked back, although his theme continued to be used as 007's musical signature in every subsequent film.
He won England's prestigious Ivor Novello Award from the Performing Rights Society in 1977 for the theme, which now ranks as one of the most recognised pieces of movie music ever.
His songs were also heard in the 1958 London stage musicals "Make Me an Offer" and "Expresso Bongo," the latter reprised in a 1959 film version.
His later stage musicals included the 1979 "Songbook," which won an Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Award and an Ivor Novello as best new musical along a later Tony nomination for best book in the short-lived 1981 Broadway revival; the 1982 "Poppy," another Olivier award winner as best musical; and a 1988 version of the Pinocchio story.
In 1989 Norman also received the Gold Badge of Merit for services to British music from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (BASCA).
In recent years he was often seen on British television regaling audiences with his story of writing the Bond theme and how proud he was to have contributed 007's musical.