The James Bond Theme

(Monty Norman & John Barry)

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared

Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)


Marc De Bruyn (, September 7, 2003

In 1962, the first Bond movie, "Dr. No", was in post-production and in the process of being scored. Composer Monty Norman had written a number of pieces for the film, but the producers were unhappy with what was to be the title theme to the film. They wanted something catchy and interesting. They did not want to use Norman's "The James Bond Theme", nor they did not want to use "Under the Mango Tree" as the title theme. John Barry, who was a pop star in the UK with his instrumental rock-and-roll band (the John Barry Seven, famed for such early-'60s UK hits as their cover of the Ventures' "Walk, Don't Run" as well as "Hit and Miss", which served as the time to the BBC television series "Juke Box Jury"), was brought into the project to help with the new theme.

There the problems began. Norman has always claimed that he himself composed the "James Bond Theme" and that Barry was simply brought in to arrange the song and give it the Barry sound. Norman has vigorously and successfully defended his credit over the years. An alternate version of events claims that Barry that was actually hired to ghost the song; that he wrote it for a flat fee and that Norman got official credit because Norman was contracted for the rest of the score. Barry himself never discussed it directly; his comment was usually that if Norman really wrote the song, why wasn't he brought back to score the next Bond movie? In 1997, The Sunday Times published an article that explained the dispute. Norman filed suit against The Sunday Times for defamation of character, saying that he had been defamed as taking credit (and the royalties) for a song that he never wrote.

Monty Norman began his career as a singer with the leading British big bands of the late 50s and early 60s (Cyril Stapleton, Stanley Black, Ted Heath) and graduated to being a solo performer on stage, records and television; he wrote pop songs for himself and other artists. A string of musicals followed, including the long-running London and Broadway show "Irma La Douce" (1960, which received a Broadway Tony nomination, filmed in 1963). His many film scores include "Call Me Bwana" (1963, with Bob Hope), "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" (1962), and "The Two Faces Of Doctor Jeckyll" (1960). The "James Bond Theme" of "Dr. No" (1962) became the "signature tune" for all subsequent Bond movies, and one of the most successful movie theme tunes of all time: it has over 500 recordings and has sold over 25,000,000 records (Monty was given a special Ivor Novello Award for this unique achievement). His songs have been sung and recorded by innumerable American, British and European artists including Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Frank Sinatra, Moby and Count Basie. He also has television and commercials credits. In 1989 Monty received from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (BASCA) the highly coveted Gold Badge of Merit, for Services to British Music.

Barry stayed with the Bond series for nearly three decades, subsequently producing material for many more Bond outings, including 1963's "From Russia With Love", the following year's "Goldfinger" and 1967's "You Only Live Twice", each launching a hit theme record for, respectively, Matt Monro, Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra. He scored virtually every entry until "The Living Daylights" (1987). Barry won his first Academy Award for his score to "Born Free" (1966) and later was Oscar-nominated for his work on "The Lion in Winter" (1968) and "Out of Africa" (1985). American films that have benefited from the Barry touch have included "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), "Shampoo" (1975), "The Deep" (1977), "Body Heat" (1984), "Dances with Wolves" (1990), "Indecent Proposal" (1993).



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