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94-Year-Old Monty Norman, Composer of 007 Theme Song, Has Died

Art94-Year-Old Monty Norman, Composer of 007 Theme Song, Has Died

Monty Norman, the composer whose tune about a sneeze became the “James Bond Theme” died on Monday in Slough, a suburb of London, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 94 years old.

According to his family’s website, he died as a result of his injuries received while being treated in the hospital.

His musical theatre writing credits include such plays as “Expresso Bongo,” “Irma la Douce,” and others. Mr. Norman started his career as a vocalist, but by the late 1950s, he had established himself as a well-known musical theatre writer and composer. Albert Broccoli, a prolific film producer, was one of the show’s producers for “Belle, or the Ballad of Dr. Crippen,” which he created the music for in 1961.

The film rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond books had been bought by both Mr. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, according to Mr. Norman’s recollection. He was approached by Mr. Broccoli and asked if he would be interested in doing the music for the first film, “Dr. No.” Mr. Saltzman offered him and his family an all-expenses paid vacation to Jamaica, the location of the movie’s filming, as an inducement for signing on, even though he was unfamiliar with the novels.

On the BBC’s The One Show in 2012, Mr. Norman said, “That clinched it for me. At the very least, we’d be able to enjoy a vacation in the sun, sea, and sand if the James Bond picture fails.

According to an interview with The New Yorker that was published in 2011, the composer was having trouble coming up with the topic until he recalled an unproduced tune from a musical rendition of the book “A House for Mr Biswas” that he and his regular collaborator Julian More had worked on.

Played the number that he had always loved to himself in the bottom drawer of his dresser, he claimed. He “separated the notes” to create a more staccato feel for what became what he called the theme song’s renowned guitar riff, which had an Asian influence and relied largely on sitars in the original (which started with: “I was born with this unfortunate sneeze”).

It was then that he realised, “My God, that’s it,” as he put it.

On October 5, 1962, “Dr. No” had its debut in London. The Beatles’ debut song, “Love Me Do,” was released on the same day as the Bond theme, but the Bond tune also attracted the public’s attention. When it came to “Dr. No,” Luke Jones, music producer and host of podcast “Where is MY Hit Single?” thought the theme was well suited to the film and the series.

Since it is a simple tune, children have been singing it at the playground for decades, according to him. Finally, there’s a jazzy swing-era brass section with all the glitz and glitter of a Las Vegas hotel and casino.

The John Barry Seven recorded a rendition of the theme song that was published as a single and quickly rose to the top of the UK charts. However, the debate was not yet finished.

He arranged Mr. Norman’s theme when he was just beginning a lengthy career of making music for the movies, but he didn’t try to discredit the idea that he wrote it.

Norman sued the Sunday Times of London over a 1997 piece that gave credit to Barry and downplayed his own. At trial in 2001, he told the jury that the story had “rubbished my entire career.'” He was given 30,000 pounds by the jury. In 2011, Mr. Barry passed away.

In London, Monty Noserovitch was born to Abraham and Ann (Berlyn) Noserovitch on the 4th of April, 1928. A cabinet maker’s son, he grew up with a mother who embroidered clothing for little girls.

His mother bought him a guitar when he was 16, and he once studied the instrument with Bert Weedon, whose “Play in a Day” handbook would encourage a generation of rock guitarists to follow in its footsteps. In a backhanded remark, Mr. Weedon reportedly said, “As a guitarist, you’ll make a terrific vocalist,” according to a biography on Mr. Norman’s web site.

A big band singer, Mr. Norman began performing in large bands and variety shows in the early 1950s. He sang alongside Stanley Black, among others. Eventually, he began creating songs later in the decade, which led to his employment in the theatre of musicals. He collaborated with Paul Scofield on “Expresso Bongo,” a satirical look at the music industry produced in England in 1958.

More teamed with David Heneker on an English-language translation of a long-running French theatrical production called “Irma la Douce,” which premiered on Broadway in 1960 with Peter Brook’s directorial touch. A total of seven Tony Awards were given to this production, including best musical.

Another Broadway attempt by Mr. Norman failed miserably. He and Mr. More created “The Moony Shapiro Songbook,” a musical spoof that was performed on Broadway by Jeff Goldblum and Judy Kaye. When it opened in 1981, it stayed open till the next day.

In the end, Mr. Norman’s marriage to Diana Coupland broke down. One of his children from his previous marriage, Shoshana Kitchen, as well as two stepchildren, Clea Griffin and Livia Griffiths, and seven grandkids are all that remain of his first wife, Rina Norman, who he married in 2000.

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