NORMAN, MONTY

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


(London, April 4, 1928–     ): Top British composer who, for Dr. No, arranged all of the wonderful Jamaican calypso music (“Three Blind Mice,” “Jump Up,” and “Under the Mango Tree”) that served the film so well. And, of course, he is credited with composing the James Bond theme—although history shows that another composer, John Barry (then of the pop group the John Barry Seven), augmented Norman’s original theme with the plucked guitar signature that has since become world famous.

Norman began his career as a singer with the leading British dance bands of the late 1950s and early ’60s and graduated to solo performer on stage, records, and television. He wrote pop songs for himself and other artists, and when his stage musical Expresso Bongo (1958) became a West End hit, he abandoned his singing career to become a composer. A string of stage musicals followed, including the long-running Make Me an Offer; The Art of Living; Belle; Quick Quick Slow; Songbook, which won the Evening Standard, SWET (Laurence Olivier), and Ivor Novello Awards for Best Musical, and a Tony nomination for Best Book; Poppy, which brought him yet another SWET Award for Best Musical; and Pinocchio, his first children’s musical. His film works include the songs for The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960); the beatnik music in The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961); the score for Call Me Bwana (1963), produced by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; and the lyrics in Irma La Douce (1963). Norman’s songs have been recorded by scores of top British, American, and European artists, including Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Shirley MacLaine, Bob Hope, Mantovani, and Count Basie. His many television credits include Against the Crowd (1975) and Dickens of London (1976). In 1988, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors (now the Ivors Academy) honored him with the highly coveted Gold Badge of Merit, for services to British music.