The composer behind one of the most iconic movie themes in history has died, with Variety reporting that Monty Norman—composer of the James Bond theme—died earlier today “after a short illness.” That news was confirmed by his official website, which doesn’t have any additional details. Norman was 94.
Norman was the composer on 1962’s Dr. No, the first movie in the still-running James Bond series and one that essentially created—or at least fully crystalized—an entire genre. Dr. No introduced now-iconic Bond intro tropes, like the main character (Sean Connery in this initial appearance) being seen through a gun barrel and the stylized intro sequence, but one of its most crucial introductions was that of Norman’s theme.
The vaguely surf rock-style tune that Norman wrote and originally presented to the Dr. No producers was later rearranged by composer John Barry for the actual score of the film, with Barry introducing the jazzier big-band version we know today. Barry went on to compose 11 James Bond scores, but when he tried to claim that he wrote the actual theme in the ‘90s, it prompted more than one legal battle led by Norman—who won, letting him retain sole songwriter credit on the theme, and he received royalties on its use since the ‘60s.
Norman later released an album, Completing The Circle, that featured his “James Bond Theme” as well as “Dum Di-Di Dum Dum,” a new take on the theme that introduced lyrics about how he wrote the song and told the story of “Good Sign, Bad Sign,” a song he had composed for a musical adaptation of the novel A House For Mr Biswas (the book takes place in Trinidad and Tobago and Nortman performs some of his lyrics in an… ill-advised accent).
Outside of the James Bond series, Norman was a big band singer and wrote songs for musicals like Make Me An Offer, Expresso Bongo, and the hit English-language adaptation of French musical Irma La Douce.