Monty Norman

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monty Norman (born 4 April 1928 in London) is an English singer, lyricist and composer of musicals and film scores. He became internationally known for composing the track Bad Sign, Good Sign, which was rearranged as an instrumental track by John Barry to become the James Bond film score from James Bond Chases Dr. No. The James Bond Theme became the acoustic trademark of this film series.


Norman was born in the Eastend of London to Jewish parents. Norman’s father was an immigrant from Latvia. He was evacuated from London during the Second World War and later served as a teenage aid in the National Service of the Royal Air Force, where he became interested in singing.

In the early 1950s and 1960s Norman was a singer in the big bands of Cyril Stapleton, Stanley Black and Ted Heath, and also appeared in various variety shows alongside well-known acts such as Benny Hill, Harry Secombe, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Harry Worth, Tommy Cooper, Jimmy James, Tony Hancock, Jimmy Edwards and Max Miller. One of his songs, False Hearted Lover, even achieved international fame.

In the late 1950s, Norman also shifted more and more to composing. He also wrote songs for artists Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Count Basie and Bob Hope, as well as lyrics for theater productions, such as the musical Make Me An Offer (the English version of the musical “Irma La Douce”) or Expresso Bongo (which was later called the first rock ‘n’ roll musical) and later also for films, which also include the science fiction classic The Daythe EarthCaught Fire (1961), the horror film Beat 12 in London (The Two Faces of Doctor Jeckyll, 1960) and the film comedy Bob on Safari (Call Me Bwana, 1963) with Bob Hope.

Monty Norman’s best-known single track is probably the “James Bond theme” from the first film in the series. There have already been two lawsuits over authorship in which Norman was awarded authorship. In the DVD documentary Inside Dr. No, Norman sings the first verses of a song he had written years earlier for a stage production, which already has echoes of the James Bond theme in various passages (see chapter Completing The Circle).

Since 2004, Norman has been working on an autobiography entitled A Walking Stick Full of Bagels, as well as a musical setting of the novel Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and a remake of his 1970 musical Quick Quick Slow.

Completing The Circle

In the fall of 2005 Norman released a double CD of his older and newly written songs under the title Completing The Circle. Of particular interest are the five tracks on the second CD, all of which are musically related to Norman’s work for Dr. No. Norman has here for the first time released the original version of the James Bond theme, the song Bad Sign, Good Sign, which as mentioned above served him as a template for the famous theme. On the album, the piece is heard as he had written it for the never-realised musical A House For Mr Biswas. The commercial success of Completing The Circle remained modest, as the album’s producer Gerry Bron stated on request.


  • Christian Wiedmer: “You know, people tend to forget that.” On the 80th Birthday of Monty Norman. In: D-007, Issue 9 II. (2008). S. 28–31.

Web links

James Bond