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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 14:25 GMT
Bond theme writer wins damages
Monty Norman
Monty Norman: Libel case victory
Composer Monty Norman has been awarded 30,000 libel damages by a High Court jury over an article which said he did not write the James Bond theme.

The Sunday Times always said that they were only interested in the truth - well, now they've got the truth

Monty Norman
Norman had sued the Sunday Times over the article in October 1997 which claimed John Barry actually wrote the distinctive twanging guitar tune - first heard in the 1962 film Dr No, starring Sean Connery.

It was described during the two-week court case in London as "one of the most famous pieces of music in the world".

Mr Norman said afterwards: "I am absolutely delighted - and vindicated. The Sunday Times always said that they were only interested in the truth. Well, now they've got the truth."

Sean Connery
Sean Connery began his Bond career with Dr No
He was present in court when the jury announced its unanimous verdict after some four hours' deliberation.

Mr Norman had told the court that the article, with the title "Theme tune wrangle has 007 shaken and stirred" had effectively "rubbished" his whole career.

Times Newspapers faces a costs bill unofficially estimated to be well in excess of 500,000.

A spokesman for The Sunday Times said: "This was always going to be a difficult case for a jury given the complexities of the expert musical evidence."


The court heard that apart from Dr No, Mr Norman was credited with stage and film songs such as Expresso Bongo, Songbook and Poppy.

He has won Ivor Novello, Evening Standard and Laurence Olivier awards.

Mr Norman's counsel, James Price QC, said the article damaged his client's reputation by suggesting he had dishonestly passed himself off as the creator of the Bond theme for 35 years.


Mark Warby, for Times Newspapers, denied libel and said the newspaper article was neutral, sensibly balanced and a classic example of a report and comment piece on a live dispute.

He said the article reported only that Mr Barry was claiming to have written the tune.

John Barry
The Sunday Times alleged Barry composed Bond tune

Mr Warby said Mr Barry had been brought in six months into the project to create a more memorable tune, because Mr Norman had run out of inspiration.

Mr Warby added: "In short, it was composed by John Barry with some input from an idea by Monty Norman."

Giving evidence, Mr Barry said that the producers of Dr. No Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli had been "unhappy" with Mr Norman's efforts at a theme tune.

Flat fee

Mr Barry said that a deal was struck whereby he would receive a flat fee of 250 and Mr Norman would receive the songwriting credit.

Mr Barry said that he had had never challenged the registration of the songwriting credit with the Performing Right Society and had no intention of doing so.

He had accepted the deal with United Artists Head of Music Noel Rogers because it would help his career - and it was a "terribly good deal because the whole Bond thing took off."

Mr Barry composed soundtracks for many other Bond films as well as Born Free, Zulu and Midnight Cowboy.

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05 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Composer sues over Bond theme 'slur'
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