BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 5 March, 2001, 19:39 GMT
Composer sues over Bond theme 'slur'
Monty Norman
Monty Norman says he wrote the Bond theme tune
The man credited with writing the distinctive James Bond theme music is suing a newspaper over claims he was not the real composer.

The High Court in London heard Mr Norman took exception to an article in the Sunday Times claiming Oscar-winning composer John Barry wrote the tune.

The famous soundtrack was first heard with the release of the 1962 film Dr No.

John Barry
The Sunday Times alleges John Barry composed Bond tune

Times Newspapers denies libel and is arguing Mr Barry - who was present at the proceedings - is the true author of the work.

Mr Norman's counsel, James Price QC, told the jury the newspaper claimed the famous tune owed nothing to Mr Barry except a short piece of a much-altered melody line.

He also said The Sunday Times did not back up its claim that Mr Norman was a "little known and unsuccessful musician.

Award winning

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 Price said the article damaged his clients reputation by suggesting he had dishonestly passed himself off as the creator of the Bond theme for 35 years.

'Fair discussion'

Mark Warby, for Times Newspapers, said the jury might think that Mr Norman, was being "unduly sensitive" about the comparison with Mr Barry and his success.

Sean Connery was James Bond in Dr No
Sean Connery starred as James Bond in Dr No

He said the article was a fair discussion of a topical subject and was written in a balanced and sensible way.

Mr Warby suggested to the court that the reason for the writ was because of Mr Norman's over-sensitivity because his career had peaked in the 1960s.

He said: "Mr Norman knows that credit for the composition is due to Mr Barry but he denies it and has given a false account of things.

'Spinning the truth'

"Everyone agreed that Mr Barry had a role in creating the theme but Mr Norman says that he was nothing but the orchestrator or the arranger.

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

A deal was struck whereby Mr Barry, then an unknown, would write the theme for a flat fee and Mr Norman would get the credit and the royalties.

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

"The fact is Mr Norman is twisting and spinning with the truth and worse."

The trial continues.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

19 Nov 99 | Shaken Not Stirred
The James Bond dossier
22 Nov 99 | Entertainment
London greets Bond, James Bond
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories