We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

James Bond composer Monty Norman passes away at 94

The man behind the distinctive electric guitar rhythm in the James Bond theme, which has been used in 25 movies across 60 years, has died

Sean Connery as James Bond

The man behind some of the most famous movie music of all time – the James Bond theme – has passed away, aged 94. The opening bars of the theme are instantly recognisable and iconic, and it has been used in 25 Bond movies across 60 years.

We can all picture the opening of a Bond movie in our mind’s eye – a man in a suit emerges at the end of the barrel of a gun, he turns and shoots towards the camera/gun, and red blood seeps down the screen. The trumpets then come in to play the opening big brass jazz band section, followed by distinctive rhythm of the guitar motif – which is what composer Monty Norman wrote.

The theme was arranged by John Barry, and he added the jazz melodies played by saxophones and other brass instruments. This has led to claims that Barry wrote the theme. Norman has received royalties for writing the theme since 1962, and won a libel case against The Sunday Times in 2001 because they claimed that Barry wrote the theme.

Norman called his distinctive guitar rhythm “dum di-di dum dum” and it was based on an earlier song he had written called Good Sign, Bad Sign. He also wrote Underneath the Mango Tree, the song that is playing when Ursula Andress emerges from the sea in a white bikini – one of the most iconic Bond moments of all time.

You can watch the opening titles to Dr. No – the first Bond movie – below. Note that the man who shoots the gun is not Sean Connery – it was actually a stuntman named Bob Simmons. He wears a hat, which is not something we associate with Bond.

Since Daniel Craig bowed out of the franchise with No Time to Die, the hunt is on for the next Bond. It seems as though everyone has thrown their hat into the ring, and everyone has ideas as to who can take up the mantle. At the moment, we’ll just have to stay tuned for more news…