John Barry

Now, that Monty Norman rubbish.  John Barry appeared on the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday 7th September 2006 and said:

“I had done one or two small budget movies up until then but not much else, and I said ‘I only know James Bond from that [comic] strip in the Daily Mail’ (editors note: it was the Daily Express). He said ‘well they’ve got Monty Norman’ and I said ‘well Monty can’t write, can he? He’s a song-writer of sorts’. He replied ‘well he’s written a song for the movie and they want you to do it’, so I said ‘well I write the song as well’.

So I wrote the song with Don Black, but we couldn’t get credit because of the legal thing – [Norman] was signed to do the movie. I think I got £125 and I think Don got the same. We recorded the first Bond theme and Lionel Bart went to see the movie and he said ‘ere! Monty Norman never wrote that!’ and I said ‘he was signed to do the movie, I came in at the last minute’, I know he never wrote it but I said ‘if they continue, if this is a success, and we go on then I’ll do the rest of the movies, that’s my shot.'”

Norman sued the Sunday Times over an 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. 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.”

The truth is that Norman came up with some of the notes for the song, the bare melody line which recurs but Barry then made it into the theme world famous today. It’s as if someone wrote the da-da-da-da of Beethoven’s 5th but Beethoven did the rest. As Barry received no credit whatsoever for this, it’s a bit rum and one would think Norman might have been more gracious but no. Anyway, I didn’t run it in this post because Norman might sue again.

6 comments for “John Barry

  1. March 28, 2010 at 21:58

    I have just been listening to a John Barry disc whilst enjoying my dinner 🙂

  2. dearieme
    March 28, 2010 at 23:50

    I’ve just been seduced into whiling away half an evening youtubing Zulu. It really was very good, wasn’t it?

  3. March 29, 2010 at 03:42

    Cherie – you can do worse.

    Dearieme – certainly was.

  4. Terry Walstrom
    March 29, 2010 at 14:51

    One has only to listen to the Main Title to the British film BEAT GIRL to hear what is substantially John Barry’s sound of the early 60’s which he infused into the James Bond Theme.
    Monty Norman’s website presents Norman’s own demonstration of hist contribution to the James Bond melody. The result gives you the best reason imaginable why Dr.No’s producers sought out somebody else!
    John Barry was, indeed, hired for subsequent films and Monty Norman’s career evaporated overnight.
    Had anybody truly believed Norman was the go to man for film themes is there any doubt of the outcome career-wise?

    • March 29, 2010 at 18:31

      Agreed, Terry. That court judgment must have puzzled JB mightily but he was a bit to blame for not conceding at least the melody line. If the paper had conceded that, then the judgment might not have gone against them. But as you say, in the end, one only needs listen.

  5. Peter Greenhill
    March 29, 2010 at 18:43

    The problem was that the Sunday Times article said that Barry wrote the whole theme so in defending the article, Times Newspapers had to stand by that statement. Norman had only to convince the jury that he wrote some of the theme to win.

    If he, Norman, had to convince a jury that he wrote all of it, the outcome might have been different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.