How Much Was Monty Norman, Composer Of The James Bond Theme, Worth When He Died?

The song is unmistakable — the original James Bond movie "Dr. No" opens with a gunshot, followed by a cacophonous blast of saxophones and brass instruments (via YouTube). In 1962, Sir Sean Connery made his debut as James Bond, the English spy, and the theme song has become a defining feature of the series, reports the Metro. The song would be featured in eight more 007 movies, even "Sceptre," the most recent Bond flick released in 2015. The composer of the iconic spy theme was Monty Norman, who died on July 11, 2022, at age 94.

Yahoo!News reports that Norman had a passion for music from a young age. He started playing guitar as a teen, and later, he took up singing while he was serving in the Royal Air Force. By the 1950s, Norman began performing with other musicians. But, Norman's big break was when producer Cubby Broccoli asked him to compose the theme song for a new movie to be released in 1962. Norman agreed to create the theme song and the score for "Dr. No," the first-ever James Bond movie.

The lasting success of the James Bond theme

Monty Norman assembled a band of brass musicians, guitar players, and saxophone players after composing the song, the Metro reports. The song's success is legendary, and Norman earned thousands of dollars in royalties from 1976 to 1999, per Yahoo!News.

Metro UK reports that after Norman wrote the Bond theme, he had another musical hit in the 1980s. The musical "Poppy" won the "Best Musical" Olivier award, and was enjoyed by audiences during its year-long run.

In 1997, the Sunday Times had written a story about Norman that claimed he hadn't written the famous tune, and that John Barry had been called in to fix an unworkable score in 1962, according to The Telegraph. Barry claimed that he was offered a small flat fee for overhauling the song, and was told Norman would still receive the credit — and royalties — for the song.

The successful libel lawsuit against a newspaper

Monty Norman took offense to the idea that a song that had defined his career for four decades wasn't actually his creation, reports The Telegraph. And in 2001, Norman sued the Sunday Times newspaper for libel. After the jury deliberated, he won his case. The jury agreed with Norman that he was indeed the theme's creator and composer, and awarded him £30,000 ($45,000), according to CNN.

Estimates of Norman's net worth at his time of death vary greatly. Net Worth Post estimates he was worth about $400,000 at his time of death, while Apumone suggests the net worth could be as high as $5 million. Regardless of his net worth (which was certainly bolstered by the longevity of his royalty checks), Norman's famous tune will always be remembered as one of the most iconic melodies to ever grace the silver screen. Perhaps that is worth more than any amount of money.