The James Bond Theme

Album: The Film Music of John Barry (1962)
Charted: 13
  • songfacts ®
  • Film composer Monty Norman originally wrote the theme music to the first James Bond film Dr. No, then John Barry arranged it. Barry recalled in the London Times August 1, 2008 that he got a call from Noel Rogers of United Artists music. He said: "There are these two guys called Saltzmann and Broccoli and they own the rights to the James Bond stories. I said: 'I only know Bond from the Daily Mail comic strip. He said: 'That's all you need to know.' They wanted a theme – two minutes long."

    Barry added: "I remember standing in line at Piccadilly to see Dr. No. And the theme was all over it. Every time he said, 'The name's Bond,' it went 'dung-dug-a-dung-dung'. They paid me £250! Noel said: 'Oh God, I'm sorry, I'll try and get you the next Bond score – it might become a series.'"
  • Norman claimed in the documentary Inside Dr. No that his original music was inspired by the song "Good Sign Bad Sign." The song originally featured in a stage musical that he composed A House for Mr Biswas.
  • John Barry described his arrangement of the theme in an interview with NPR as "A peculiar mixture of that low rock guitar figure, the brass sound, and a bridge that was almost like a Dizzy Gillespie bebop phrase. It was kind of a hybrid of all these things I was involved with at the time. I didn't give it too much thought, and it just came out like it did.
  • Vic Flick, who was one of the top session musicians in England, played guitar on this track. He told Songfacts he had no idea the theme or the James Bond franchise would take off the way it did. Said Vic: "When John Barry and I first got involved with the Bond films, the producers were scraping the barrel for money. They had completed the film, had no money for much of the post production and nobody wanted to release Dr. No. The Americans had no interest in a British Spy and the British weren't that interested either. Then they got a small release contract and the film took off. The rest is history. The Bond theme was constructed from a little song that Monty Norman came up with. His idea wasn't what Eon Films wanted so they asked John Barry to arrange this musical show type song into something dynamic. Within about eight days we were in the studio and recording the title. No film to see, just another recording session - even though it was heavily featured. The session finished with everybody smiling and here we are 50 years later still talking about it."
  • The same year this was released, Quincy Jones issued a fanciful instrumental called "Soul Bossa Nova," which became the theme song to the Austin Powers movies, a spoof on the James Bond films.
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Comments: 3

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenNorman probably lived off the royalties from that tune for the rest of his life. At least, I hope he did, because he scored very little else.
  • Don from Willoughby, OhAnd the rest is history.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, Canorman and barry fought over who wrote this little ditty even went to court over it...well, whoever did really write it..
    it's a genius riff!
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