Monty Norman v. The Sunday Times
The "James Bond Theme" Lawsuit
Thanks to everyone wrote to me with information and background for this page,
particularly Jack Yan and Andrew Carslaw.
Special Note 1 : I make a point of carefully differentiating between
two songs, "The James Bond Theme" and the "James Bond Theme"
(note the inclusion of The between the parentheses in the former).This follows the convention of the two different songs from the soundtrack to Dr. No.The former was written by Monty Norman and is not in dispute. The latter (the famous one) is the one that Barry worked on.Barry's exact role in the creation of the song has been controversial.
Special Note 2: Warren Ringham reads this and discusses it at length in his "James Bond Theme" episode of The Music of Bond Podcast #2 on James Bond Radio. Ringham is a professional musician who plays in a high-quality tribute band, so he brings a lot of insight and an ability to illustrate what's going on in the narrative; it helps tremendously to hear the pieces of the deconstructed "James Bond Theme" song. I highly recommend listening to it.
This is the story as I understand it:
In 1962, the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was in post-production and in the process of being scored. Composer Monty Norman had written a number of pieces for the film, but the producers were unhappy with what was to be the title theme to the film. They wanted something catchy and interesting. They did not want to use Norman's "The James Bond Theme," nor they did not want to use "Under the Mango Tree" as
the title theme. John Barry, who was a pop star in the UK with his instrumental rock-and-roll band, was brought into the project to help with the new theme.
There the problem begins. Monty Norman has always claimed that he himself composed the "James Bond Theme" and that Barry was simply brought in to arrange the song and give it the Barry sound—something like Barry's "Bee's Knees." Monty Norman has vigorously and successfully defended his credit over the years.
An alternate version of events claims that Barry was actually hired to ghost the
song; that he wrote it for a flat fee and that Norman got official credit because Norman was contracted for the rest of the score.
Barry himself never discussed it directly.His comment is usually (and I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the actual quote available) that if Norman really wrote the song, why wasn't he brought back to score the next Bond movie?
In 1997, The Sunday Times published an article that explained the dispute. Norman filed suit against The Sunday Times for defamation of character, saying that he had been defamed as taking credit (and the royalties) for a song that he never wrote.
The difference between this case and the prior suits appears to be twofold:
- The High Court is hearing the arguments (forgive me, but I'm
ignorant on the structure of the English legal system, so I'm not sure where
this court matches up in the US system).
- Barry himself is in court and will testify.
Monty Norman: Film composer for the film Dr.
No. Credited author of the "James Bond Theme."
John Barry: Film composer for many of the subsequent Bond movies. Hired as an arranger for, and disputed co-author of, the "James Bond Theme."
Diana Coupland: Norman's ex-wife and singer of "Underneath the Mango Tree."
Rina Norman: Norman's current wife.
Laurie Barry: Barry's current wife.
Burt Rhodes: Norman's friend and orchestrator.
Vic Flick: Barry's friend and lead guitar player for the "James Bond Theme."
Harry Salzman: Co-Producer of Dr. No (and many subsequent Bond movies), and producer of the movie Call Me Bwana.
Albert R. Broccoli: Co-Producer of Dr. No (and most of the subsequent Bond movies).
Peter Hunt: Film Editor of Dr. No.
Terrence Young: Director of Dr. No.
Wayne de Nicolo: Lawyer for the defense.
Noel Rogers: Head of Music Publishing for United Artists Music in
London at the time.
John Burgess: A&R man for EMI records at the time.
Dr. Stanley Sadie: Musicologist; expert for the complaintant.
Guy Protheroe: Musicologist; expert for the defense.
Jonpatrick: John and Laurie Barry's young son (not a participant, but briefly mentioned).
Quick Jump to day:
Day 1 Day 2
Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Day 6 Day 7 Summation
Peter Greenhill wrote the following on the John Barry Mailing List (and my grateful
thanks to him for allowing me to post it here). My own comments are in
brackets [ ].
I've attended the Norman v. Times Newspapers case over the last few days and thought you might be interested in a few of my early perceptions.
Firstly to understand what it is really about you need to see the Sunday Times article that is the cause of all the fuss. [See Links section below.]
I went along expecting just to find out where the toilets and coffee room were, not expecting the real action to start until day 2 but ended up sitting in on the whole of the first day.
Legal preliminaries only took 20 minutes the jury was sworn in (eight women, four men generally youngish mostly 30's and 40's plus a couple in their 20's). John and Laurie Barry arrived at about 10:05 (today's start was 10:30). One of the barristers said that he expected it to last for just over a week. Both sides made their opening statements and
at the end of Day 1 we were about part way through Monty Norman's testimony.
Plenty of musical interludes including a couple by Monty Norman who sang a
couple brief clips from "Underneath the Mango Tree" and the song he sang when he proposed to his wife live on TV in 1955. Barry looked deadly serious throughout.
Basically the jury is being asked to consider:
- What does the Sunday Times article say?
- Does the article damage Norman's reputation?
- If it does damage his reputation, is the article true?
- If not true, then how much in damages should Norman be paid?
Part of the case rests on Norman's sensitivity on being called a "little known London musician" and a "pop balladeer," while Barry is called an
"Oscar winning composer." Defense claims this is just stating the truth.
It seems to be agreed that Norman was assigned to write and record the theme by 1st June 62. He failed to meet the deadline after first suggesting "Dr No's Fantasy" and then "Underneath the Mango Tree" (partly Saltzman's choice) both were thought inappropriate. In Norman's contract it said that producers could use another composer if Norman failed to deliver. Barry was called in by one or more of John Burgess, Wolf Mankowitz and Noel Rogers. A Saturday meeting on 9th June 62. Barry was given this "Bad sign, Good Sign" song from an abandoned musical. Norman was in Paris on 12th-16th June. The "James Bond Theme" was recorded on 21st June 62. Norman claims that he as composer worked with Barry as orchestrator on this "Bad Sign, Good Sign" song between 9th-21st June. Barry is claiming that he worked on the "James Bond Theme" alone, disliking Norman's material, writing the whole thing but using ideas from "Bad Sign, Good Sing" in the riff and the start of the
"bebop" section. Even then the defense is stating that there are
differences in speed, number of notes and pitch.
Yesterday we heard the "James Bond Theme" twice, "Underneath the
Mango Tree," "Theme from Beat Girl," opening of "Poor Me" and Dr. No credits on video. Barry looked bloody irritated when
"Underneath the Mango Tree" was played and also when the prosecution took Norman through the details of his career. He looked lacking in humor when Norman sang.
Norman was coming across as a very pleasant likable chap and this may have been
playing well with the jury. However his tone changed today when cross examined by the defense. He became very aggressive in his answering.
During the trial the James Bond Theme has been analyzed in to six sections:
- Vamp: the rhythm underneath the melody. (Sounds like it is based on the intro to Poor Me i.e. Barry)
- Riff: the main guitar melody (based on Norman's "Bad Sign, Good Sign" but there are extra notes and the speed and pitch are different)
- Bebop 1: the first part of the brassy jazz section, contains some elements of "Bad Sign, Good Sign" but again with substantial reworking.
- Bebop 2: the second part of the brassy jazz section. Norman is claiming that this is based on the middle section of "Dr. No's Fantasy" not for the melody but for the feel. This seems to be stretching it even to my non-musical ear.
- Bridge: the connecting piece at the end of the bebop leading to the vamp. Not discussed in detail yet.
- Coda: The end piece. Not discussed yet.
It is important to remember that Norman is claiming that he wrote all of it.
On day 2 Norman gave evidence for the whole of the day and is still not finished. Norman demonstrated how the melody in "Bad Sign, Good Sign" developed after splitting notes into the guitar riff. From Barry's response it was obvious that he thought Norman was talking crap.
Norman continues to be bitter about how the article rubbishes his career and much time has been spent on his achievements in the musical writing business. The problem is Barry is one of the very top film composers. Has Norman ever been one of the very top musical composers, up there with Richard Rogers, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Boubil/Schonberg. I personally think not.
Norman worked for Broccoli and Saltzman one more time on their next film, Call me Bwana writing the theme and this time just a few highlights. Muir Matheson wrote the rest. At the end of the film Norman approached Saltzman for a contract and was told "money!, if you want to talk money we can't do business" and that was the end of his working relationship with Broccoli and Saltzman.
Late in the day came an interesting development. The jury sent a note to the judge asking if they were allowed to know the royalties that Norman has earned from the "James Bond Theme" up to now and what percentage that is of his total earnings. Norman said was this just for the jury (he wished) but was told by the judge that it would be heard in open court. He must gather the info overnight.
I was sitting behind Laurie Barry who was charming and asked who I was writing all these notes for (25 pages so far). I had to admit to being a humble fan who writes on film music discussion lists. She was interested in my view of how the case was going particularly the supposed link between "Dr. No's Fantasy" and the second bebop. She said that John is keen to tell his version of events and has waited 39 years to do so.
There is a lot of fascinating detail in this case and I recommend everyone interested to consult the transcript when it's all over.
John and Laurie Barry were not in court today. Monty Norman arrived looking a little wearier than on the last two days. Not surprising as he was subjected to 5 hours of intensive questioning yesterday and then had to go home and sort out his accounts for info the court required about his royalties from the "James Bond Theme." He gave approximate figures for 12 years.
The royalties are:
Figures before that were in another book at another house. Jump in revenues in 90s is due to CD releases and a surge in popularity of the films. The big jump between 98 and 99 is due to video games such as "Goldeneye." He said that as a proportion of his total earnings the "James Bond Theme" were "very significant."
The issue of the LP release of Dr. No was discussed. The defense is claiming that Norman proposed "Dr. No's Fantasy" as the "James Bond Theme," recorded it but had it rejected by Broccoli and Saltzman. Norman rejects this as a myth (a word that he often uses), saying that he considered "Dr. No's Fantasy" but rejected it himself as it lacked the necessary feel needed for the Bond theme.
On the Dr. No LP the opening track is called "James Bond Theme" (the Bond theme that we all know and love), the penultimate track is called "The James Bond Theme" (a version of "Dr. No's Fantasy.") Norman claims that he had nothing to do with the titles. United Artists Music messed the whole thing up, using very little of his background score (I wonder why) and no less than four versions of "Dr. No's Fantasy." This is a significant piece of evidence IMO.
A magazine article quoting Terence Young as "not liking" "Underneath the Mango Tree," and saying that Norman's score was "Mining disaster music" was put to Norman. He said that Young didn't like Caribbean music and also was not keen on having Sean Connery as James Bond, initially saying that he would be a "disaster, disaster, disaster." According to Norman, with Young everything was a disaster.
It was put to Norman directly that Noel Rogers (Head of Music publishing for United Artists Music in London) had brokered the deal with Barry as a face saving deal for Norman who had run out of ideas for the Bond Theme. Norman rejected this as nonsense. Norman has a diary which has some key dates of events but is unfortunately lacking others. Norman accepts that he put details in his dairy when it suited him.
Norman had asked Burt Rhodes to orchestrate the Dr. No score and claims to have asked Barry to orchestrate the "James Bond Theme" to get someone with standing in the pop world to produce a hit record. (i.e. not Rogers or Broccoli/Saltzman.)
Norman, supported by Burt Rhodes (a really nice man), says that he and Rhodes met Barry at a coffee bar in Denmark Street on Saturday 9th June to give the piano version of the "James Bond Theme" for Barry to orchestrate. Defense is saying that this meeting was to discuss Call Me Bwana.
The case took a nasty turn when Norman accused Barry of being very happy to let myths about who wrote the Bond theme propagate and that Barry believes his own publicity and that is what happens if you live in Hollywood (Barry lives in New York state!). Yesterday Norman had showed his unpleasant side when he mentioned that Barry had gone to a weekend work session at Norman's Essex house with a "Scandinavian girl."This was not relevant to the case and was designed to cause embarrassment to Barry with his wife in court.
A major discussion was had about an interview in Music�From The Movies [magazine]. In the original version Norman had denied that his original "James Bond Theme" had ever been recorded. However when Norman was checking the article he removed this section. If true the consequence could well have been that the producers had rejected that version. Defense argues that Norman decided it unwise to have falsehoods in print. Norman said that Music From the Movies was a minor magazine and he was not sure if it was still in circulation.
The defense is claiming that the vamp comes from the� Barry intro to "Poor Me." Burt Rhodes said that it could have been based on Artie Shaw's "Vamp" 1939 or Kurt Weil's "Lonely House" and these were played and do have very similar vamps.
Day 4 started with evidence by the ex-Mrs. Norman, Diana Coupland (now Diana Miller). She is particularly well know in UK for her role in the ITV comedy series Bless this House with Sid James. She was also a singer early in her career. She married Norman in 1956 and they divorced in 1975. Mrs. Miller used to help Monty when he was working on scores and often sung the women's part. Monty always discussed his scores with here. His method was to produce a theme, then alter it and produce a top line ready for orchestrating. She said that Burt Rhodes would produce a piano version of music ready to be passed on to an orchestrator. It is her voice that is used in "Underneath the Mango Tree," sung by Ursula Andress as she steps out of the sea in her first scene in Dr. No. She said that the song was used in another Bond film (in fact, OHMSS [for about two seconds]) but she wasn't paid for that. She said that Monty did not write the "James Bond Theme" in Jamaica when they were there on location in January-February 1962 but that he was thinking about it. He then said that he had an idea to use the "Bad sign, Good Sign" song from The House of Mr. Biswas abandoned musical. Eventually John Barry was brought in to orchestrate. She said that at that time Barry was not very widely known. Barry and Norman met once at Norman's flat. She clearly remembers making them tea/coffee and the leaving them to work. She could hear Monty singing and playing the piano. She knew that it was Monty because it was very good (!!!). There was a later meeting at Norman's country house when Barry arrived with a "pretty Scandinavian girl". She said that the Producers were happy with Monty's music. They had used some of Monty's score for a later film (From Russia With Love). When rumors started that Monty had not written the "James Bond Theme" he was initially amused, then irritated, and on one occasion he had spoken to his solicitor about them matter. When she read the article she was angry and phoned Monty to say that she would happily give evidence if Monty took legal action. She said that before making her written statement she had not discussed the evidence with Monty because "there was no need to."
When cross-examined she said that "Dr. No's Fantasy" was Norman's first stab at "The James Bond Theme" but she doesn't recall it being presented to the producers. She said the she and Norman had always got on well with the producers during the making of Dr. No and so she assumed that they were happy with what Monty was producing. She was not present when Barry's role was discussed. The defense said that the weekend country house meeting had nothing to do with Dr. No because on Saturday 9th June, Rhodes/Norman meets Barry to give him piano version of Dr. No. Norman in Paris from Tuesday 12th June. Arrived back in London late on Saturday 16th June. The "James Bond Theme" was recorded for soundtrack on Thursday 21st June at CTS. Therefore meeting at country house was likely to have been a social visit or in connection with Call Me Bwana.
Mrs. Miller said that she was certain that there were two meetings between Barry and Norman. She also said that on one occasion Monty gave her an envelope to deliver to Barry's flat she was rehearsing nearby. Defense said that it was not likely to be music manuscript as Norman could only write music in a very basic way. At this point Mrs. Miller responded like the good pro that she is. She stated that Paul McCartney and Irving Berlin used similar composing methods and that "Mr. Barry did not write 'White Christmas!'"
The next witness was Rina Norman, Monty's current wife since last October, though they have had a relationship since March 1995. Rina is a Probation Officer and independent social worker. She said that she and Monty had been out on the evening of 11th October 1997. On their way home they picked up a copy of the next day's Sunday Times at a garage. When they got home Rina went to bed and Norman stayed up a while to read the newspaper. At 0200 she awoke and noticed that he still had not come to bed. He was in the sitting room. He looked pale and was stooped he looked crumpled and was totally devastated. He said, "read this." The next day there were several phone calls including Burt Rhodes, Diana Miller and Stanley Black. The article has cast a dark shadow over the last 3 1/2 years and has never for one moment forgotten the Sunday Times article. She said that her husband has great pride in the "James Bond Theme" and that she has encouraged him to fight for what's right although obviously she has no personal knowledge of the events of 1962.
Each side had a musicologist to give evidence. Their role is to consider the "James Bond Theme," "Bad Sign, Good Sign," "Dr. No's Fantasy," and various Barry compositions, and to consider the similarities and relationships between them.
Some of this evidence is quite technically challenging for a non- musician like myself and, I suspect, several of the jury.
The first to be called was Dr. Stanley Sadie for the prosecution. Dr. Sadie was a music scholar at Cambridge and went on to do postgraduate studies there. He was Professor of Music at Trinity College of music and was a music critic for
The Times for 17 years. He is a member of the editorial board of the US Journal of Musicologists and specializes in 18th century music, but also considers jazz, rock, etc. Dr. Sadie broke the "James Bond Theme"'s 60 bars down into sections:
1-4 The Vamp - 2 repeated bars
5-10 Guitar riff -2 bars repeated twice
11-12 last two bars of riff- striking semitone descent
13-20 Repeat of Riff - but with a slight trombone variation (only on recording)
21-24 Repeat of vamp
25-28 Bebop1 4 bar phrase
29-32 bebop 1 repeat of 25-28 except last two notes are different
33-40 bebop 1 repeat o 25-32
41-42 bebop 2 - beginning of riff in modified form. i.e. melody is related to the riff
43-44 41-42 repeated
45-46 Central climax to bebop2
57-60 ends with the coda which is related to 25-28
Dr. Sadie said that the fundamental idea in the "James Bond Theme," the riff (i.e. 5-10 13-18 41-44 49-54) is derived from "Bad Sign, Good Sign." The main idea in the central section is also derived, with modified intervals, from "Bad Sign, Good Sign" (i.e. 25-26, 29-30 33-34 37-38(with more sinister feel.)
Not derived from "Bad Sign, Good Sign" is the Vamp but vamps tend to be common property. The "James Bond Theme" vamp is, according to Burt Rhodes, "Number 49 in the arranger's handbook."
Dr. Sadie relates 11-12, the last two bars of the riff (declining semitone), to two guitar chords at the end of the middle section of "Dr. No's Fantasy." This is highly controversial.
Out of 50 bars (excluding vamp), Dr Sadie considered 10 bars not to be derived from "Bad sign, Good Sign":
Bebop 1 - 8 bars - the answering phrase
Central Climax to middle section - 2 bars 45-46
Sadie said that the style of the orchestration is found in the earlier work of John Barry but that the "James Bond Theme" is "more striking" than his earlier work. He thinks that there is no new theme of Barry's in the work but that the arrangement is "extreme."
Sadie is saying that the riff and bebop1, the parts that most obviously originate from "Bad Sign, Good Sign" are of fundamental importance to the "James Bond Theme." The fundamental idea is Norman's and he is the prime composer.
Under cross examination, Sadie said that he had just examined the music and was making no assumptions about what had happened in the process of producing the "James Bond Theme." He says that Barry had arranged and a bit more. The court was played parts of Barry's "Bee Knees" and "Beat Girl" to which Dr. Sadie accepted that Barry was the originator of a particular sound. During Dr. Sadie's evidence, the legendary Vic Flick arrived in court. Vic played the riff on the original recording of the "James Bond Theme" as used on the soundtrack of Dr. No and Vic Flick's guitar sound has been a key element of the Bond films for nearly 40 years. A list of some of his credits can be found at his web site www.vicflick.com.
Dr Sadie was the final witness for the prosecution.
The first witness for the defense was John Burgess. He was A&R man for EMI during the era of the John Barry Seven in the late 50s and early 60s. His job was to find talent for EMI and find suitable material for them to record and set up the recording sessions. He had worked for 8 to 9 years with Barry and had been involved with 15 singles and several albums. Burgess had been involved in the re-recording at EMI in July 1962 of the "James Bond Theme" for single release, but was not involved in the recording for the Dr. No soundtrack. He says that he had no involvement with Monty Norman at all. He said that he did not recommend Barry to be the arranger of the "James Bond Theme." Two years ago Norman phoned him and asked did he remember Norman playing and discussing tapes with him. Burgess said that he could not recall any such meeting. He said that Barry had never suggested to him that he had written the "James Bond Theme." Burgess said that he himself thought that Norman had written the "James Bond Theme" because it was Monty Norman who name was on the credits for the Bond films.
The next witness was Wayne de Nicolo. His evidence started on Day 4 and was completed on Day 5. He is a solicitor for the Sunday Times. Part of his job is to gain statements from witnesses, often over the phone. In April 1999 he spoke to Peter Hunt, the editor of Dr. No. Hunt was in California and was asked if he could give a witness statement for this case. Hunt was reluctant to get involved in the case. He said that he was too old, that it was not his dispute and that he didn't want to come back to the UK to deal with the case. De Nicolo took notes of what Hunt said and typed them up. Hunt said that John Barry wrote the "James Bond Theme." Timings were given to Norman (Norman argues that they were late.) Two sessions were set up for the soundtrack recordings. At the first session it was clear that the music wasn't working for the film (dispute: is he talking about the theme or the score or both?) Terence Young said that someone else needed to be brought in because Norman's music was "mining disaster music." Barry's name was suggested and given to Harry Saltzman. Hunt would not sign a witness statement and the prosecution argued that he had a seriously deficient memory. Hunt had thought that the "James Bond Theme" was recorded in Winter when in fact it was June.
Next witness was Vic Flick who told of how he had gone to Barry's flat at the time he was working on the "James Bond Theme" to discuss money with Barry's then-wife, Barbara, who did the accounts for the band. Flick went to Barry's study area where music papers were spread around. He discussed the "James Bond Theme" with Barry, and clearly Barry was aware that this was an important job for him and wanted to get it right. Flick did not know Norman in 1962 and was not aware of "Bad Sign, Good Sign." Vic Flick's diary had 21/6/62 CTS. He thought that there was a few days between the recording and the initial meeting.
Next up, Guy Protheroe: a musicologist for the defense. He had studied music at Cambridge and post-graduate studies at Oxford. He had been a scriptwriter for BBC Radio 3 and was an information editor for that radio station. He was the artistic director of an ensemble and frequently conducted them at concerts. He had been involved as the chorus master for Tommy and had worked on the arrangements and lyrics for Vangelis's score for 1492. He had given opinion on 3,000 cases involving copyright and piracy, including one involving the copyright owners of various songs of Spandau Ballet.
Again no assumptions had been made regarding the process of developing the Bond theme.
He said that the version of the riff heard in "Bad Sign, Good Sign" was not particularly interesting, but the version of bebop1 was more interesting. He said that the vamp may be a significant part of a musical work and that the "James Bond Theme" could be identified from its vamp. He said that "Bad Sign, Good Sign" lacks the energy and impact of the "James Bond Theme." "Bad Sign, Good Sign" is related to the riff and bebop1 only. In his experience the development of a sketch to a fully developed work can give the developer Composer Rights. He agreed with Dr. Sadie that a substantial amount of work had been involved in developing "Bad Sign, Good Sign" to the "James Bond Theme."
The court heard, "Poor Me," "Hit the Road to Greenland," "Beat Girl," "Bees Knees," and "Black Stockings." He said that there was nothing like the "James Bond Theme" in the works of Monty Norman, but the "James Bond Theme" fits naturally into a succession of John Barry's output. Riff emanates from "Bad Sign, Good Sign" but is not the same. He said that John Barry is at least a part of the "James Bond Theme."
Bad news. John Barry was due to testify today but the court was told that he has a form of pneumonia. His ruptured esophagus in 1988 has left him vulnerable to this illness.. His doctor told the court that he might be fit for Wednesday but of course there is no guarantee. The prosecution is particularly anxious for him to testify in person so that they can attempt to discredit his evidence. Even if not fit on Wednesday he could testify on Thursday or Friday. If he can't' testify at all, his witness statement will be read to the court.
John Barry hasn't been seen in court since Tuesday 6th March and has been ill with a form of pneumonia. Thankfully he had recovered sufficiently to give evidence today. He was testifying for nearly 5 hours.
John told the court that because of his ruptured esophagus in 1988, colds and flu could cause him difficulties. John gave a brief summary of his career, how he undertook a correspondence course in arranging and composition and was the only non-American student on the course. He orchestrated for John Dankworth and Jack Parnell but the pay was bad and so he formed the John Barry Seven with three ex-army colleagues and three local musicians. Their breakthrough came when Harold Fielding hired them to accompany Tommy Steele for a summer show at Blackpool and they were also given their own spot in the show. The John Barry Seven had a number of hits including "Walk Don't Run" and "Hit and Miss." Continued playing with the JB7 until around 1963 when his film work and arranging commitments started to increase.
The court heard some of the JB7 hits of the time. An amusing moment came when "Beat Girl" was supposed to be played but instead we heard Monty Norman's "Dr. No's Fantasy." Barry promptly told the court "That's not it."
He has gone on to score 122 films and won 5 Academy Awards and Grammies and Golden Globes.
In 1962 his career on the pop industry was good the group had had hits and his career as an
arranger and composer was beginning to take off. John said that he had recently found his 1962
The first time that he was involved with Dr. No was when he received a phone call from Noel Rogers, head of the publishing arm of United Artists Music in London. Rogers asked Barry to come to a meeting at his office near the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road the next day, a Saturday morning. Barry knew Rogers already as he did most of the music publishers in London. Rogers told Barry that Broccoli and Saltzman had hired Norman to write the whole score but that there had been problems. Barry was told that there had been a recording session earlier in the week that had been very unsatisfactory and the producers and Terence Young the director were very unhappy. Barry's name had been put forward by Noel Rogers. They knew of Barry's successful instrumental sales and wanted him to look at the theme for the main titles that Norman had presented and see what he could do with it. Barry was very ambitious at the time and saw this as a key opportunity. Barry was surprised that Norman had been chosen to score the film as he was basically a song writer rather than a composer of film scores. Barry was told that Broccoli and Saltzman had options on most of the Ian Fleming Bond novels. If Dr. No were successful, more Bond films would be made and that if he could salvage the main theme for Dr. No then he would be employed to compose music for future films in the series.
Barry had not read any of the Fleming novels but was familiar with the cartoon strip in the Daily Mail and knew what Bond was basically about.
After a while, Norman joined Barry and Rogers and after discussion handed Barry a manuscript of "Bad Sign, Good Sign." Barry clearly identified the manuscript in the court document bundle and said that it "was hard to forget."
Barry never heard it played but said that he would take it away to see what he could do. The manuscript was confusing and didn't convey too much. There was no tempo on the manuscript though Barry felt that the Bond theme should be an up-tempo piece. Rogers told Norman that Barry "would do what he had to do." Norman replied, "go ahead I'm not proud." Barry would be paid �250 for his work plus a promise of future work on the series if successful. Norman would receive credit because it was his contractual right. If Barry was unhappy with these terms then Rogers would have to find someone else. Barry was excited by the deal because he trusted his own talent. The meeting broke up and Barry returned home. When he further looked at the manuscript he felt that it was inappropriate for the "James Bond Theme." Nothing leapt off the page, the piece had no excitement. Barry worked on the theme from the Saturday until the following Tuesday when Vic Flick was invited to Barry's flat to work on the guitar sound for the theme. Barry ignored most of "Bad Sign, Good Sign." He took the first two bars and harmonized it and added notes vertically, designed the orchestra, brass, sax, horns—no strings. Electric guitar would play in E minor. Worked on piano manuscript paper to produce the sketch and then on to full score paper. This was then sent to the copyist, George Sallis, who could copy the individual orchestral parts within 24 hours. At this point Laurie Barry was justifiably looking pleased with John's performance.
Barry said that the vamp used in the "James Bond Theme" had been used many times and originated from Artie Shaw's "Nightmare." There was a vamp on the manuscript Norman had given him but the style of it on the recording was due to Barry. He had used similar vamps in "Poor Me" and "Bees Knees." Barry accepted that bars 5-10 of the "James Bond Theme"
(i.e. the guitar riff) originated from two bars in Norman's "Bad Sign, Good Sign." However, they were in a different key and he had added more notes. The Norman bars were just a skeleton to which Barry had added. Bar 5 in particular had been given extra notes to give it more drive and energy. Barry emphasized that apart from the first two bars nothing else had been used from "Bad Sign, Good sign." Barry also said that the sheet music for the "James Bond Theme" was not the same shape as the soundtrack recording. It was Barry's decision to use the electric guitar because the guitar was king at the time and it was essential to use the instrument if the theme was to have a chance of commercial success. Barry said that he wrote the theme in his flat from the time of the Saturday meeting with Norman and Rogers until the following Tuesday when Vic Flick came to work on the guitar sound for the recording. Barry phoned the studio for dates and was given three alternatives.
Barry phoned Sid Margo to organize the booking for the orchestra. The theme for the soundtrack was recorded at CTS on 21st June 1962. Peter Hunt had given Barry the timings based on Maurice Binder's credit title sequence. Monty Norman was not seen after the original meeting in Rogers's office until the recording session. After the soundtrack recording the score for the "James Bond Theme" was handed over to the production company, Eon. (This point is particularly important.)
Barry's diary contains an entry for 8th June saying, "phone N. Rogers." This was a reminder to return a call from him and must have been about the Saturday meeting. The meeting could not have been the next Saturday 16th because Norman was in Paris until late in the day. On 20th June there is an entry in Barry's diary saying "ring M. Norman." Barry thinks that it was to invite him to the following days session at CTS. However, Norman doesn't remember it. In Barry's diary for 21st June is a list of instruments for the session and the names of the musicians. List includes John Scott on sax.
Barry was asked about his work on Saltzman's Call Me Bwana. He said that Norman had phoned him to arrange for the theme "Big Safari" for the film. He was given a manuscript to orchestrate. Barry says that he remembers little of his work on the film, implying that it was a poor film and not something that he has strong memories of.
He was asked if he had met Norman at the Mayfair Hotel where the John Barry Seven were doing a concert. Barry replied definitely not in connection with Dr. No and that the Mayfair Hotel was not a venue that the John Barry Seven would play as they played the wrong sort of music for the place. However, he accepted that he might have met Norman there in connection with Call Me Bwana.
Barry said that he did not attend any in Denmark Street Caf� meeting with Norman and Rhodes in connection with
Dr. No, but did for Call Me Bwana. Barry reaffirmed that Norman and Rhodes in Denmark Street did not give him any sketch of the Bond theme. In fact he had not any meeting with Burt Rhodes on Dr. No. The reconstructed sketch that Rhodes claimed was similar to his and Norman's work that was, they say, given to Barry in Denmark Street is, according to Barry one that contain notes that he had written. Rhodes had said that years later Barry had contacted Rhodes to come to his flat near Harrods and help produce a version of a James Bond title song needed quickly for a demo. Barry recalled no such meeting and said that he had never had a flat near Harrods. Barry said that Norman had given no instructions regarding the Bond theme and had never gone to Norman's flat for working sessions on the "James Bond Theme." He did visit Norman's country house possibly socially during the time of Call Me Bwana.
John was asked about the appearance of the riff melody in parts of the score for Dr. No. Barry repeated that after the 21st June recording session he handed the score over to EON. The score was recorded on 25th-26th June. Rhodes had claimed that the riff melody was put into the score before Barry was ever working on Dr. No and that the first time he had seen Barry's completed score for the "James Bond Theme" was at the score session. Rhodes had said that they had re-recorded it at those sessions. The defense would later claim that, yes, it was re-recorded for the background score based on Barry's notes for the Bond theme on the manuscript given to EON.
Barry first saw Dr. No at the London Pavilion Cinema in Piccadilly Circus on a Sunday afternoon. He was amazed to find his theme "all over the movie."
He called Noel Rogers immediately to say that he had been paid to produce one piece of music for the main titles and yet here it is used all over the film. Rogers said that he expected Barry to phone him. Rogers said that Broccoli and Saltzman were not prepared to pay him more money but he would be used on
From Russia with Love.
Barry was asked about a meeting that he had had with Norman's solicitor in the 70's. He said that Norman was not present but apparently was unhappy with persistent rumors in the press that Barry had written the "James Bond Theme." Barry said that he would gladly apologize in Billboard magazine. On the right side of the page he would put his manuscript for the "James Bond Theme" and on the left he would put the manuscript from Norman that he was given at Rogers's office. Underneath he would write:
I APOLOGIZE. I DID NOT WRITE THE "JAMES BOND THEME."
He never heard from the solicitor again.
Rogers had told Barry that Broccoli and Saltzman knew who had written the "James Bond Theme." They shook hands. John would receive no royalties and no credit but had a promise to work on future Bond films. Barry has never intended to claim for royalties and in the early years never discussed the issue. However, increasingly the press would ask him about the "James Bond Theme" situation. He used to deny that he had anything to with it but gradually accepted the truth when it was put to him in interviews. If Monty Norman's music had been so successful why was he not employed on future Bond films?
John Barry was asked, "did Monty Norman write the 'James Bond Theme?' "
His reply was, "absolutely not."
Cross examination: Mr. Price, the prosecuting barrister, took Barry through a sequence in a deliberate attempt to cause confusion leading backwards from the recording session.
- 21/6 CTS recording
- 20/6 copyist
- 19/6 Vic Flick to flat for guitar sound.
- 18/6 working
- 17/6 working
- 16/6 Meeting with Rogers
Barry said that he thought this was accurate. Price pounced. Norman was in Paris until late on 16th. He could not possibly have met Rogers and Norman on the 16th. Barry had already established that the meeting was on 8th. But the prosecution were dealing with a man who had been ill for a week with pneumonia and was probably dosed up to the eyeballs with antibiotic and other medication. The prosecution knew all too well how to operate in these circumstances. This was an awkward moment but the defense barrister questioned Barry near the end of his testimony to prove with reference to his diary that the Rogers meeting was on 9th June. Barry was asked what time of day was his phone call with Rogers. Barry said that he couldn't remember. Price replied that he couldn't remember the time of day and yet can remember the sequence of events with Rogers clearly. Barry replied that he was at that time anxious to break into film scoring and that it was the thing he was most passionate about. He also said that people have selective memory. Some events stick in the mind more than others and Rogers calls and meeting were remembered because they were significant to him.
During the afternoon of Barry's testimony the public benches were packed for the first time during the trial.
There was another problem when John was asked about the royalties for composing the " James Bond Theme." In court Barry said that he would never challenge Norman's right to receive royalties. Apparently this clashed with his witness statement where he said, "I never agreed that Norman should have royalties."
The prosecution said, "if you are confused about royalties then you are confused about everything."
The prosecution then mentioned two letters sent by Barry's solicitors at the beginning of the case threatening Norman with a claim for all royalties to the Bond theme unless Norman withdrew his libel action against the
Sunday Times. Inevitably Price went in heavy on this issue.
I am assuming that Barry's illness had prevented the Sunday Times legal team from going through these documents with him so have avoided these own goals.
[the following is courtesy Geoff Leonard:]
Another great report, Pete, even though I saw the action with you I couldn't have recalled it all. I'm not going say too much at this stage, as you have a lot more to add, I know. But I will say that I felt the defense's case weakened considerably, late on in the day.
I felt that Barry's written witness statement had not been properly checked over by the defense prior to its submission.
Consequently, he was contradicting himself live in court on many occasions, was questioned repeatedly about this by the prosecution and was often unable to explain himself. This must have been noted by the jury. I could have looked over his statement and sorted out 95% of any likely trouble spots before he signed it. They knew I was available but didn't bother to ask, apart from a couple of dates, which is incredibly stupid and a little arrogant of them, in my view.
Call me pessimistic, but I really can't see any hope for the Sunday Times now, but they have themselves to blame if they lose. Barry did his best but was let down. At times he came over like a man who hadn't been properly briefed and had difficulty in understanding questions even from his own side! Even the discovery of his own 1962 diary was used against him in the end, to prove a date discrepancy. On the plus side he didn't swear (apart from "Jeesus") and only shouted occasionally.
Laurie said they were very grateful for the (visible) support from Pete and myself, and we were joined by Don & Shirley Black, Philip Masheter (from "Rare Discs") "Dave" from the Leicester Square Odeon and Brian Protheroe, the musicologist.
More tomorrow when I'll add a few comments to whatever Pete writes. Barry faces about another hour of
cross-examination tomorrow and then they are driving straight to Heathrow to catch the first flight back
to New York. They are clearly missing Jonpatrick very badly. Laurie told me it's the first time she's been
separated from him since the day he was born.
Submitted to the Jury
[Back to Peter Greenhill:]
The closing statement for the Sunday Times was masterful and much better than the prosecution, which was boring and consisted of a lot of reading of large sections of the transcript.This morning the judge summed up for 2-1/2 hours and then the jury retired to consider their verdict at 13:05. By 16:30 there was no decision and the court was told by the jury's spokesperson, a woman possible in her late 20's, that there was no chance of a decision in the near future. Therefore the jury were sent home for the weekend and instructed to return on Monday morning at 10:00. The judge indicated that initially he wants a unanimous verdict but may accept a majority if it was not possible, but would give details later. There is no time limit on their deliberations and so a good book might be need next week.
This afternoon all interested parties, excluding the judge, watched Dr. No on video while waiting for a verdict!
[by James Ollinger:]
After four hours of deliberation, the jury found for Monty Norman and awarded him �30,000£ (approx. $45,000) damages and costs.
Links and Resources
Summary article from The Daily Telegraph.