The first James Bond song: Underneath the Mango Tree

This is the year that the franchise James Bond turns 60 years old. That’s right, Dr. No hit theaters in 1962.
Let’s talk more about the movie, but first, the music. In that first film, that’s when we discovered the James Bond theme, written by Monty Norman and orchestrated by John Barry. Therefore, it has yet to establish the open credits trademark with a song performed by a pop artist in vogue at the time. Which doesn’t mean the film doesn’t have a song of your own. In this case, Underneath the Mango Tree.

It’s the song that we see Ursula Andress wearing the classic white bikini and Sean Connery – literally – singing to the franchise’s first “Bond Girl”.

But, before that scene, the song plays on the radio when James arrives in Jamaica to investigate Dr. No. That’s when he meets his good friend, Felix Leiter.

We hear the song again soon after, in one of the scenes where James waits and surprises whoever wants to kill him at the bungalow. Thus, we can say that Underneath the Mango Tree is the first of the James Bond songs and was performed by singer and actress Diana Coupland, who was not credited at the time.

Betty Diana Coupland, who never used her first name professionally, wanted to be a classical dancer, but a horseback riding accident when she was young ended her dreams. She started singing at the age of 15, becoming a professional singer just 3 years later. In the 1940s and 1950s, she was one of the most sought-after singers, voicing (non-singing) stars such as Lana Turner in Betrayal, in 1954.

In 1962, she recorded Underneath the Mango Tree, for the film Dr. No. At the time, she was married to the composer, Monty Norman. The two were together for 20 years and had a daughter. Monty wrote the song for the film after traveling to Jamaica for inspiration for the soundtrack. There, Monty met Byron Lee, who helped him with the songs and appears in the feature, as one of the musicians who appear at the nightclub. Diana, who accompanied her husband on the trip, collaborated recording the main song, but not being credited. (She also sings Kingston Calypso on the soundtrack.)

Diana’s testimony was pivotal years later, as Monty and b battled over who actually wrote the James Bond theme. Diana, already separated from Monty, confirmed that the theme was effectively written by her ex-husband.

Diana remarried in 1980 and died in 2006, aged 78, as a result of heart problems. 60 years later, it’s our credit and tribute to the first James Bond song.

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