Recently discovered materials give new insights into the 007 theme song Live and Let Die, involving Paul McCartney. The title song for the 1973 Roger Moore classic, was a big hit. Seems like a massive misunderstanding exists behind the song, which the recently discovered archive material explained.
The story told by McCartney and the former Beatles producer George Martin has all been about. How Paul almost got replaced on the track. But it is inconceivable that the James Bond producers wanted to replace Paul with another singer. It’s an old tale by now, that the producers of Live and Let Die wanted a female singer and not Paul.
A little bit of insight behind the song…
Back in 1973, Paul revealed, “I read the Live And Let Die book in one day, started writing it that evening and carried on the next day and finished it by the next evening. I sat down at the piano, worked something out and then got in touch with George Martin, who produced it with us. Linda wrote the middle reggae bit of the song. We rehearsed it as a band, recorded it and then left it up to him.”
Paul also talked about his love for the James Bond film series. He also reported that he was approached to contribute music to the 1971 movie ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ but couldn’t. When the new film was in production, he agreed to write the song for the film.
According to faroutmagazine, McCartney and Wings recorded the song at the end of the sessions for 1976’s ‘Red Rose Speedway’. The article also shed light on how the production company’s producer Harry Saltzman hoped for singer Shirley Bassey to record the final version. But Paul objected to it.
“The film producers found a record player. After the record had finished they said to George, ‘That’s great, a wonderful demo. Now when are you going to make the real track, and who shall we get to sing it?’ That’s when George said, ‘What? This is the real track!'”
In George’s 1979 memoir, Martin remembered playing McCartney’s record to Harry Saltzman who produced the Bond films. “He sat me down and said, ‘Great. Like what you did, very nice record, like the score. Now tell me, who do you think we should get to sing it?’ That took me completely aback. After all, he was holding the Paul McCartney recording we had made. And Paul McCartney was – Paul McCartney. But he was clearly treating it as a demo disc. ‘I don’t follow. You’ve got Paul McCartney,’ I said. ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s good. But who are we going to get to sing it for the film?’ ‘I’m sorry. I still don’t follow,’ I said, feeling that maybe there was something I hadn’t been told. ‘You know – we’ve got to have a girl, haven’t we?'”
And now to the real story behind…
This was the story everyone was familiar with, however, it was heavily misunderstood. Authors Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair who released ‘The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1: 1969-73’, have recently discovered unpublished contracts in the archives of a university in the US which shows that the producers wanted McCartney all along.
Sinclair commented, “That became part of that collection of stories that George and Paul would tell over the years, and no one ever corrected it.”
Alongside it was the contracts that revealed McCartney negotiated a fee of $15000 for the creation of ‘Live And Let Die’, alongside his then-wife and Wings. He was also given publishing rights, including 50% of the song’s net profits.
There, Ron Kass, former head of the Beatles’ label Apple Records, said, “Paul McCartney has agreed to write the title song entitled Live and Let Die. He and his musical group Wings will perform the title song under the opening titles.”
Kozinn said, “So we can pretty definitively say that they were not going to replace Paul. One of the versions was going to be with Wings, which would play over the opening titles of the film and the closing credits. There would be a live version of the song performed during the club scene by BJ Arnau, a soul singer. When we saw those documents we couldn’t help but think it was just a misunderstanding.”
“Martin wouldn’t have been familiar with the terms of that contract, but Paul certainly would have. One of the things we discovered is that, if it’s a good story, Paul will go with it. He didn’t have any reason to assume that anybody would see that contract.”