COVERED: L is for 'Live and Let Die'

COVERED: L is for 'Live and Let Die'

"Paul was insistent in his stance – if they used his song then Wings had to perform it."

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Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire March 9th, 2013.

Music and films go hand in hand. For years film soundtracks have been released as singles and helped propel well known and even little known artists, to dizzy heights. Few films have had the legacy of the James Bond series and you would be hard pressed to find an honour quite as respectable as being asked to record the official theme song to a James Bond film.

Beatles legend Paul McCartney had that honour in 1971 with his group Wings, when he was approached to record the theme song to 'Live and Let Die'. Little did he know at the time that twenty years on, the song he recorded would form such a legacy that it was covered by an altogether different type of band in Guns N’ Roses.

Tell me about it….

Paul McCartney was an easy choice for the 'Live and Let Die' soundtrack. So keen was Albert R Broccoli for Paul to lend his magic to the song, that he actually approached him to work on it before he had even completed writing the screenplay. Sitting with just the title, Paul had to read the original novel before he penned his theme song in just one afternoon.

Paul and Wings very nearly lost out on performing the song though, as Producer Harry Saltzman wanted Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston to perform it instead. Paul was insistent in his stance – if they used his song then Wings had to perform it.

Twenty years later Wings had done such a fine job on the song that Guns N’ Roses chose to perform their own version of it. Swapping McCartney's gentle vocals for the rusty charms of Axl Rose, Guns N’ Roses made 'Live and Let Die' the second single from their acclaimed 'Use Your Illusion I' album.

How did it fare?

Both bands found remarkable success with the song which is testament to McCartney’s songwriting. For Paul McCartney and Wings, 'Live and Let Die' became the most successful Bond theme to that point, charting at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number nine in the UK singles chart.

For Guns N’ Roses the song was just as successful. It charted at number 20 in the mainstream rock chart and the video for the song, which was made just before rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradin left the group, was nominated for ‘Best Hard Rock Performance’ at the 1993 Grammy Awards. It is worth noting that Paul McCartney and Wings’ version also received a prestigious award nomination – for an Academy Award but lost out to theme song 'The Way We Were'.

Who else covered it?

'Live and Let Die' has been covered by many artists since Paul McCartney and Wings first released it as a single in 1971. Some of the more successful cover versions were from The Pretenders, The Spice Girls, Fergie, Celine Dion and to the delight of Harry Saltzman – Shirley Bassey!

Give me a listen then……

Paul McCartney and Wings performing 'Live and Let Die' as it was meant to be performed:

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