“Live and Let Die” is the main theme song of the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by Paul McCartney’s band Wings. It was one of the group’s most successful singles, and the most successful Bond theme to that point, charting at No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart.
Commissioned specifically for the movie and credited to Paul and Linda McCartney, it reunited the former Beatle with the band’s producer, George Martin, who both produced the song and arranged the orchestral break. It has been covered by several bands, with the Guns N’ Roses version being the most popular cover. Both the McCartney and the Guns N’ Roses versions were nominated for Grammys. In 2012, McCartney was awarded the Million-Air Award from Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), for more than 4 million performances of the song in the US.
Even before Tom Mankiewicz had finished writing the screenplay to Live and Let Die, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli invited Paul McCartney to write the theme song. McCartney asked to be sent a copy of Ian Fleming’s novel. “I read it and thought it was pretty good. That afternoon I wrote the song and went in the next week and did it … It was a job of work for me in a way because writing a song around a title like that’s not the easiest thing going.”
Originally, producer Harry Saltzman was interested in having Shirley Bassey or Thelma Houston perform it instead of Wings. Martin said McCartney would allow the song to be used in the movie only if Wings was able to perform the song in the opening credits. Saltzman, who had previously rejected the chance to produce A Hard Day’s Night, decided not to make the same mistake twice and agreed. A second version of the song, performed by B. J. Arnau, also appears in the film. Arnau’s performance originally was meant for the group Fifth Dimension. The Arnau version of the song appears on the soundtrack album as a component in a medley that also contains two George Martin-composed instrumental pieces, “Fillet of Soul-New Orleans” and “Fillet of Soul – Harlem”. It was also released by RCA Records as a single in late June 1973.
Wings recorded “Live and Let Die” during the sessions for the Red Rose Speedway album, in October 1972. The song was taped at A.I.R. Studios, with Ray Cooper providing percussion instruments.
“Live and Let Die” was released as the second single from Use Your Illusion I album and the fourth out of all the Use Your Illusion singles. A music video was made in November 1991 featuring the band playing live on stage and showing old pictures. The video also was made shortly before Izzy Stradlin’s departure, and it is the last video where he appears. It charted at No. 20 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The song was nominated for “Best Hard Rock Performance” during the 1993 Grammy Awards.
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