‘Live And Let Die’: Paul McCartney was always intended to sing Bond theme, new documents reveal

Both McCartney himself and George Martin said in the past that the film’s producers wanted a female voice, which the documents appear to show as a misunderstanding

Paul McCartney was always the James Bond producers’ choice to sing ‘Live And Let Die’ in the closing credits of the 007 film, new documents show.

The song, performed by McCartney with Wings, is one of the Beatle’s most successful solo hits as well as the post-credits soundtrack to the 1973 film.

In the years following the track’s release, McCartney and George Martin have both told the story that the film’s producers wanted to replace McCartney with a female singer on the track, assuming that the version presented to them was just a demo.

“He sat me down and said, ‘Great. Like what you did, very nice record, like the score,” Martin wrote in his 1979 memoir All You Need Is Ears. “Now tell me, who do you think we should get to sing it?’ That took me completely aback. [via The Guardian].

“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?’”

After that version of events – also stated by McCartney himself – became de facto truth in history written about the song, authors Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair have discovered unpublished contracts in the archives of a university in the United States which appear to show that the producers wanted McCartney’s voice there all along.

Kozinn told The Guardian: “This has been a longstanding story in the music world – the producers of Live and Let Die wanted to replace McCartney with a female singer. Martin told the story many times. Paul’s picked it up many times.

“Actually, the internal communications revealed that it was always in the contract that there would be two versions of the song.”

Sinclair said that the new information “undermines the story and shows it in a very different light,” adding that the now seemingly untrue story “became part of that collection of stories that George and Paul would tell over the years, and nobody ever corrected it.”
One of the documents sees former Apple Records boss write to producer Saltzman, saying: “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.”

Of the significance of the development, 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 b yBJ 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.”

Elsewhere, this month a new official video was released for The Beatles‘ ‘Here, There and Everywhere’. The track is taken from the newly mixed and expanded special edition of the band’s classic 1966 album ‘Revolver‘ , which was reissued in November.

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