Apparently, there were never any plans to have someone else sing the theme for Live and Let Die, contrary to Paul McCartney’s version of the story.
Researchers Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair dug up paperwork proving that James Bond producers specifically contracted with Wings to open the 1973 movie, while an alternative version was set for a club scene later.
“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,” Kozinn tells The Guardian. Producer George Martin also “told the story many times. Paul’s picked it up many times,” Kozinn added. “Actually, the internal communications revealed that it was always in the contract that there would be two versions of the song.”
In perhaps his most widespread retelling, McCartney once said that Bond film producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli initially listened to the completed track and “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?’ And George said, ‘What? This is the real track.’” In his 1979 memoir All You Need Is Ears, Martin said they added: “Now tell me, who do you think we should get to sing it? … You know – we’ve got to have a girl, haven’t we?’”
Contracts recovered by Kozinn and Sinclair show McCartney was paid $15,000 for “Live and Let Die,” and went on to earn another $50,000 through a share of the rights – a total of around $400,000 in current terms. In addition, a memo confirmed that McCartney and “his musical group Wings will perform the title song under the opening titles.”
“When we saw those documents we couldn’t help but think it was just a misunderstanding,” Kozinn said. “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.”
Listen to Paul McCartney Perform ‘Live and Let Die’
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