In 1973 the eighth James Bond movie was released from Eon Productions titled Live and Let Die. The film was monumental as it included the first on-screen appearance of Roger Moore as the titular hero. To go along with the changing landscape of the 007 series, Sir Paul McCartney was enlisted to write and perform its Bond song.
Paul was still in contact with the former members of The Beatles and decided to call his long-time pal George Martin for help to get on the movie.
George was a British music producer, composer and musician whose work spanned decades.
The star had extensive involvement in The Beatles’ first few albums, giving him the nickname The Fifth Beatle.
George composed the soundtrack for Live and Let Die, and later recalled how Paul phoned him to ask for a spot in the movie.
Speaking in 1982, George explained: “It all started with Paul ringing me up and saying: ‘Look, I’ve got a song for a film. Would you produce it and arrange it for me?’ I said: ‘Sure.'”
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George continued: “I spent some time with [Paul] at his house going through the thing, and from my point of view, we were making a record, so I didn’t spare any expense and booked a large orchestra.
“I said: ‘This is the way we’ll do it – we’ll do it with [Paul’s band] Wings, and work on the session with just the group, and then in the evening, I’ll bring in the orchestra, but we’ll still keep Wings there, and try to do it live all together, to try to get a live feeling to it.'”
The producer added: “And that was what we did!”
George and Paul hadn’t worked together on music for years, so their reunion was certainly something for the books.
The Live and Let Die song was a moderate success, reaching number 37 in the UK Singles Charts before peaking at number nine.
In the US it reached number two in the singles charts.
George later mused about the movie: “Live And Let Die was my Bond picture, [and] I enjoyed that very much. I happened to have a very good director, Guy Hamilton, who told me he didn’t know much about music, but he knew what he wanted.”
George added: “He was quite true to his word, too, he was very articulate and precise, described what he wanted to hear from the music, what the emotions should be, and we worked very well together. And it was a successful picture.”
The most successful version of Live and Let Die came 18 years later.
Rock band Guns N’ Roses covered the track in 1991 for their album Use Your Illusion I.
The track reached number five in the UK Singles Charts, a few spots higher than Paul’s version.
Guns N’ Roses’ version reached number one in Finland and New Zealand.
Gutiarist for the band, Slash, said of the track: “It’s one of those songs, like Heaven’s Door, that Axl and I have always loved.
“It’s always been a really heavy song, but we’d never discussed it, and didn’t know that we each liked it. We were talking one night about a cover song and that came up, and we were like: ‘Yeah! Let’s do it!’
“So I went to rehearsal with Izzy and Matt and Duff, just to see whether we could sound good playing it, and it sounded really heavy.”