The truth behind Paul McCartney’s Bond theme has finally been revealed

Newly discovered documents show that Paul McCartney was always the James Bond producers’ first choice to sing ‘Live And Let Die’, despite urban legend saying otherwise.

It’s been one of the longest-running and most persistent stories in the history of both film and rock and roll history: when Paul McCartney presented his iconic theme for ‘Live And Let Die’ to the film’s producers they assumed it was a demo and requested a female vocalist replace the former Beatle on the track.

It’s one of those amazing stories that sounds so fantastical that it must be true; who in their right mind would ask for a Beatle to be taken off a track?

Paul McCartney Wings Bond Theme
Paul McCartney and Wings (Credit: GAB Archive/Getty)

Giving the story even more believability was the fact that it came from McCartney and the track’s producer George Martin themselves.

In George Martin’s 1979 memoir All You Need is Ears he recounts “He sat me down and said, ‘Great. Like what you did, very nice record, like the score, now tell me, who do you think we should get to sing it?’ That took me completely aback. After all, he was holding the Paul McCartney recording we had made. And Paul McCartney was – Paul McCartney”.

Over the years McCartney has shared this account of events as well.

Now, decades later, documents have been discovered that put the story’s veracity into question.

Authors Adrian Sinclair and Allan Kozinn have come across unpublished contracts in a United States university archive showing that Live And Let Die‘s producers appeared to want McCartney to sing the theme all along.

Speaking to The Guardian, Kozin said that “actually, the internal communications revealed that it was always in the contract that there would be two versions of the song.

Why or how, then, was Martin’s version of events incorrect? Here Kozin also provides the answer.

“There would be a live version of the song performed during the club scene by BJ 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.”

That clears Martin, but what of McCartney? Unlike Martin, he would have seen the contracts, so he must have known Martin’s fantastical story wasn’t entirely true.

One of the things we discovered is that, if it’s a good story, Paul will go with it.” Stated Kozin.

You know what, Paul? Fair enough.