How Paul McCartney Reacted to the Backlash to ‘Live and Let Die’

Paul McCartney & Wing’s “Live and Let Die” is one of their most famous hits and one of the most ubiquitous songs from the James Bond franchise. However, Paul faced some backlash from Rolling Stone for performing the song. Here’s how Paul responded to the backlash in a Rolling Stone interview — and how audiences reacted to “Live and Let Die.” 

Paul McCartney | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What Paul McCartney thought when he read a negative article about ‘Live and Let Die’

The James Bond film Live and Let Die is notable for a few reasons. It’s the first 007 movie to star Roger Moore, the first 007 movie where Bond had a Black love interest (even if she’s not his main love interest in the movie), and it’s the only 007 movie to include a theme song from a former Beatle. According to Box Office Mojo, Live and Let Die earned over $35 million. Despite the film’s success, Paul’s decision to perform the theme song for Live and Let Die triggered backlash.

A trailer for Live and Let Die

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During an interview with Rolling Stone’s Paul Gambaccini, Gambaccini asked Paul if he gets deluged with offers to perform theme songs. “Not deluged,” Paul responded. “I get quite a few, you know. I just try and choose the ones I like the sound of. It’s not anything I plan out.”

Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Live and Let Die”

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Then Paul started discussing Wing’s song “Live and Let Die.” “I remember a thing in Rolling Stone—there’s a little bit of chat, I read the papers, you know—that said ‘McCartney’s going to do Live and Let Die, so it’s come to that, has it?’” he said. “I thought, you silly sods. Because we were talking to another paper and when I said I was going to do Live and Let Die, the 007 thing, the reporter said, ‘Hey, man, that’s real hip.’ So it just depends which way you look at it.”

How the American public reacted to Paul McCartney & Wing’s ‘Live and Let Die’

This raises an interesting question: How did audiences react to “Live and Let Die?” The track reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. This wasn’t even the only version of the track to chart. Guns N’ Roses recorded a cover of “Live and Let Die” for their classic album Use Your Illusion I. Their rendition reached No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100

Guns N’ Roses’ “Live and Let Die”

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Paul McCartney & Wing’s ‘Live and Let Die’ appeared in movies without James Bond

“Live and Live Die” was even used in a memorable scene of the crime drama American Hustle. In the scene, Jennifer Lawrence cleans her house angrily while the song plays. “Live and Let Die” was also featured in a funeral scene from Shrek the Third. Paul faced some backlash for performing a Bond theme, however, “Live and Let Die” became a popular and enduring song.

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