One of the most popular post-Beatles hits for any of the Fab Four was Paul McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’ which was created for the theme music for the James Bond film of the same name in 1973. The song was a major hit reaching number two on the US Billboard chart and number nine on the UK singles chart. Some 18 years later in 1991, Californian hard rockers Guns N’ Roses released their famous cover of McCartney’s classic song.
The cover came at a time when Guns N’ Roses had been paying tribute to a number of their most influential rock icons. During an interview in 1991 with Rolling Stone, lead guitarist Slash noted: “There are six covers: ‘Live and Let Die,’ by Wings, ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,’ by [Bob] Dylan — that new version that went nowhere — ‘Don’t Care About You,’ by Fear, ‘Attitude,’ by the Misfits, ‘New Rose,’ by The Damned, and ‘Down on the Farm,’ by U.K. Subs. They’re songs that we like — it’s as basic as that.”
Slash continued, explaining: “The Misfits song was Axl [Rose]’s idea, and ‘Heaven’s Door’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ were songs Axl and I both thought about doing.” Most of the group’s covers appeared on the band’s 1993 covers album The Spaghetti Incident? which included covers of classic songs by The Stooges, T. Rex, Soundgarden and Johnny Thunders.
During a 2016 interview with The New York Times, McCartney was asked what he thought of the Guns N’ Roses cover of ‘Live and Let Die’. He explained: “It’s funny, because when their version came out, my kids were in school, and they had a lot of defending to do, because all the kids said, ‘Great song, ‘Live and Let Die’”. Paul recalled. “They said, ‘My dad did that!’ ‘No way, it’s Guns N’ Roses’”.
Despite his children having to defend his honour on the playgrounds, it seems that McCartney generally viewed the cover in a positive light appreciating the tribute. “I was happy they did it,” he said. “I thought it was a nice little nod. I’m glad to hear our pyro is bigger and better.”
Perhaps McCartney would have been more disheartened had the Guns N’ Roses cover been more successful than his original release. Thankfully for the ex-Beatle, despite being a big hit for the group at the time, the Guns N’ Roses cover peaked at just 33 on the US Billboard chart. The track appeared on the group’s 1991 album Use Your Illusion I which fared very well on the album chart reaching number 2 and remained on the chart for 108 weeks, mainly thanks to the buoying single ‘November Rain’.
Watch the Guns N’ Roses live cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’ below.