One of the most popular post-Beatles hits for one of the Fab Four was Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” which was created for the theme music for the 1973 James Bond film of the same name. 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 the classic McCartney song.
The cover came at a time when Guns N’ Roses were paying homage to a number of their most influential rock icons. In a 1991 interview with rolling stonelead 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 UK Subs. These are songs that we love – it’s as basic as that.
Slash went on to explain, “The Misfits song was Axl [Rose]’, and ‘Heaven’s Door’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ were songs that Axl and I were thinking of doing. Most of the band’s covers appeared on the band’s 1993 cover album The spaghetti incident? which included covers of classic songs by The Stooges, T. Rex, Soundgarden and Johnny Thunders.
In 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 defense to do, because all the kids were like, ‘Great song, ‘Live and Let Die'”. Paul recalls. “They said, ‘My father did that!’ ‘No way, it’s Guns N’ Roses’”.
Although her children have to defend her honor on the playground, it seems McCartney generally saw the cover in a positive light, appreciating the tribute. “I was glad they did,” he said. “I thought that was a nice little nod. I’m glad to hear that our pyro is bigger and better.
Perhaps McCartney would have been more discouraged if the Guns N’ Roses cover had been more successful than its original version. Luckily for the ex-Beatle, despite being a big hit for the band at the time, Guns N’ Roses coverage peaked at just 33 on the US Billboard chart. The track appeared on the band’s 1991 album Use your illusion I which did very well on the album chart, reaching number 2 and remained on the chart for 108 weeks, mainly thanks to the carrier single “November Rain”.
Watch Guns N’ Roses’ live cover of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” below.
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