Harry Saltzman’s tin ear for music

A couple of years ago, a documentary was produced in the U.K. about the James Bond title songs. There was a lot of entertaining material, including interesting detail on rejected title songs (such as Alice Cooper’s version of a song for The Man With the Golden Gun).

But the most startling disclosures concerned how Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman nearly killed not one, not two, but three classic Bond title songs.

So, near the end of the documentary’s “countdown,” here’s how Harry didn’t want Paul McCartney to sing Live And Let Die. George Martin, who’d end up doing LALD’s score, had to inform the producer that either McCartney performed the song or else he’d have to look elsewhere. Also, Saltzman thought Diamonds Are Forever had overly suggestive lyrics. John Barry, in particular, doesn’t seem to have happy memories of Mr. Saltzman. Luckily Albert R. Broccoli came to the rescue. Take a look:


Then there was Goldfinger. Everybody thinks Goldfinger had a great song, right? Wrong. Saltzman thought it terrible. But it was recorded just three weeks before its premier (the film came out in the UK in September 1964), so there was nothing Saltzman could do anything about it — thankfully. Here’s a look: