The Bond songs that should of been but were replaced at the last minute!
In this new series, we take a look at the songs recorded for the James Bond films that were binned and replaced with something else. The how’s, the when’s and the why’s will all be answered. Some of the songs were featured elsewhere in their respective films, others were completely dumped. In this first part we look at the song that should of accompanied the title sequence to…
‘Thunderball’ was to of been the first Bond film with production scheduled during 1961, but legal complications arose with Ian Fleming’s collaborators and the whole S.P.E.C.T.R.E concept that it was deemed too expensive to pursue and so ‘Dr. No’ was chosen instead. By 1965 Bond had established himself and in particular with the colossal success of ‘Goldfinger’ around the world and especially in America. Now the size of the budget could reconsider ‘Thunderball’ and all the financial trappings that came with the film.
Filming took place between April and August 1965 chiefly in The Bahamas but with unit filming taking place in France and England. By mid-August principal photography had wrapped and ‘Thunderball’ went to the cutting room to be pieced together. That Autumn, John Barry (1933-2011) began the process of scoring the film and, working with lyricist Leslie Briccuse (“Goldfinger”), decided that it was impossible to write a song called “Thunderball”. Thankfully, James Bond had gained a huge following in Italy and had acquired the nickname ‘Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ in that country! Barry and Briccuse set about crafting a song using this title.
They invited Shirley Bassey back to record the song but after a few demo’s decided that her vocal was too strong for the more romantic tone of the song. Barry brings in singer Dionne Warwick to re-record the song and this time it works. So here is Maurice Binder’s ‘Thunderball’ main title sequence as it was planned, with Dionne Warwick singing “Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”:
But, at the eleventh hour, the producers got cold feet and felt the film should really have an accompanying title song. Briccuse was out of ideas and so John Barry brought in good friend Don Black and, after burning alot of midnight oil, eventually came up with the song “Thunderball”, although Black later confessed that it made no sense whatsoever with lines like “so he strikes, like Thunderball”! It was also requested that a current chart star should sing the song and so Tom Jones was chosen. In a now famous tale as told by Don Black, Jones fainted at the end of the song and was unable to do another take, and so the “Thunderball” you hear to this day is the first and only recording of the song. He now sings the final note in a different key so that he maintains his ‘balance’!
“Mr. Kiss Miss Bang Bang” was not entirely ditched. It can be heard in the background as Bond escapes his captures and ends up in the appropriately named Kiss Kiss Club, only to be tracked down by the blood that pours from his leg wound. Warwick’s song remained unreleased until 1992 when it was published on the “30th Anniversary Collection” double disc collectors edition.
And so here is the ‘Thunderball’ title sequence as it became and we now know it. Spare a thought for Sir Tom as he drops to the floor at the end, won’t you!: